Storage tanks are regulated at the federal, state and local levels. Federal regulations primarily concern: (1) spill prevention, control, and countermeasure planning; and (2) the installation, operation, closure, and remediation of USTs. State and local regulations may have more stringent regulations and may require permitting or registration of ASTs and USTs.
When determining if the facility could reasonably discharge oil into navigable waters, the location in relation to streams, ponds, ditches (perennial or intermittent), storm or sanitary sewers, wetlands, mudflats, sandflats, or farm tile drains must be considered. Any oil that has the potential to discharge into a storm or sanitary sewer drain would be sufficient to reach a determination that a discharge is reasonably likely even if a water body is not nearby.
SPCC planning requirements are focused on tank design, secondary containment of bulk oil storage tanks and containers, routine oil handling procedures, integrity testing and periodic inspections, spill response procedures, and personnel training. Periodic inspections and testing are required to assess the integrity of all bulk storage tanks or containers with inspection records kept with the plan for at least three years. Generally, SPCC Plans must be certified by a professional engineer. However, retailers with less than 10,000 gallons of total aboveground oil storage may qualify as a Tier 1 qualified facility and can selfcertify their SPCC plan without using a professional engineer. See EPA’s oil spills prevention and preparedness website for guidance as well as template and example plans for Tier 1 qualified facilities.
A discharge of oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines must be immediately reported to the National Response Center (NRC) at 1-800-424-8802 or 1-202-267-2675 when the discharge:
EPA maintains information on
federal oil spill reporting requirements. State reporting obligations vary and may be more stringent than federal requirements, including obligations to report spills of oil or hazardous substances at lower thresholds. The Retail Compliance Center maintains a matrix of state spill reporting requirements.
The primary federal regulations addressing petroleum containing ASTs are the SPCC Rule (EPA regulations at 40 CFR Part 112) and OSHA regulations at 29 CFR 1910.106. Most states impose AST registration, design, installation, operation, and/or permitting requirements. For example, some states have additional requirements for sizing secondary containment, such as a certain number of inches or a one hundred year storm level. ASTs containing used or waste oil may also need to be managed within the SPCC plan, but containers may need to labeled according to state rules.
For installation considerations, local fire codes often limit tank capacity, and require minimum tank separation from buildings, public ways, dispensers, and other ASTs. Typical code spacing requirements are 50 feet separation for non-rated ASTs, 25 feet separation for fire-resistant ASTs, and 5 feet for fire-protected ASTs. Information on fire-resistant/protected tanks can be found at UL 2085
and UL 142. Check state and local regulations, including the fire marchal, for AST requirements.
EPA recommends that all AST systems have some form of corrosion protection for the tank. Options include elevating tanks so they are not in contact with the ground, resting tanks on continuous concrete slabs, installing double-walled tanks, cathodically protecting the tanks, internally lining tanks, inspecting tanks (this is also required under the SPCC planning requirements), or a combination of the options listed above. EPA also recommends that all underground piping to the tank should be either cathodically protected or double-walled with an interstitial leak detection system. To maximize tank system safety, the floors, containment area, and sump pump pit should be sealed with an appropriate coating (e.g., petroleum resistant coating). Any accumulated water should be inspected for petroleum or chemicals prior to discharge.
EPA regulations for USTs under 40 CFR Part 280 specify minimum requirements for design, installation, operation, maintenance, monitoring, and closure of USTs. In addition, federal UST requirements include provisions for release detection, release response and corrective action, financial responsibility in case of spills, overfills, and release. See EPA's website for additional UST information.
Generally, new and replaced USTs must:
In addition, all new dispensers must be equipped with under-dispenser containment that is liquid-tight and that allows for either visual inspection or that can be periodically monitored for leaks. When installing or replacing USTs to store certain biofuels (substances containing greater than 10 percent ethanol or greater than 20 percent biodiesel), you must meet certain recordkeeping requirements to demonstrate compatibility. See EPA's guidance for UST owners storing biofuels.
Under federal UST regulations, retailer's must designate and train Class A, Class B, and Class C operators by October 13, 2018. The three operator class descriptions are:
The EPA also requires that all operators be retrained in areas where a compliance violation is identified or impement periodic refresher training.
The EPA’s regulations allow states the flexibility to establish their own state training requirements, so long as the operator training program meets the minimum federal standards.
The most important sustainability aspect associated with tanks is spill prevention as petroleum contamination can degrade habitat by causing water and soil contamination. A good tank management program and compliance with environmental regulations can significantly reduce the potential for spills or make sure that if a spill occurs it is found and resolved quickly.
Compliance obligations can be reduced by rightsizing tanks or reducing the amount of petroleum stored in tanks or number of tanks at your facility. Staying below reporting thresholds or SPCC plan thresholds can save effort and reduce regulatory requirements.
Look here for retail-specific information on environmental regulations by regulatory area. If you don’t know which areas apply, use the store department search function.