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 Underground Storage Tank Research


There are approximately 590,000 underground storage tanks (USTs) nationwide that store petroleum or hazardous substances. The greatest potential threat from a leaking UST is contamination of groundwater, the source of drinking water for nearly half of all Americans. EPA, states, and tribes work together to protect the environment and human health from potential UST releases.

The Underground Storage Tank Program was created by the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments to RCRA of 1984. This law was passed due to the recognition that leaks from underground storage tanks were causing some significant problems. The program is split into two parts: one that addresses underground storage tank (UST) issues including tank technology, installation, inspection, and others; the second addresses leaking underground storage tanks (LUSTs).

EPA conducts research related to assessment, remediation, and management of leaking underground storage tanks. Topic areas include assessment of contaminated sites, biodegradation of fuel components including oxygenated additives and remedial technologies.

Research and Technical Assistance

Current research and technical assistance that are either directly funded by or closely related to LUST are:

EPA published an overview of ethanol composition and properties. The report describes the composition of fuel grade ethanol samples, phase separation for alcohol/water mixtures, properties of fuel ethanol components, and other aspects of ethanol use as a fuel.   

US EPA. (2009) Weaver, J.W., S.A. Skaggs, D.L. Spidle, G.C. Stone. "Composition and Behavior of Fuel Ethanol."  EPA 600/R-09/037.

Gasoline Regulations for the United States

This report describes aspects of gasoline composition regulations that impact leaking underground storage tank sites:

US EPA. (2010) Weaver, J.W., L. R. Exum, and L.M. Prieto. "Gasoline Composition Regulations Affecting LUST Sites." EPA 600/R-10/001.

ORD has developed models for use at LUST sites, including:

Additional information about the underground storage tank program can be obtained from the EPA Office of Underground Storage Tanks.

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See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

Office of Research & Development | National Risk Management Research Laboratory

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