Environmental News Network
Just 1 year left to comply with UST rules
Tuesday, December 23, 1997
Major petroleum industry groups joined the EPA Monday to express
support for full compliance with the EPA's underground storage tank
regulations by all petroleum underground storage tank owners.
The deadline for compliance is Dec. 22, 1998. By that time all
regulated underground petroleum storage tanks installed before 1988 must
either be upgraded to meet new tank standards, replaced or closed.
The EPA regulations, which have been phased in over the past nine years,
are intended to ensure that the underground tank systems either be
replaced or upgraded to assure that they do not leak gasoline or other
petroleum products into the nation's groundwater supply.
The EPA estimates that there are some 969,650 active underground
storage tanks in the United States. Approximately half of those systems
are located at retail gasoline stations and convenience stores, and the
remainder are located at commercial vehicle fleet facilities, state and
local government fueling facilities, and various other non-retail
The average cost of cleaning up a contaminated soil site is $125,000,
while cleanups involving groundwater supplies can cost over $1
million, depending on the extent of the contamination, according to
EPA. EPA, working in conjunction with the states, has the authority to
fine underground storage tank owners, and close locations that are not
in compliance by the 1998 deadline. The Agency has stressed on numerous
occasions that there will be no extension of the deadline.
"Nine years ago, in response to a Congressional mandate, EPA issued
regulations designed to prevent, detect, and clean up releases from
underground storage tanks. Since that time, EPA has worked closely with
states to implement these regulations and to conduct extensive outreach
activities. Industry has been a valuable and dedicated partner in these
efforts to inform tank owners and operators about the regulatory
deadlines and assist them in complying. We stand before you today to
demonstrate that this partnership remains strong, and to remind those
who have yet to act that only one year remains to comply with the 1998
requirements," said Tim Fields, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA's
Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.
Offering a state perspective was Jane T. Nishida, Maryland's Secretary
of the Environment. "Forty percent of Maryland's population uses
groundwater, which means that there is a great need to protect this
resource from petroleum contamination," she said. "Thousands of
underground storage tank owners have already complied with the law,
which was designed to protect human health and the environment. We are
now in the last stretch of full implementation of the program. Industry
groups at the press conference also pledged to work with EPA in an
outreach effort designed to remind their members, as well as
owners, of the deadline.
"Antiquated underground petroleum storage tank systems are an
environmental risk to the groundwater that must be ended," said Bob
Phillips, Jr., an Oklahoma petroleum marketer who serves as president of
the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America. "Our message
today for those who have not upgraded their tanks is clear: You've had
nine years to act, and you have one more year to get the work done. This
has been a well-publicized program. The message has been clear and
consistent. So make your decision right now. One year from today, will
your tank systems be up to standards, or will you have them shut down?
There will be no other option," said Phillips.
"A majority of our members are supplied by refiners and large jobbers
who have already made the necessary upgrades," said Roy Littlefield,
president of the Service Station Dealers of America. "We will continue
to make every effort through national and trade publications to inform
independent dealers of the Dec. 22, 1998 deadline," he added.
For more information, call the EPA's toll-free hotline, (800)424-9346
or contact Sammy Ng, EPA, (703)603-7166.