Underground Storage Tank Upgrade Deadline Approaching

April 1, 1999 Advisory

If you have not already done so, underground storage tanks must be upgraded, replaced or properly closed by December 22, 1998 in order to meet the requirements of federal regulations that take effect that day. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") set the deadline 10 years ago to give tank owners plenty of time to comply with the new environmental regulations. This deadline applies only to tanks with a capacity of over 110 gallons and to tanks that are not used for the storage of heating oil for on-site consumption.

Under EPA regulations that took effect in December of 1988, tanks installed before that date and which are not protected against corrosion, spills, and overfills must be upgraded, replaced, or properly closed by December 22, 1998. Given the environmental damage which can result from leaking underground storage tanks and considering that the EPA set the December 22nd deadline ten years ago, we anticipate aggressive enforcement of the new regulations including stiff penalties.

There are about 17,000 regulated underground storage tanks in Connecticut alone, an estimated 10 percent of which need to be upgraded. The New England states and the EPA are planning to work together in aggressively enforcing state and federal requirements for upgrading, replacing or removing bare steel, commercial underground storage tanks.

Underground storage tanks that are considered to be in compliance must have at a minimum:

  1. corrosion protection on the tank and piping;
  2. a method of leak detection;
  3. catchment basins to contain spills from delivery hoses; and
  4. overfill protection such as an automatic shutoff device.

Costs to bring a facility into compliance with the 1998 requirements vary widely, depending on the size and nature of a facility, local labor rates, and other factors. As we approach December 1998, these costs could rise due to increased customer demands and finding available contractors to do the work by the deadline may be difficult.