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United States

Environmental Protection


Office of Underground

Storage Tanks


RCRA, Superfund & EPCRA

Call Center Training Module

Introduction to:

Underground Storage Tanks:

RCRA Subtitle I

(40 CFR Part 280)

Updated January 2002


January 2002



1. Introduction ................................................................................................................. 1

2. Regulatory Summary ................................................................................................... 2

2.1 Scope of the UST Program ................................................................................. 2

2.2 Notification Requirements .................................................................................. 4

2.3 Performance and Operating Standards ................................................................ 5

2.4 Release Detection ............................................................................................... 7

2.5 Special Requirements for Chemical USTs .......................................................... 9

2.6 Release Reporting, Response, and Corrective Action ........................................ 10

2.7 Out-of-Service USTs and UST Closure .............................................................. 11

2.8 Financial Responsibility ..................................................................................... 12

2.9 Lender Liability .................................................................................................. 17

3. Other Issues.................................................................................................................... 18

3.1 Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund ................................................... 18

3.2 State Programs ..................................................................................................... 18

3.3 UST Initiatives ..................................................................................................... 19


Underground Storage Tanks - 1

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPA’s regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.


Across the United States, there are approximately 700,000 federally regulated underground

storage tanks (USTs) that store petroleum or certain hazardous substances. USTs are found at a

variety of locations, including convenience stores, airports, service stations, small and large

manufacturing facilities, and hazardous waste management facilities. Some USTs installed

before 1988 were constructed of bare, unprotected steel. Because of their underground location,

these tanks pose unique problems in preventing their contents from leaking due to faulty

installation, corrosion, tank or pipe rupture, or spills. With over 50 percent of the U.S.

population relying on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water, Congress acted to

protect this resource in 1984 by adding Subtitle I to the Resource Conservation and Recovery

Act (RCRA). Pursuant to this congressional mandate, EPA established a regulatory program in

1988 that includes technical requirements to prevent, detect, and clean up releases from USTs.

In addition, EPA created financial responsibility requirements to guarantee that UST owners and

operators have enough money set aside to clean up releases and to compensate third parties.

This module is designed to familiarize you with the universe of regulated USTs, and the

technical and financial requirements that apply to them. After reading this module, you should

be able to:

Define UST and UST system

Identify which USTs are subject to regulation

Determine performance and operating requirements

Discuss such topics as historical deadlines for upgrading tanks and the closure and

corrective action requirements

Summarize the financial responsibility requirements for petroleum USTs.

2 – Underground Storage Tanks

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.


When developing RCRA Subtitle I, Congress's primary concern was to protect groundwater by

establishing standards that prevent releases and enable UST owners and operators to quickly

respond to releases that do occur. A complete visual inspection is impossible for any tank (and

associated piping) that is even partially underground. RCRA Subtitle I defines a UST as any

tank that is 10 percent or more beneath the surface of the ground. Because this includes the

volume of underground pipes connected to the tank, above ground tanks with extensive

underground piping may fall within the purview of the federal UST regulations, as well as tanks

that are partially or completely below ground.

Some types of underground storage tanks are not subject to the UST regulations. EPA regulates

only certain underground tanks that hold petroleum or hazardous chemicals. For example,

underground tanks holding nonhazardous substances, such as water, are not covered by these

regulations. Other underground tanks are not regulated under Subtitle I because they are already

covered under other federal programs (such as underground tanks holding hazardous wastes,

which are regulated under Subtitle C of RCRA), or because the tank does not contain enough of

a regulated substance to warrant regulation.

The UST regulations are found in 40 CFR Part 280. Since the UST program is not part of RCRA

Subtitle C, Part 280 contains its own applicability and definitions sections, in addition to

regulations establishing technical and administrative requirements. These requirements include

notification, design and installation standards, closure, and corrective action. Because many

USTs were installed prior to the development of the federal UST program, the regulations also

establish a schedule for upgrading older tanks to meet current design and operating standards.

Finally, Part 280 also contains regulations requiring owners and operators of petroleum USTs to

demonstrate that they have the financial resources to pay for the cost of cleaning up any releases

that occur.

States can apply for and obtain approval to implement the UST regulations in lieu of the federal

government. Approval of a state's UST program is independent of a state's authorization under

Part 271 to implement the Subtitle C hazardous waste program. Part 281 contains the regulations

governing the application and approval process for UST state programs.


When addressing any issue involving underground storage tanks, it is critical that you determine

if the tank meets the regulatory definition of UST, found in 280.12, as well as the applicability

criteria in 280.10. EPA defines an UST as any one or combination of tanks (including

connected underground pipes) that is used to contain an accumulation of "regulated substances"

and the volume of which (including the volume of underground pipes connected thereto) is 10

percent or more beneath the surface of the ground. A "regulated substance" means (1) any

substance defined under 101(14) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response,

Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), but not including any substance regulated as a

Underground Storage Tanks - 3

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

hazardous waste under RCRA Subtitle C, and (2) petroleum, including crude oil or any fraction

thereof that is a liquid at standard temperature and pressure.

As stated earlier, USTs, depending on their size, location, contents, and/or purpose, may be

either subject to Part 280 regulation, deferred to other regulatory programs, or excluded from

federal regulation altogether. Because Congress expressly excluded a number of units from the

definition of UST in RCRA 9001, 280.12 also excludes these units. These units include,

among others: farm and residential tanks with a volume of 1,100 gallons or less that store motor

fuel for noncommercial purposes; tanks storing heating oil for use on site; septic tanks; pipeline

facilities regulated under the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968 and the Hazardous Liquid

Pipeline Safety Act of 1979; and storage tanks situated upon or above the floor in a basement,

cellar, or other underground area. A complete list of tanks excluded or subject to reduced

standards can be found in Table 1.

Once you determine that a tank meets the definition of a UST, you must evaluate it against a

number of other regulatory exclusions found in the applicability section (280.10(b)). EPA

developed some of these exclusions to avoid subjecting certain types of tanks to dual regulation.

For example, tank systems regulated under RCRA Subtitle C and wastewater treatment tanks

regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA) are excluded to avoid duplicative regulation. Other

exclusions exempt tanks that pose little or no risk, allowing implementing agencies to

concentrate their resources on tanks that pose the greatest environmental threat. These include

tanks that contain small concentrations of regulated substances and tanks with a capacity of 110

gallons or less.

Finally, if a tank meets the definition of a UST and is not excluded under 280.10(b), you must

determine if it qualifies for one of the deferrals in 280.10(c) and (d). Most of these tanks are

deferred from regulation because their design or use poses unique regulatory challenges. A

deferral provides EPA with additional time to evaluate these tanks to determine if they warrant

full regulation under Part 280. Section 280.10(c) defers five types of UST systems from the Part

280 design and installation standards and notification, release detection, release reporting, and

closure requirements. These tanks are, however, subject to release response, corrective action

and financial responsibility. In addition, new tanks must meet the design standards of 280.11.

Furthermore, Section 280.10(d) defers USTs storing fuel solely used for emergency power

generators from the release detection requirements only these tanks are subject to all other

Part 280 requirements.

4 Underground Storage Tanks

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

Table 1


Type of Tank Citation

1,100-gallon or less Farm or Residential Tanks1 280.12

Heating Oil Tanks1 280.12

Septic Tanks1 280.12

Pipeline Facilities Regulated Under Other Federal or State Laws1 280.12

Surface Impoundments, Pits, Ponds, Lagoons1 280.12

Stormwater or Wastewater Collection Systems1 280.12

Flow-Through Process Tanks1 280.12

Liquid Traps Related to Oil/Gas Production1 280.12

Storage Tanks in an Underground Area1 280.12

Tanks Holding RCRA Subtitle C Hazardous Waste2 280.10(b)(1)

Tanks that are Part of a Wastewater Treatment Facility Regulated Under CWA2 280.10(b)(2)

Equipment Containing Regulated Substances for Operational Purposes2 280.10(b)(3)

USTs with capacities of 110 gallons or less2 280.10(b)(4)

USTs containing De Minimis Concentrations of Regulated Substances2 280.10(b)(5)

Emergency Spill or Overflow Containment UST System Expeditiously Emptied 2 280.10(b)(6)

Wastewater Treatment Tank Systems3 280.10(c)(1)

Tanks Containing Radioactive Material Regulated Under the Atomic Energy Act3 280.10(c)(2)

Tanks that are Part of an Emergency Generator System at Nuclear Power Generation

Facilities Regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission3 280.10(c)(3)

Airport Hydrant Fuel Distribution Systems3 280.10(c)(4)

Field-Constructed Tanks3 280.10(c)(5)

Tanks Storing Fuel for Use by Emergency Power Generators4 280.10(d)

1 These tanks are excluded from the definition of "UST."

2 These tanks are excluded from Part 280 regulation.

3 These tanks are deferred from Part 280, Subparts B, C, D, E, and G.

4 These tanks are deferred from only Subpart D.


Because of the vast number of underground storage tanks already in existence when Congress

enacted RCRA Subtitle I, EPA's first action in responding to this mandate was to establish a

notification system allowing EPA to track the universe of existing USTs. Owners and operators

of UST systems that were in the ground on or after May 8, 1986, were required to notify the

designated state or local agency of the tank's existence, unless the tank was taken out of

Underground Storage Tanks - 5

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

operation on or before January 1, 1974. The regulations also provide a mechanism that alerts

EPA when a new UST is brought into operation. Any owner or operator who brings a UST into

use after May 8, 1986, must notify the designated state or local agency of the existence of the

tank system within 30 days of bringing the tank into use (280.22). As an additional safeguard,

any person who sells a tank that is intended to be used as a UST must inform the purchaser of the

owner's notification requirement under 280.22. However, notification is a one-time

requirement; if the original tank owner or operator notified EPA, the subsequent owner need not

notify EPA again, and EPA does not require notification for ownership changes.


The UST program establishes performance and operating standards for new and existing tanks;

these standards require that owners and operators ensure proper installation, corrosion protection,

spill and overfill protection, and leak detection. The Part 280 UST regulations were published

on September 23, 1988, and became effective on December 22, 1988 (53 FR 37082). December

22, 1988, is used as a critical cut-off point for determining the applicability of certain elements of

the UST regulations. To accommodate the thousands of USTs in existence at the time the Part

280 regulations were established, EPA built a certain amount of flexibility into the UST program

to ensure that tanks already in use were covered by the new program, yet not immediately

subjected to possibly costly design standards.

Part 280 draws a distinction between "new" tank systems, which are immediately subject to strict

installation and design standards, and "existing" tank systems, which are provided a grace period

before they must be upgraded to meet the standards similar to those that apply to new tanks.

Tanks for which installation began after December 22, 1988, are considered to be new USTs, and

are subject to stringent performance standards at the time of installation. These standards

address preventative measures necessary to protect against structural failure, corrosion, leaks,

and spills and overfills during product transfer to the UST system (280.20). Tanks installed on

or before December 22, 1988, are considered existing tanks, and were provided a deadline by

which they had to meet the same (or similar) standards as new tanks or be replaced. UST owners

and operators were required to fully upgrade existing tank systems by December 22, 1998, or

remove them from service. In addition to these design standards, both new and existing tank

systems are subject to general operating requirements to ensure proper operation and

maintenance. Each of these requirements are discussed below, noting where standards differ for

new and existing tank systems.


Improper installation is a typical cause of UST failures, particularly piping failures. Proper

installation is crucial to ensure the structural integrity of both the tank and its piping. Many

mistakes can be made during installation, a process that includes deciding where to locate the

tank, excavation, tank system assembly, backfilling of the tank system, and surface grading. For

example, mishandling of the tank during installation can cause cracks in fiberglass-reinforced

plastic tanks, or damage the protective coating on steel tanks with cathodic protection, leading to

corrosion. These problems usually result from careless installation practices that do not follow

6 Underground Storage Tanks

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

recognized industry codes and procedures. Therefore, owners and operators of new tank systems

must certify on their UST notification form that the tank system was installed in accordance with

the manufacturer's instructions and in accordance with practices developed by a nationally

recognized association, such as the American Petroleum Institute (API) (280.20(d) and



Owners and operators of new and existing USTs must protect their tanks and piping from

corrosion. When EPA surveyed the regulated universe of USTs in 1988, it discovered that over

75 percent of existing USTs were made of unprotected steel. When unprotected steel is buried in

the ground, it can be eaten away by corrosion, a process that results when bare metal, soil, and

moisture conditions combine to produce an underground electric current that destroys steel,

returning it to its original iron ore state. This transformation causes holes to develop, and leaks

to begin, eventually leading to contamination of the surrounding soil and groundwater. Because

of this problem, EPA requires that new tanks be designed and constructed so that they are

protected from corrosion. This can be accomplished by constructing the tank of materials that do

not corrode, such as fiberglass and plastic, or outfitting a steel tank with a thick layer of

noncorrodible material. A third option is to construct the tank using steel that has a corrosionresistant

coating while also providing a means of reversing the corrosion-causing electrical

current (also called cathodic protection) (280.20(a)). Piping that routinely contains product and

is in contact with soils must meet similar corrosion protection standards (280.20(b)).

Owners and operators of existing, bare steel tanks had until December 22, 1998, to upgrade,

replace, or close their tanks. By the December 22, 1998, deadline, these existing tanks had to be

protected from corrosion either by meeting the performance standards for new tanks or by

following special upgrading procedures. These procedures, found in 280.21, include options

for installing cathodic protection and/or adding a thick, corrosion-resistant interior lining to the

tank. Existing metal piping must also have cathodic protection by this date.

Once installed, the regulations require that corrosion protection systems be properly operated and

maintained to ensure that no releases occur. In addition, UST systems with cathodic protection

must be periodically inspected and tested to ensure that the equipment is operating properly

(280.31). Similarly, owners and operators must periodically inspect lined tanks to ensure their

structural integrity and that the lining is performing in accordance with its original design

specifications. Finally, the owner or operator must keep records documenting compliance with

these operation, maintenance, and inspection requirements (280.34(b)(2)).

In addition to ensuring the structural integrity of the tank by preventing corrosion, owners and

operators of USTs must ensure that any substance stored in the UST does not react in such a way

that it threatens the integrity of the tank. For this reason, the tank and piping must be made of, or

lined with, a material that is compatible with the substance stored in the tank (280.32)).

Underground Storage Tanks - 7

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.


Even if an UST is properly designed and installed, and is equipped with corrosion protection,

spills can occur during product transfer (i.e., when the tank is being filled or when liquids are

being removed). These types of releases are usually due to human error, and as such, are largely

preventable or controllable. The spill and overfill protection regulations consist of both general

operating procedures and design standards. The general operating requirements consist of

common-sense procedures, such as ensuring that there is enough room in the tank to receive a

delivery of gasoline before the delivery is made, and watching the entire delivery to prevent

spilling or overfilling. In addition, spills and overfills can be eliminated or minimized by

installing special equipment. For example, catchment basins can contain small amounts of

product that are spilled when the delivery hose is uncoupled from the fill pipe. Overfill

protection devices either shut off delivery once the product has reached a certain level in the

tank, restricts flow into the tank when the tank is almost full, or sounds an alarm that notifies the

delivery driver that the tank is almost full.

All tank systems are subject to the general operating standards for spill and overfill control,

found in 280.30. New tanks must have catchment basins and overfill protection devices when

they are installed (280.20(c)), while existing tanks were required to meet these design standards

by December 22, 1998 (280.21(d)). The only exception to these requirements are for USTs that

never receive product transfers of more than 25 gallons at a time; they do not have to meet the

spill and overfill design standards.


Release detection is an essential component of the underground storage tank program. All new

and upgraded USTs must be monitored at least every 30 days for releases. "New" USTs (tanks

installed after December 22, 1988) must meet the leak detection provisions immediately upon

installation. "Existing" USTs (those installed before December 1988) were to upgrade and meet

release detection standards by December 22, 1993. Note that this cut-off date is different from

the overarching 1998 deadline.

There are three basic types of release detection: external, internal, and interstitial. External

release detection involves monitoring nearby soil or groundwater for the presence of vapors or

liquids. Internal release detection entails measuring a tanks product level directly. For

example, operators can measure product level manually or with electronic gauging systems.

Interstitial monitoring is a system that involves monitoring the space between the primary and

secondary containment for the presence of regulated substances.

The regulations outline eight types of release detection methods, however, some of these

methods may only be used on a temporary basis, while others may not be suitable for all USTs or

all types of regulated substances. The methods are briefly described below:

Inventory Control: The owner or operator records the volume of regulated substance in a tank on

each operating day, plus any additions or withdrawals associated with the tank.

8 Underground Storage Tanks

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

Manual Tank Gauging: This method involves leaving the UST undisturbed for 36 hours each

week, during which time the tanks volume is measured, twice at the beginning and twice at the

test periods end. This method has certain size restrictions, because accuracy of the results

decreases as tank size increases.

Tank Tightness Test: Tightness tests check for the presence of a leak, and can include a wide

variety of methods and technologies. The method must be capable of finding a 0.1 gallon/hour

leak from the tank, while accounting for site-specific factors. Typically, a testing company

performs the tightness test, and the tank is taken out of service during the procedure.

Automatic Tank Gauging (ATG): A probe is permanently installed in the tank to measure

product level and temperature. The monitoring device is connected to a console that displays

product information. The system must detect a 0.2 gallon/hour leak rate. Often, systems are

equipped with alarms to alert staff of sudden changes in substance levels.

Vapor Monitoring: This method requires installation of prudently placed monitoring wells.

Sensors in the wells detect the presence of fumes due to a release from a UST. Vapor

monitoring is not appropriate at all sites or for all types of regulated substances. A site

assessment must be conducted prior to installation to analyze site conditions, such as soil type

and aquifer depth.

Groundwater Monitoring: Owners or operators strategically place monitoring wells around USTs

to check for regulated substances floating on the water table. Similar to vapor monitoring, this

method can only be used for certain materials (e.g., substances with a specific gravity less than

one) and at certain locations (e.g., underlying aquifers must be within 20 feet of the ground


Interstitial Monitoring: This method is used when a tank has secondary containment, such as a

vault, liner, or outer wall. The space between the primary and secondary containment

(interstitial space) captures leaked product from the primary tank. Owners or operators must

check the interstitial space at least once every 30 days. Monitoring devices can range from

simple dipsticks to continuous detection systems.

Other Methods: Owners and operators can use other technology if it meets a performance

standard of 0.2 gallons/hour with a 95 percent detection probability and a false alarm probability

of five percent. An example of this is statistical inventory reconciliation, a method that employs

sophisticated software to conduct statistical analysis of inventory, delivery, and dispensing data.

Moreover, implementing agencies can approve other methods if the owner or operator can show

that it works as well as any of the specifically outlined methods.

Although the UST regulations outline the above release detection methods, owners or operators

must choose one of a number of monthly monitoring methods in 280.43(d) through (h) to

ensure timely detection of leaks. These methods are automatic tank gauging, vapor monitoring,

groundwater monitoring, interstitial monitoring, and other methods that meet the performance

standards or are specifically approved. Essentially, there are two exceptions to this requirement.

Underground Storage Tanks - 9

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

First, smaller USTs can use the manual tank gauging method. Second, owners and operators

may use a combination method of (less expensive) release detection for a prescribed period of

time. The "combination method" involves inventory control with periodic tank tightness testing.

In general, tanks installed today can use this option for 10 years. In certain instances, tanks

installed before the 1998 deadline may still be using this method as well. For a detailed

discussion of these scenarios, see EPAs guidance on the "combination method" (e.g., Memo,

Hopkins to Regions; July 25, 1997).

Underground piping that routinely contains regulated substances is also subject to release

detection standards. In fact, the 1988 Federal Register preamble stated that piping releases occur

twice as often as tank releases. The piping release detection requirements differ slightly from

those for tanks as they are tailored to the specific piping functions. For example, suction piping

has less stringent standards than pressurized piping, because proper suction piping design

ensures that suction piping is less likely to leak than pressurized systems.

To ensure release detection performance, the release detection recordkeeping requirements,

found in 280.45, include maintaining results of any sampling, testing, or monitoring, as well as

maintaining documentation of all calibration, maintenance, and repair of release detection



In addition to meeting the same requirements for installation, corrosion protection, and spill and

overfill protection as petroleum USTs, new and existing USTs containing CERCLA hazardous

substances, also known as chemical USTs, must meet special leak detection requirements.


New chemical USTs and their associated underground piping must meet more stringent

requirements. EPA requires secondary containment with interstitial monitoring, unless an

implementing agency approves a site-specific variance. By enclosing a tank with a second wall,

leaks can be contained and detected quickly before harming the environment. Acceptable

methods of secondary containment include: (1) placing one tank inside of another tank or one

pipe inside another pipe, (2) placing the UST system inside a concrete vault, or (3) lining the

excavation zone around the UST system with a liner that cannot be penetrated by the chemical.

Interstitial monitoring refers to a leak detection device that can detect the presence of a leak in

the confined space between the inner and outer barrier of the secondary containment system.


The secondary containment and interstitial monitoring requirements that apply to new chemical

USTs were not applicable to existing chemical USTs until December 22, 1998. Before the

deadline, owners and operators of existing chemical USTs were permitted to use any leak

detection method found in 280.43, if the method chosen would detect the release of chemicals

stored in the UST. By December 22, 1998, unless granted a variance by the regulating agency,

10 Underground Storage Tanks

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

all existing chemical USTs must have been closed or brought into compliance with the leak

detection requirements for new chemical USTs (280.42). In addition, owners and operators of

existing chemical USTs were not required to install corrosion protection and spill and overfill

equipment until December 22, 1998.


Part 280 also includes regulations that address release reporting, response, and corrective action

requirements for petroleum and hazardous substance USTs. The Part 280, Subpart E, release

reporting and Subpart F release response and corrective action regulations include procedures for

investigating and confirming suspected releases, reporting releases to the implementing agency,

and steps for cleaning up releases to the environment. All UST owners and operators must be

attentive to a variety of warning signals that indicate a UST may be leaking. These include

evaluation of results of leak detection monitoring and testing, observation of any unusual

operating conditions at the pump (such as erratic or overly slow product flow), and evidence of

product leakage into the environment (e.g., the presence of free product in nearby surface water

or soil). Upon observing such a warning signal, the owner or operator must immediately report

the suspected leak to the implementing agency. The owner or operator must then determine if

the suspected leak is an actual leak by conducting tightness testing of the entire UST system.

The owner or operator must also measure for the presence of contaminants in soil or

groundwater and determine the source of the release if they observed any damage to the


If the results of tank tightness testing and/or the site check indicate that no leak has occurred,

then no further investigation is required. If, however, the results of these investigations indicate

a release has occurred, the owner or operator must respond by controlling and cleaning up the

release, and repairing or replacing any damaged equipment.

Response to a confirmed release is laid out in Part 280, Subpart F, and consists of a short-term

and a long-term stage. The initial stage of the response consists of short-term actions to stop and

contain the leak or spill, and steps to ensure that the leak or spill poses no immediate hazard to

human health and safety by removing explosive vapors and fire hazards. The owner or operator

must report the confirmed release to the implementing agency within 24 hours or another

reasonable time specified by the implementing agency. The owner or operator must also remove

as much product from the UST system as necessary to prevent any further release, begin to

recover any free (released) product, and provide a report to the implementing agency. The report

should include a description of the initial abatement actions taken, an assessment of the extent of

contamination, and a plan on how they will clean up the release.

Based on this initial site characterization, the implementing agency will decide whether further

action is warranted. Some leaks and spills will require additional, long-term attention to correct

the problem. In these cases, the implementing agency may request a corrective action plan from

the owner or operator that describes how they will respond to and clean up any contaminated

soils and groundwater. The implementing agency then evaluates the plan to determine if it will

adequately protect human health and the environment, taking into account such factors as the

Underground Storage Tanks - 11

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

type of substance released, hydrogeology at the site, and potential impacts on drinking water.

Once the corrective action plan is approved, the owner or operator must implement the plan and

report the results of the cleanup to the implementing agency. The implementing agency is then

required to provide notice to the public about the corrective action plan.

UST owners and operators must also respond immediately to all spills and overfills by

containing and cleaning up the released product. If more than 25 gallons of petroleum are

released, or if the petroleum release causes an oily sheen on nearby surface water, the owner or

operator must immediately notify the implementing agency and begin corrective action in

accordance with Part 280, Subpart F. Likewise, if a spill or overfill of a hazardous substance

results in the release of a CERCLA reportable quantity, the owner or operator must report the

release and commence corrective action. Any release below these quantities that cannot be

cleaned up within 24 hours must also be reported to the implementing agency.

EPA encourages states to incorporate risk-based decision-making when implementing their

corrective action programs. Risk-based decision-making (RBDM) is a process that uses risk and

exposure assessment methodology to help implementing agencies establish enforcement

priorities. Because of the vast number of leaking USTs and the limited financial and human

resources available to implement corrective action at these sites, risk-based decision-making is

an important element in expediting assessments and cleanups at contaminated sites. It is also

used to tailor the response to the level of risk posed by a particular site. For example,

implementing agencies may use risk-based decision-making to categorize or classify sites, to aid

in establishing cleanup goals, and to decide on levels of oversight of UST owners and operators.


In certain cases leaking tanks and piping can be repaired and put back in operation. If an owner

or operator chooses to repair rather than replace a damaged pipe or tank, EPA requires the

repairs to follow standard industry codes (such as codes established by API) for correct repair

practices. Within 30 days of completion of the repair, the owner or operator must demonstrate

that the tank or piping has been successfully repaired. This can be accomplished using a variety

of methods, including internal inspection for tanks, and tightness testing for tanks and piping.

Note that damaged metal piping cannot be repaired and must be replaced. Cathodically

protected UST systems that are repaired must be tested within six months to ensure that the

cathodic protection is working properly. The owner or operator must keep records of each repair

as long as the UST is in service (280.33).


Another valid compliance option is the temporary or permanent closure of USTs. If the owner or

operator plans to bring a tank system back into service at a later date, they may close the tank

temporarily provided they continue to operate and maintain the corrosion protection system, and

maintain the leak detection system if any product remains in the tank. The tank also continues to

be subject to the release response and corrective action requirements discussed above. If the

owner or operator temporarily closes the UST for longer than three months, they must also leave

12 Underground Storage Tanks

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

the vent lines open and functioning, and cap and secure all other lines attached to the tank.

Temporary closure as a deadline compliance option was only available through December 22,

1999, unless the implementing agency granted an extension.

More stringent regulations apply if an UST system is temporarily closed for longer than 12

months. Tanks cannot be temporarily closed for this long unless they meet the requirements for

new or upgraded tanks, except for the spill and overfill requirements. Similarly, a tank that was

temporarily closed prior to the December 22, 1998 deadline, and remained closed after

December 22, 1998, must be upgraded or replaced before it can be legally operated. If the tank

does not meet these requirements, or if the owner and operator decide to discontinue using the

tank altogether, the tank must be permanently closed, unless an extension is granted by the

implementing agency.

Permanent closure involves a number of steps designed to ensure the tank will pose no threats to

human health or the environment after it is closed. These steps include: notifying the

implementing agency of the intent to close so that it can oversee the closure process; assessing

the tank and surrounding area to determine if any releases have occurred; initiating corrective

action to clean up any such releases; removing all liquids and accumulated sludges from the

tank; and either removing the tank from the ground or filling it with an inert material such as

concrete or sand.

In some cases, an owner or operator may decide to use a formerly regulated UST system to store

a nonregulated substance. This is considered a change-in-service. Before making this change,

the owner or operator must notify the implementing agency, empty and clean the tank, conduct a

site assessment to determine if a release has occurred, and initiate corrective action if

appropriate. For both tank closures and changes-in-service, the owner or operator must maintain

results of the site assessment for at least three years, or mail the results to the implementing



Environmental cleanups can be both costly and time consuming. In 1986, Congress directed

EPA to develop regulations requiring petroleum UST owners and operators to demonstrate that

they have the financial resources available to pay for the cleanup of any releases from their USTs

and to compensate third parties for bodily injury and property damage caused by their leaking

USTs. In essence, the financial responsibility regulations require UST owners and operators to

certify that they have sufficient financial resources to pay for corrective action costs and lawsuits

from injured third parties. Part 280, Subpart H, lays out the minimum financial coverage

required and provides a number of different mechanisms by which an UST owner or operator

can demonstrate compliance with these requirements.


Currently, the financial responsibility regulations apply only to owners and operators of

regulated petroleum USTs. Either the owner or the operator of the UST (if they are different

Underground Storage Tanks - 13

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

individuals or firms) must demonstrate compliance with the financial responsibility

requirements. It is the responsibility of the owner and operator to decide who will meet the

requirements, for both parties can be held liable for costs incurred as a result of a release from

the UST (280.90(e)).

Federal and state governments and their agencies that own USTs are not required to demonstrate

financial responsibility, since EPA considers them "permanent and stable institutions that have

the requisite financial strength to cover the costs of taking corrective action and compensating

third parties" (52 FR 12796; April 17, 1987). Local governments and Indian tribes, however,

must, comply with the financial responsibility requirements. On the other hand, tribally owned

USTs that are in full compliance and located on Indian lands were not required to demonstrate

financial responsibility until December 22, 1998.


There are two categories of financial responsibility coverage: "per occurrence" and "annual

aggregate." Per occurrence means the amount of money that must be available to pay the costs

from one leak. Annual aggregate is the total amount of financial responsibility coverage

required to cover all leaks that occur in one year. For example, an owner or operator may be

required to have per occurrence coverage of $1 million and annual aggregate coverage of $2

million. An UST owner or operator with this amount of coverage will have sufficient funds

available to spend up to $1 million twice a year to respond to any leaks. Alternatively, the owner

or operator would be able to spend $100,000 per leak 20 times in the year, or any other

combination within the prescribed annual aggregate limits.

The minimum amount of coverage required depends on the type of business operated (petroleum

marketers v. nonmarketers), the average amount of petroleum handled at the facility per month,

and the number of tanks at the facility. A petroleum marketer is a facility at which petroleum is

produced, refined, or sold (such as service stations and truck stops). All petroleum marketers

must have per occurrence coverage of $1 million. Nonmarketing facilities (examples include car

dealerships and farms) must have per occurrence coverage of either $500,000 or $1 million,

depending on the amount of petroleum handled by the facility per month, based on annual

throughput. The amount of petroleum handled per month is calculated by counting the total

amount of product removed or dispensed from USTs at a facility over the course of the previous

calendar year and dividing by 12. For example, a facility with an annual throughput of 110,000

gallons handles 9,167 gallons per month. Nonmarketing facilities that handle 10,000 gallons or

less per month must have per occurrence coverage of $500,000. Nonmarketing facilities that

handle more than 10,000 gallons per month must have per occurrence coverage of $1 million.

The required amount of annual aggregate coverage depends on the number of tanks that are

covered by a single financial assurance mechanism or combination of mechanisms. Mechanisms

that cover more than 100 tanks must provide annual aggregate coverage of at least $2 million,

while mechanisms that cover 100 tanks or less must provide at least $1 million in annual

aggregate coverage. For example, if an insurance policy covers more than 100 tanks, the owner

or operator must have annual aggregate coverage of at least $2 million for this group of tanks. If

14 Underground Storage Tanks

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

the policy covers 100 or fewer tanks, the owner or operator must have annual aggregate coverage

of at least $1 million.


There are a variety of methods petroleum UST owners and operators can use to demonstrate

compliance with the financial responsibility requirements. These can be used singly or in

combination, as long as the total amount of coverage equals or exceeds the minimum required.

Financial Test of Self-Insurance

Many large corporations, based on their financial strength, may be able to demonstrate that they

have the assets or funds available to pay for costs incurred by releases from their USTs. These

firms may satisfy the financial responsibility requirements by passing the financial test of selfinsurance.

The test's conditions include a demonstration that the firm has a tangible net worth 10

times the required annual aggregate coverage. For example, a petroleum marketer with 450

tanks must have annual aggregate coverage of $2 million, and so must have a tangible net worth

of at least $20 million in order to qualify for the financial test (280.95).

Corporate Guarantee

The corporate guarantee allows a firm that is related to or has a substantial business relationship

with the owner or operator of the UST to "guarantee" coverage for any costs incurred by releases

from the UST for which the owner or operator is unable to pay (280.96). For example, a

company that has a controlling interest in the owner or operator (i.e., a parent firm) can

guarantee coverage for the daughter company. In order to qualify as a guarantor, the firm must

demonstrate that it meets the financial test criteria of 280.95. An owner or operator that uses

the corporate guarantee to meet the financial responsibility requirements must supplement it with

a standby trust fund (see below).

Insurance Coverage

An owner or operator may demonstrate financial assurance by obtaining coverage through a

private insurer, a process similar to obtaining car or health insurance, or by joining a risk

retention group. A risk retention group (RRG) is an insurance company formed by businesses or

individuals with similar risks to provide insurance coverage for those risks. To join an RRG, an

owner or operator may be asked to make a one-time payment, called a capital contribution, and

pay annual premiums thereafter (280.97).

Surety Bond

A surety bond is a guarantee from a surety company that it will meet the obligations of the owner

or operator in the event of failure to perform the necessary cleanup activities or failure to pay

someone else to perform them. Unlike an insurance policy, however, the use of a surety bond

does not transfer the ultimate obligation to pay for the cleanup from the owner or operator to the

surety company. Instead, the owners or operators using a surety bond must repay any amounts

Underground Storage Tanks - 15

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

advanced under the surety. Any owner or operator that uses a surety bond to meet the financial

responsibility requirements must also establish a supplemental standby trust fund to ensure that

the funds will be accessible and available (280.98).

Letter of Credit

A letter of credit is a contract between three parties: the issuer (usually a bank), the owner or

operator, and the implementing agency. By issuing a letter of credit, the issuer promises to pay a

certain amount, as directed by the implementing agency, in the event that the owner or operator

fails to meet an obligation to pay for a cleanup or compensate third parties for damages. Owners

and operators must establish a standby trust fund in conjunction with a letter of credit (280.99).

State-Required Mechanism

Some states that have not received approval for the federal UST program (see Section 2.10 of

this module) have their own UST regulatory programs, including financial assurance

requirements. Recognizing the potential for UST owners and operators in these states to be

subject to both federal and state financial responsibility regulations, EPA included a provision in

280.100 that allows UST owners and operators to use a state mechanism in lieu of one of the

Part 280, Subpart H, mechanisms. In order to be eligible for use on the federal level, these staterequired

mechanisms must provide a level of financial assurance equal to or greater than that

provided by one of the federal mechanisms, and the Regional Administrator must approve their


State Financial Assurance Fund

Many states have established financial assurance funds that can be used by owners and operators

of petroleum USTs located in their state (280.101). In fact, state financial assurance funds are

the primary method used by owners and operators to comply with the financial responsibility

provisions. Owners and operators can access these funds to help pay for the cleanup costs

resulting from a release. Owners or operators may be required to pay an annual fee per tank in

order to qualify for coverage by the state fund. Also, some state funds pay only for a portion of

cleanup costs, require the payment of a deductible amount, have eligibility requirements such as

proof of compliance with leak detection and recordkeeping requirements, and do not cover thirdparty

liability costs.

Trust Fund

Under a trust fund, monies for corrective action and third-party liability costs are held and

administered by an impartial third party. In order to demonstrate compliance with the financial

responsibility requirements using only this mechanism, the owner or operator must place the

entire annual aggregate amount required into the fund. By placing the money in an independent

fund, the monies will be kept separate from the owner or operator's other assets, and so will

always be available in the event a release occurs and a claim is made (280.102).

16 Underground Storage Tanks

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.


The UST regulations contain specific provisions describing how the financial responsibility

mechanisms are implemented. For example, the regulations address the use of standby trust

funds in conjunction with the other mechanisms, the availability of alternative mechanisms to

local governments, and the combination of mechanisms when demonstrating financial


Standby Trust Fund

A standby trust fund cannot be used as a financial responsibility mechanism; rather, it is a

depository instrument that an owner or operator must put in place when using a letter of credit, a

surety bond, or a corporate guarantee. In the event that an owner or operator cannot pay for

corrective action or liability claims, the implementing agency will direct that the UST financial

responsibility money that has been set aside in a letter of credit, surety bond, or corporate

guarantee be deposited into a standby trust fund. These funds are then held and administered by

an impartial third party, such as a bank or other financial institution, ensuring that funds provided

by the issuer of the letter of credit, surety bond, or corporate guarantee will be immediately

available for use in an UST cleanup or third-party compensation. This is necessary because

funds paid directly to EPA are deposited into the U.S. Treasury and require congressional action

to make them available for corrective action and liability costs. For example, if a release occurs

at a facility where the owner has a letter of credit, and that owner or operator does not have the

funding to pay for necessary cleanup, the issuer of the letter of credit will transfer funds into the

standby trust fund rather than directly to the agency overseeing the cleanup. Consequently,

monies necessary for the UST cleanup will be dispersed directly from the standby trust fund by

an impartial third party, such as the bank administering the standby trust fund.

Local Governments

In the past, local government entities that own or operate USTs, such as municipalities,

townships, and school districts, have had difficulty demonstrating compliance with the Part 280,

Subpart H, financial responsibility requirements, since many of the financial assurance

mechanisms were developed to meet the needs of the private sector. In response, EPA

promulgated four additional options that local governments may choose from when

demonstrating financial responsibility (58 FR 9026; February 18, 1993). They include a bond

rating test (280.104), a financial test (280.105), a guarantee (280.106), and a dedicated fund

(280.107). These mechanisms are similar in intent to the corporate guarantee (280.96) and the

financial test of self-insurance (280.95), but are tailored to meet the special needs of local

governments rather than private corporations. In essence, they allow financially capable entities

the opportunity to self-insure, rather than obtaining insurance coverage from a private carrier.

Combinations of Mechanisms

Owners or operators can combine mechanisms to demonstrate UST financial responsibility. It is

important to note, however, that if an owner or operator uses different mechanisms to

demonstrate financial responsibility for different groups of tanks, then they must meet the annual

Underground Storage Tanks - 17

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

aggregate coverage requirement for each group. For example, an owner of 300 tanks that uses an

insurance policy for 140 tanks located in Massachusetts and a state fund for 160 tanks in Florida

must have $2 million annual aggregate coverage for each of the two mechanisms, for a sum of $4

million. Conversely, if the same owner or operator were to use a single mechanism to cover all

300 tanks, they would need only $2 million in annual aggregate coverage.


Many UST owners and operators must secure loans from financial and other institutions to

comply with environmental regulations, such as UST upgrading and maintenance requirements.

These owners and operators often use the property on which the UST is located as collateral in

order to secure the loan. Financial institutions historically have been reluctant to extend loans to

UST owners and operators for fear of later incurring UST cleanup liability. For example, if a

bank held property as collateral for a service station that later became bankrupt, the lender would

take possession of the property, becoming the "owner" of the property and the tanks on it.

Financial institutions feared that they would then be subject to the Part 280 regulations,

specifically corrective action and third-party liability. Until recently, this potential for lending

institutions to be held liable for releases from USTs, known as "lender liability," greatly

hampered the ability of UST owners and operators to secure the capital necessary to make tank

improvements, upgrade, or comply with other requirements. The Part 280, Subpart I, lender

liability regulations provide lenders with an exemption from all federal UST regulatory

requirements provided that the lender, or secured creditor, does not participate in the

management of the UST system. This means that the lender is exempt from corrective action

requirements and liability for cleanup costs of contaminated property, both prior to and after

foreclosure, as long as the lender complies with the following regulatory provisions: the lender

does not engage in petroleum production, refining, or marketing; the lender does not manage or

operate the UST; and the lender does not store petroleum in the UST after foreclosure.

18 Underground Storage Tanks

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.


Although the UST regulations represent the foundation of the UST program, other related topics

are important. Three such issues are discussed below, the Leaking Underground Storage Tank

Trust Fund, State Programs, and the UST Initiatives.


Congress created the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Trust Fund in 1986 to provide

state agencies with additional funds to oversee UST cleanups, and to provide money to clean up

abandoned leaking USTs. The LUST Trust Fund may be used if the financial resources of an

owner or operator are not sufficient to pay for corrective action costs, if the owner or operator is

unwilling or incapable of carrying out corrective action properly, or if the owner or operator

cannot be identified. Financed by an excise tax on motor fuels, most of the collected money is

dispersed to states, where state officials use the funds for administration, oversight, and cleanup

work. Congress has restored this taxing authority effective September 30, 1997, until April 1,

2005, under the Tax Payers Relief Act of 1997.


States play an important role in the administration of the UST program. Because of the size and

diversity of the UST regulated community, states and local governments are in the best position

to oversee USTs. Because Congress intended for states to take over the day-to-day

administration of the UST program from the federal government, RCRA Subtitle I allows EPA

to approve state UST programs to operate in lieu of the federal UST program if they are at least

as stringent as the federal program and provide adequate enforcement. The regulations

establishing the application and approval processes are found at 40 CFR Part 281.

In order to be approved, a state program must meet three requirements. First, the state program

must set standards for eight performance criteria that are no less stringent than federal standards.

These include the technical standards for UST system design, release detection, and upgrading,

as well as release reporting and corrective action. Second, the program must contain provisions

that ensure adequate enforcement of the UST regulations. This means that the state must have

adequate legal authority to implement and enforce the regulations, including the authority to

inspect records and sites, require monitoring and testing, and assess penalties. In some cases

states will have to enact additional laws in order to have adequate authority. The program must

also include opportunities for public participation in the state enforcement process. Finally, the

state program must regulate at least the same universe of USTs as is covered by the federal

program, although states may implement programs that are broader in scope than the federal

program. For example, a state may choose to regulate all heating oil tanks, even though the

federal UST program excludes tanks used for storing heating oil for consumptive use on the

premises where stored. In such cases, EPA does not review or approve the portion of the

program that is broader in scope than the federal program. EPA can, however, approve

Underground Storage Tanks - 19

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

requirements that are more stringent than the federal program. For example, a state may be

authorized by EPA to implement release detection requirements that are more stringent than

those contained in Part 280.

Because state programs operate in lieu of the federal program, owners and operators in states that

have an approved UST program do not have to deal with two sets of statutes and regulations that

may be conflicting. Once their programs are approved, states have the lead role in UST program

enforcement. On the other hand, states without formal EPA approval can have agreements with

the Agency that gives the state a lead role in implementing certain aspects of the UST program.

Currently, 28 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have approved UST programs.

For states without approved programs, EPA works in conjunction with state officials to enforce

the federal UST regulations. These states may have Memoranda of Agreement with their EPA

Regional office, which allow them to implement specific parts of the UST regulations on behalf

of EPA. The following table lists the states and U.S. territories that have final approval for their

UST programs.

Table 2



States With Final Approval for

UST Programs

States Without Final Approval for

UST Programs


II Puerto Rico NJ, NY, Virgin Islands








American Samoa, AZ, CA, Guam,

HI, Northern

Mariana Islands



As the 1998 deadline has passed, the Office of Underground Storage Tanks (OUST) is focusing

its efforts on improving regulatory compliance and speeding up cleanup progress. Pursuant to

these goals, OUST introduced four priority initiatives that will serve as a framework for future

UST program activities:

USTfields for Abandoned Tanks

Improving Compliance

Faster Cleanups

20 Underground Storage Tanks

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

Evaluating UST System Performance.


USTfields are abandoned or underutilized industrial and commercial properties where

redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination from petroleum

from federally-regulated USTs. Sites contaminated by a substance other than petroleum, and

sites contaminated by petroleum as a result of releases from USTs not covered under the federal

program, are not USTfields. For example, because tanks storing heating oil for consumptive use

are not included in the definition of underground storage tank in 40 CFR 280.12, properties

contaminated by leaking underground heating oil tanks are not USTfields.

The USTfields for Abandoned Tanks initiative has four main goals:

Clean up unused properties

Demonstrate what can be accomplished in the cleanup of brownfields sites impacted by

underground storage tanks when federal, state, tribal, intertribal consortium, local, and

private entities collaborate and combine their knowledge and resources

Take advantage of the expertise and infrastructure already being employed in similar

EPA cleanup projects to maximize the utilization of available resources

Observe and learn from the challenges and accomplishments of pilot projects, with a

view to disseminating the "lessons learned" to other states, tribes, intertribal consortia,

territories, and local entities.

To address these goals, as well as the petroleum releases that plague many of EPA's cleanup

initiatives, EPA implemented the USTfields Pilot project. Selected pilots are large areas

identified by state/local or EPA/tribal partnerships that contain two or more USTfields properties

in need of an assessment or cleanup activities. Each pilot is awarded up to $100,000 from the

LUST Trust Fund that can be used to assess the site for the existence of chemicals of concern

(e.g., MTBE); clean up petroleum contamination; monitor soil and groundwater to evaluate

whether chemicals of concern have been removed; and maintain public/community participation

during the assessment and/or cleanup activities of community sites. Award money cannot be

used for redevelopment activities, general education or job training activities, lobbying efforts,

matching any other federal funds without specific statutory authority, or paying any outstanding

fines or penalties.


The 1998 standards require that all existing USTs either close or come into compliance with the

standards for new tanks. Although an estimated 82 percent of USTs are in compliance with spill,

overfill, and corrosion protection requirements, bringing the remaining 15 percent

(approximately 100,000) of tanks into compliance still poses a challenge to EPA and states. In

addition, many states estimate that only 77percent of tanks are currently in compliance with the

leak detection requirements. Through the Improving Compliance Initiative, EPA hopes to

prevent future releases from USTs by bringing more tanks into compliance, and ensuring that all

tanks remain in compliance. This initiative involves five main components:

Underground Storage Tanks - 21

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

Improving the quality of compliance data by encouraging EPA Regions and states to

initiate an effort to focus particularly on operational compliance data, so that EPA, states,

and the public have an accurate and consistent measure of compliance.

Setting national and Regional targets through 2005 for bringing tanks into operational

compliance with the spill, overfill, and corrosion protection requirements and leak

detection requirements, and obtaining commitments for state-specific targets through

EPA/state UST grants.

Obtaining commitments from states to increase their inspection and enforcement

presence if state-specific targets are not met. Additionally, EPA may elect to supplement

state compliance assurance and enforcement efforts in those states that fall significantly

below compliance targets. Headquarters will work with the Regions and states to reflect

these activities in the planning process.

Exploring the use of the federal audit policy and other approaches to promote multi-site

compliance agreements between EPA and multi-site owners to bring their tanks into

operational compliance.

Providing tools (such as technical assistance, improved guidance, and training) which

will provide owners, operators, and inspectors with accurate information about the

operation and maintenance of UST systems and foster improved operational compliance.


Approximately 160,000 petroleum releases nationwide have yet to be addressed. Furthermore,

cleanup of petroleum releases has become increasingly important in light of the new, more

pervasive threat posed by MTBE releases. The Faster Cleanups initiative makes the cleanup of

existing petroleum contamination caused by releases from federally-regulated USTs a higher

national priority, while striving to increase the pace at which cleanups are initiated and

completed. The four main components of this initiative are:

Setting national and Regional targets through 2005 for cleaning up releases; providing

states with technical support and incentives to help states meet these targets; and

obtaining commitments through EPA/state cooperative agreements for state-specific


Exploring the use of the federal audit policy and other approaches to promote multi-site

cleanup agreements between EPA and multi-site owners to clean up releases from their


Conducting 10 cleanup pilots (one per Region) to test the benefits of incentive based

cleanups (e.g., pay-for-performance cleanup contracts or risk based cleanups) at UST

sites, especially those owned by small businesses and those where MTBE is affecting

drinking water.

22 Underground Storage Tanks

The information in this document is not by any means a complete representation of EPAs regulations or policies,

but is an introduction to the topic used for Call Center training purposes.

Providing tools, such as technical assistance, improved guidance, and training, which will

help states achieve faster, less expensive, and more effective cleanups by assisting with

risk management practices and program performance evaluations, and by providing

guidance on how to improve the cleanup of releases, including MTBE releases.


The Evaluating UST System Performance initiative addresses the need for EPA to obtain more

information about the effectiveness of UST systems, operation and maintenance, and leak

detection requirements. Despite the increased stringency of the new tank standards and leak

detection requirements, there continue to be releases from UST systems, even from UST systems

in full compliance with current requirements. The three main components of this initiative


Evaluating the performance of UST systems to determine what, if any, improvements are


Determining whether the regulations are working and what, if any, changes should be


Determining whether there are regulatory or statutory gaps and, if so, whether they

should be closed.

OUST has already begun the evaluation process and has partnered with industry and academia to

analyze the components and processes of UST systems. Some activities performed by these

partnerships include:

Survey of UST management and operation practices

Field verification of UST system leak detection performance

Investigation of MTBE occurrence associated with operating UST systems

Field investigation of leak prevention and detection.