UST Final Regulations Now Effective


EPA’s final 2015 underground storage tank (UST) regulations effective on October 13th, 2015.

UST regulations, which were issued on July 15, 2015, strengthened the 1988 federal underground storage tank regulations by increasing emphasis on properly operating and maintaining UST equipment. The new UST regulations, developed four years after the EPA initially proposed revisions in 2011, are the first substantial revisions to UST regulations that were first promulgated in 1988, and are designed to make tank regulations universally applicable, establishing federal requirements similar to certain key provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (“Energy Policy Act”). The provisions of the Energy Policy Act apply to all states that receive federal money for their state programs, but do not apply to other states or Indian country. Now, these requirements apply throughout the country.

Below is a brief overview of the key components of the new UST regulations:

  • Operator Training Requirements – Owners and operators must now designate at least one individual for each of three “classes” of operators.3 Designated operators must be trained on minimum defined areas and may need to be retrained if the UST system is not in compliance. UST owners and operators must be in compliance with this rule no later than October 13, 2018.

  • Secondary Containment – EPA now requires: (1) all new and replaced tanks and piping be secondarily contained with interstitial monitoring systems; and (2) new dispenser systems must be equipped with under-dispenser containment. Also, owners and operators must replace the entire piping run when 50 percent or more of the piping is removed and other piping is installed. These requirements only apply to new and replaced systems – there are no retrofit requirements.

  • Operation and Maintenance UST Regulations – The regulations require periodic walkthrough inspections to prevent and quickly detect releases, as well as additional requirements for periodic spill, overfill, and secondary containment.

  • Deferrals – EPA has extended its regulatory authority to certain underground storage systems that were previously exempt from regulation.

  • Other Changes – The final rule contains a number of other miscellaneous changes to the 1988 UST regulations.

    • Overfill Prevention – EPA has eliminated flow restrictors, or ball float valves, in vent lines as an option for owners and operators to meet the overfill prevention equipment requirements for newly installed UST systems and when flow restrictors in vent lines are replaced.

    • Internal Lining – Under the new rules, owners and operators must permanently close tanks that use internal lining as the sole method of corrosion protection when both (a) the internal lining fails the periodic inspection required under the rule, and (b) the lining cannot be repaired according to a code of practice developed by a nationally recognized association or independent testing laboratory.

    • Notification Requirements – The final rule requires owners and operators to notify the implementing agency within 30 days of bringing an UST system into use or when there is a change in ownership, among other changes. Generally, the implementing agency will be the state agency enforcing the tank program, but for certain areas (such as Indian Country) it may be the U.S. E.P.A. The 1988 regulations required the state or local agency to be notified (regardless of whether that was the implementing agency).

    • Tank Compatibility with Alternative Fuels – EPA is requiring that owners and operators storing any regulated substance blended with greater than 10 percent ethanol or 20 percent biodiesel must demonstrate compatibility by relying upon certification of a nationally recognized testing laboratory (such as Underwriters Laboratories) or upon written certifications of the equipment manufacturer. EPA also allows owners to demonstrate compliance by a method determined by the implementing agency.

    • Leak/Overfill Detection Revisions – EPA is retaining vapor monitoring and groundwater monitoring as methods of acceptable release detection for tanks installed before the regulations go into effect provided the owners and operators maintain a site assessment that demonstrates the release detection method meets requirements.

It is important to remember that in the 38 states have their own UST programs that are “approved” by EPA, SIGMA members that own and operate USTs remain subject to the existing, applicable state UST requirements, which will be updated and reapproved by EPA over the next three years. In the remaining 12 states – Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin and Wyoming (along with Guam, Samoa, and the North Mariana Islands) – that do not have EPA-approved state UST programs, beginning October 13th, SIGMA members that own and operate USTs are subject to both the applicable state requirements and EPA’s updated UST regulations.

SIGMA has prepared a memorandum that provides an overview of the new regulations. It contains a condensed summary of the final rule (Part I), an overview of the legal background (Part II), an in-depth analysis of the regulations (Part III), and compliance assistance charts (Part IV).

Read the memorandum [Note: You must be logged in to access the document]

3565 Piedmont Road, NE Building 1 Suite 430 Atlanta, GA 30305 877-527-0383