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Indiana Legislature Considers Aboveground Storage Tank Legislation

By Marc C. Bryson, Member, Steptoe & Johnson PLLC.

On January 12, 2015, the Indiana Senate Environmental Affairs Committee heard a first reading of two bills aimed at addressing perceived threats to public water supplies posed by aboveground storage tanks. Senator Ed Charbonneau, the Republican Chair of the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee introduced Senate Bill 311 (Recovery of remedial action oversight costs), [enhanced version available to subscribers], and Senate Bill 312 (Tank registration and water threat minimization), [enhanced version available to subscribers].

Senate Bill 311 amends the existing definitions of the terms “remedial action”, “removal”, and “response” in order to provide that those definitions apply to releases of petroleum. The Bill also provides for agreements between the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and potentially responsible parties concerning removal and remedial action at a contaminated site. Under the language of the Bill, these agreements may allow the Commissioner to obtain reimbursement of oversight costs incurred by the Department in reviewing the removal and remedial action undertaken by a potentially responsible party in the event of a spill.

Senate Bill 312 requires the owner of an above ground storage tank that has a capacity of at least 200 gallons to register the tank with IDEM. Tanks containing drinking water or residential heating fuel and swimming pools are exempt from the requirements of the Bill. Each tank must be registered and the tank owner must identify:

  • ·   The storage capacity of the tank;

  • ·   The age of the tank;

  • ·   The type of liquid stored in the tank;

  • ·   The composition of the tank;

  • ·   The location of the tank;

  • ·   The name and address of the tank owner; and

  • ·   Any other information required by IDEM.

The Bill also requires public water systems that use surface water as a source of drinking water to develop and maintain a surface water threat minimization and response plan.

Both of the proposed Bills appear to implement requirements that, in many cases, are duplicitous with existing federal regulations for aboveground storage tanks. Existing programs applicable to ASTs include The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), The Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Act (SPCC), The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) process safety management regulations, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act (EPCRA), and numerous other federal and state programs. The proposed Bills are also very broad and will apply to nearly all types of aboveground tanks in the State.

We will continue to monitor the progress of Indiana Senate Bills 311 and 312.

Marc Bryson concentrates his practice in matters involving energy law, environmental law, environmental litigation, and administrative law. His practice consists of cases involving permitting and regulatory requirements for water and wastewater utilities, solid waste, coalbed methane, oil, and natural gas.

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