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Community Engagement And The Underground Storage Tank Program

In December 2009, EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) launched its Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) to encourage stakeholders’ meaningful participation in government decisions regarding land cleanup, emergency preparedness and response, and management of hazardous substances and wastes. In May 2010, OSWER issued an Implementation Plan (PDF) (23 pp, 587K, About PDF) that outlined specific actions to achieve the goals and objectives of the CEI. EPA’s Office of Underground Storage Tanks developed this web page to share data and highlight effective community engagement practices.

Community engagement at underground storage tank (UST) sites varies and is dependent on many factors including site location; severity of the release; impact to the drinking water supply; or impact to the local community or environment. Many UST releases involve relatively minor or no groundwater contamination and communities may choose not to be involved in cleanup decisions; however, some releases may have significant impacts on communities.  Also, if the site is to be redeveloped or reused, communities may participate in planning and determining reuse options.

With the exception of UST systems located on Indian lands, states and territories are the primary implementers of the UST program within their boundaries. Federal UST regulations require that states and territories provide notice about corrective action plans (CAP), make site release information and decisions on the CAP available upon request, and hold public meetings if necessary. Additional public notice is required if cleanup levels are not achieved or termination of the CAP is considered.

Many states and territories engage with communities above what is required in the federal regulations.


As of September 2014, there are approximately 571,000 underground storage tanks 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 approximately half of all Americans. EPA, states, territories, and tribes work together to protect human health and the environment from potential UST releases. For additional information on the underground storage tank program, see www.epa.gov/oust.

Community Engagement At LUST Sites

Below are community engagement stories at sites where communities were actively involved and proved to be valuable partners in the decision process.

Alabama: National Historic Voting Rights Trail, Selma to Montgomery (PDF) (2 pp, 106K, About PDF)

California: Former Holland Oil Site, San Leandro (PDF) (1 pg, 91K, About PDF)

Kansas: Quinter Site (PDF) (2 pp, 165K, About PDF)

South Dakota: Timber Lake (PDF) (1 pg, 117K, About PDF)

Utah: C-4 Top Stop, Gunnison City (PDF) (2 pp, 150K, About PDF)

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