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EPA Finalizes 2015 Revisions to the 1988 RCRA Underground Storage Tank Regulations

The US EPA has revised the 1988 underground storage tank (UST) regulation and the 1988 state program approval (SPA) regulation.  Some of these changes had their roots in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which set out additional requirements in states that received federal RCRA Subtitle I money from EPA.  Part of the impetus for this regulation was to apply these changes to Indian country and all states.  Other changes relate to revising the regulations in light of technological changes and challenges that have surfaced over the years.  The effective date of the regulations is today, October 13, 2015.  Some of the key changes are set out below.

•  Adding secondary containment requirements for new and replaced tanks and piping.  Effective after 180 days, owners and operators must install secondary containment and interstitial monitoring for all (including petroleum) new and replaced tanks and piping.
•  Adding operator training requirements.  Effective after 3 years, owners and operators must designate individuals to be trained on minimum defined areas.
•  Adding periodic operation and maintenance requirements for UST systems.  Effective after 3 years, owners and operators have additional requirements for regular walkthrough inspections of equipment, spill prevention equipment tests, overfill prevention equipment inspections, containment-sump testing, and release detection equipment testing.
•  Addressing UST systems deferred in the 1988 UST regulation.  Effective after 3 years, EPA removed the deferral of: (i) UST systems storing fuel for use by emergency power generators; and (ii) Field-constructed tanks (FCT), airport hydrant systems (AHS) and wastewater treatment tank systems deferred from subparts B, C, D, E, G, and H.  With respect to the latter, EPA concluded that technology is now available to monitor and detect releases at alternative leak rates and frequencies to make such regulation possible.
•  Adding new release prevention and detection technologies, eliminating others.  EPA added newer technologies: clad and jacketed tanks, non-corrodible piping, continuous in-tank leak detection, and statistical inventory reconciliation updating codes of practice.  Effective immediately, EPA eliminated flow restrictors in vent lines as an option for owners and operators to meet the overfill prevention equipment requirement for newly installed UST systems and when flow restrictors in vent lines are replaced.
•  Updating state program approval requirements to incorporate these new changes.  Effective after 3 years for states with program approval, EPA updated SPA requirements to address these proposed changes to 40 CFR part 280.  States with program approval have 3 years to submit a revised SPA package, which would provide consistency between federal and state UST regulations.

A copy of the final regulation is available here.  On its website, US EPA has collected a helpful set of associated documents here.

By Alexander Bandza, Associate, Jenner & Block

Read more at Corporate Environmental Lawyer Blog by Jenner & Block LLP.

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