Hospitals often require tanks to store fuel for boilers, emergency generators, motor pools, and the like, and often these tanks are located underground. Two Ohio agencies regulate such tanks, with a primary focus of preventing and mitigating leaking underground storage tanks (aka “LUST”). Addressing those regulations is an important part of any EH&S compliance management program. With a recently announced increase in enforcement activity, that importance has grown.
The Ohio Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulation (BUSTR), a part of the State Fire Marshall Division of the Ohio Department of Commerce, has an extensive regulatory program including registration of all existing and new tanks, permits, construction standards, testing and reporting requirements, and requirements for the removal and cleanup of obsolete or leaking tanks. Annual registration fees of $50 per tank are also required. A full discussion of BUSTR requirements can be found at www.com.state.oh.us/SFM/bust/.
In addition, the owner or operator of one or more underground storage tanks must annually certify financial assurance for potential liability and LUST cleanups with a certificate of coverage issued by the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Release Compensation Board (PUSTRCB), and a demonstration of a means to pay PUSTRCB coverage deductibles. PUSTRCB, the other Ohio agency with a hand in regulating underground tanks, has a very limited function: to collect fees for and administer the Petroleum Financial Assurance Fund, the fund which provides money to covered tank owners to address LUST clean up costs. Participation in the fund is required by law for tank owners or operators. Required fees are set annually based upon the balance and financial soundness of the fund, as determined by PUSTRCB. Late payment may be subject to a per-tank penalty of up to $1,000.00, so timely premium payment is important. Details of PUSTRCB’s program can be found at www.petroboard.com.
The many details of these two important regulatory programs are beyond the scope of this article. However, if your hospital has an underground tank, and this is the first you have heard of these requirements or, like one of our clients, in the course of a construction project you discover for the first time that there is an old underground storage tank down there, do not despair – both BUSTR and PUSTRCB provide for retroactive compliance. Be prepared to pay past due registration fees and fund premium fees, and to undertake necessary inspections and reporting to establish such retroactive compliance, even if your plan is to remove that old tank – such removal requires a permit from BUSTR, and a permit requires a valid, current registration and fund coverage prior to the “tank yank.”