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56 FR 24-26 Wednesday, Jan. 2, 1991 Underground Storage Tanks; Technical Requirements

24-26 Federal Register / Vol. 56, No. 1 / Wednesday, January 2, 1991 / Rules and Regulations


40 CFR Part 280


Underground Storage Tanks; Technical Requirements

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Interim final rule.

SUMMARY: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is today publishing an interim final rule amending the technical requirements for underground storage tanks (USTs) promulgated in the Federal Register on September 23, 1986 (53 FR 37082). Specifically, EPA is extending for 270 days (or until September 22, 1991) the time frame UST owners and operators have to install automatic line leak detectors on new or existing underground pressurized piping systems without the minimum performance of this detection equipment having to meet the 40 CFR 280.43(a)(3) requirements for a probability of detection of 0.95 and a probability of false alarm of 0.05. Under today's modification, owners and operators are still required to (1) equip all pressurized piping with an automatic line leak detector and (2) have either an annual line tightness test conducted, or begin conducting monthly monitoring, by December 22, 1990. Also, all automatic line leak detectors are still required to detect leak rates of 3 gallons per hour (gph) at 10 pounds per square inch (psi) within 1 hour as contained in § 280.44(a), but the associated probabilities of detection and false alarm in § 280.43(a)(3) are being delayed until September 22, 1991, for automatic line leak detectors only.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The amendment to 40 CFR part 280 contained in this rulemaking published today is effective January 2, 1991.

ADDRESSES: The Docket for this rulemaking (Docket No. UST 2-1) is located at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 401 M Street SW, Washington, DC, 20460. The Docket is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for federal holidays. You may make an appointmenent to review materials in the Docket by calling (202) 475-9720.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The RCRA/Superfund Hotline at (800) 424-9346 (toll free) or 382-3000 (in Washington, DC).


I. Background

On September 23, 1988, (53 FR 37082) EPA promulgated technical requirements under subtitle I of RCRA for underground storage tanks containing petroleum or substances defined as hazardous under the Comprehensive Envirommental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended (CERCLA), except for substances regulated as a hazardous waste under subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). These rules went into effect 90 days later on December 22, 1988. The effect of today's document is to delay for 270 days (or until September 22, 1991) the requirement in § 280.40(a)(3) for owners and operators to install automatic line leak detectors on pressurized piping that detect the specified leak rate (under the specified conditions) with a probability of detection (Pd) of 0.95 and a probability of false alarm (Pfa) of 0.05.

Section 280.40(a)(3) in the final rule specifies that all leak detection methods used after December 22, 1990--except for those permanently installed prior to that date--have to be capable of detecting the leak rate or quantity specified for that method with a Pd of 0.95 and a Pfa of 0.05. This requirement applies to automatic line leak detectors, among other methods. EPA stated in the September 23, 1988, preamble to the final rule (53 FR 37145), that the Agency intended to give the various manufacturers time to evaluate their methods to prove they meet the standards in the rule. EPA also explained that the Agency was in the process of developing several different procedures for testing the different release detection methods in order to help manufacturers evaluate their equipment in an objective and technically sound fashion.

EPA has since published over the last 8 months, a series of seven guidance documents entitled Standard Test Procedures for Evaluating Leak Detection Methods. The series includes standards for particular release detection methods specified in the September 23, 1988 rule (53 FR 37082). Most of these procedures were published in final form early in the summer of 1990, and the last procedure, "Pipeline Leak Detection Systems," was published in late September of 1990. Most parties interested in obtaining a copy of this last protocol probably did not receive it until October 1990. As a result, a relatively short time period was allowed for piping leak detector manufacturers to receive the final protocol and make the necessary arrangements for evaluating the performance of their methods.

Over the past two months, the Agency has received comments from the leak detection industry, including comments from the nation's long-time major manufacturer of automatic pressurized line leak detection equipment, regarding the inadequate amount of time available to carry out the EPA protocol evaluation for piping given the late-September release of the final pipeline leak detection systems protocol and the December 22, 1990, regulatory deadline for owners and operators to demonstrate Pd and Pfa for new equipment. This commenter further requested more time to test its equipment and to carry out the protocol in this area. Some commenters also raised several technical concerns about the protocol itself that they believe may require EPA technical revision.

The above situation raises the serious concern that some major manufacturers of automatic line leak detectors will not be able to complete their evaluation under the EPA piping protocols (or another acceptable procedure) by December 22, 1990, when the Pd/Pfa requirements for automatic line leak detectors are scheduled to come into effect under § 280.40(a)(3). This may force some key manufacturers through no apparent fault of their own to withdraw, at least temporarily, a major portion of the currently available detectors from the market place. EPA is concerned with such a potentially significant short fall in the availability of equipment (even if only for a few months) that UST owners and operators could purchase to comply with EPA's pressurized line leak detection requirements. Such a result could cause widespread non-compliance problems as well as unintended detrimental impacts to the environment and public health. As was discussed in the preamble to the final rule (53 FR 37153), the Agency considers the use of automatic line leak detectors to be a key part of our regulatory strategy for avoiding catastrophic releases from pressurized piping leaks. The Agency has received no new information that indicates currently available devices are not discovering, and therefore resulting in the curtailment of, significant pressurized line leaks.

Today's interim final rule is necessary to overcome the above implementation difficulties. By delaying for 270 days the effective date of the 0.95 Pd/0.05 Pfa standard as they apply to automatic line leak detectors, UST owners and operators can continue to install those mechanical line leak detectors for pressurized piping which are most widely available and currently being used extensively in the industry. EPA has been encouraging the use of these devices for the past two years. This temporary action also represents a significant benefit in terms of protecting human health and the environment since these leak detection devices will continue to be used uninterrupted and the catastrophic-type releases they are designed to detect will continue to be detected. Today's action is intended to allow manufacturers sufficient time to complete their equipment evaluations that have been delayed by the late release of the EPA protocol. They will also be able to make manufacturing adjustments (if necessary) before the Pd and Pfa for automatic line leak detectors become effective. Finally, the 270-day delay gives EPA the time it needs to consider the technical comments it has received about the protocol.

Until the probabilities become effective for automatic line leak detectors (September 22, 1991), these devices need only detect the leak rate of 3 gph as specified in § 280.44(a). Automatic line leak detectors installed prior to September 22, 1991, will not have to be replaced after the probabilities become effective, but all those installed after that period of time will have to achieve the probability standards.

It is important to note that delaying the Pd and Pfa performance criteria for automatic line leak detectors to September 22, 1991, in no way changes the requirement that all new and existing and piping that conveys regulated substances under pressure be equipped with an automatic line leak detector and either have an annual line tightness test conducted or have applicable monthly monitoring conducted. It is also important to note that the delay in Pd and Pfa is only for the automatic line leak detector requirements for pressurized piping. The Pd and Pfa associated with all other leak detection methods (e.g., tank tightness testing, automatic gauging and line tightness testing) will become effective December 22, 1990, as mandated in § 280.40(a)(3) of the regulations, and for the reasons discussed in the original September 23, 1988, Federal Register (53 FR 37082).

II. Need for Interim Final Rule

EPA is not soliciting comments prior to the effective date of today's rulemaking. Under section 3(b) of the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. 553(b) the Agency may for good cause omit notice and comment procedures. The Agency believes it has good cause to omit notice and comment procedures. When EPA developed the phase-in schedule of compliance for the Pd and Pfa, the Agency believed that the development of the protocols for testing, evaluating and reporting on the performance of the different methods of leak detection and the accompanying evaluation by manufacturers and/or third parties would be complete 24 months from promulgation of the final technical requirements. However, because of unforeseen delays in getting the final piping protocol completed, as was previously explained in this preamble discussion, unintended non-compliance with an essential requirement (automatic line leak detection) would result without today's interim final amendment to delay the compliance date in the rules for 270 days. EPA believes, therefore, that providing notice and comment on this amendment is impractical and contrary to public interest.

The Agency is, however, soliciting comments on today's regulatory amendments. Comments may be submitted on or before February 1, 1991.

Comments will be considered by the Agency and, if necessary, the Agency will issue a revised final rule changing today's amendment to respond to these comments.

III. Executive Order 12291

Under Executive Order 12291, EPA must judge whether a regulation is "major" and therefore subject to the requirement of a Regulatory Impact Analysis. Since this document is merely an amendment to an existing regulation delaying one compliance date, the rule is not "major" as contained in the Office of Management and Budget's Interim Regulatory Impact Analysis Guidance.

This document was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review as required by Executive Order 12291.

Dated: December 21, 1990.

William K. Reilly,

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 280

Hazardous substances, Insurance, Oil pollution, Surety bonds, Water pollution, Water supply.

For the reasons set out in this document, part 280 of title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, is amended as set forth below.


1. The authority citation for part 280 continues to read as follows:

Authority: 42 U.S.C. 6912, 6991, 6991(a), 6991(b), 6991(c) , 6991(d), 6991(e), 6991(f), and 6991(h).

2. Section 280.40 is amended by revising paragraph (a)(3) to read as follows:

§ 280.40 General requirements for all UST systems.
(a) * * *
3. Meets the performance requirements in § 280.43 or 280.44, with any performance claims and their manner of determination described in writing by the equipment manufacturer or installer. In addition, methods used after the date shown in the following table corresponding with the specified method except for methods permanently installed prior to that date, must be capable of detecting the leak rate or quantity specified for that in method in the corresponding section of the rule (also shown in the table) with a probability of detection (Pd) of 0.95 and a probability of false alarm (Pfa) of 0.05.

Method Section Date after which Pd/ Pfa must be demonstrated
Manual Tank Gauging. 280.43(b) December 22, 1990.
Tank Tightness Testing. 280.43(c) December 22, 1990.
Automatic Tank Gauging. 280.43(d) December 22, 1990.
Automatic Line Leak Detection. 280.44(a) September 22, 1991.
Line Tightness Testing. 280.44(b) December 22, 1990.

* * * * *

[FR Doc. 90-30595 Filed 12-31-90; 8:45 am]

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