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Underground Storage Tank (UST) Operation and Maintenance


Program Information
Photo of an installation of new underground storage tanks.

To monitor compliance for federally regulated UST systems in the Southeast, EPA follows this general approach:


UST INSPECTIONS - GENERAL INFORMATION

Why Conduct UST Inspections?
During inspections and leaking underground storage tank (LUST) investigations, EPA has found that many UST systems are not being installed, operated or maintained properly, resulting in leaks to nearby soils and groundwater. Often times, equipment is found to be not functioning, broken or missing; therefore, many tank owners cannot detect leaks or spills or whether a piece of equipment has failed.

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Who Conducts Inspections in Region 4?
In Region 4, EPA Inspectors can inspect UST facilities in any state and does so periodically to assist a state, provide training or to conduct oversight. In Indian country, EPA, not the state, conducts inspections at UST facilities, which includes facilities on Indian reservations owned by non-Indians.

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EPA INSPECTIONS - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Note: For UST inspections conducted by the state, contact your applicable state agency. To find out who to contact, visit our UST EPA and State Contacts listings.


What Tanks are Inspected?
All currently in use and temporarily out of use UST systems that are federally regulated may be inspected.

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How Can I Prepare for an EPA Inspection?

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What Happens During an EPA Inspection?

Contaminated Site
Usually, an EPA Inspector will contact the owner / operator of an UST facility within a week or two beforehand to schedule an inspection. However, EPA periodically conducts unannounced inspections as well. During the inspection, the EPA Inspector will determine whether you are operating and maintaining your UST system in compliance with federal UST regulations. The EPA Inspector will examine your records, including documentation pertaining to financial responsibility (e.g. insurance documents), release detection, any repairs or upgrades that you have had performed on your UST system, and cathodic protection / tank lining (if applicable). The EPA Inspector also will examine your UST system itself, including the tank, piping, dispensers, overfill and spill protection equipment, release detection equipment, and corrosion protection equipment (if applicable). The EPA Inspector will ask the operator and their employees questions to determine whether they understand how to operate and maintain the UST system and whether they know what to do in the event of an emergency (i.e. an alarm sounding, a spill).

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What Happens if the EPA Inspector Finds Something Wrong?
Depending on the severity and nature of the violation, an EPA Inspector may issue the owner / operator an enforcement action that requires the owner / operator to correct the violation within a certain time period and may involve a monetary fine. Any serious noncompliance issues may be referred for formal enforcement. Pursuit of these violations is at the discretion of the EPA UST / LUST Program and the Department of Justice. For further information, visit our Enforcement page.

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UST INSTALLATIONS, CHANGE-IN-SERVICE AND CLOSURES

Photo of an installation of new underground storage tanks.

Installing Underground Storage Tank.

If you are installing, changing-in-service or closing an UST system, you should notify appropriate authorities at least 30 days before doing so. (Note: Some agencies require prior notification and/or permits. Check with the appropriate agency.) If installing a new system, the proper authorities will add it to their operating UST facilities list; likewise, if closing an UST system, they will remove it from this list after proper closure. Also, by notifying appropriate authorities, it will give an UST Inspector an opportunity to visit your facility while the work is being conducted to assist you in the process and answer any questions that you may have.

Our goal is to ensure that UST systems are installed, operated, maintained and closed safely, and in compliance with UST regulations, to prevent harm to others and the environment. We are here to assist you so that you can start operation of your UST system on the right foot. Likewise, we can provide you assistance so that you can close out your UST system properly, in accordance with UST regulations, the first time round.

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Who Should I Contact? What Should I Do?
In EPA Region 4, the appropriate authority to notify for UST installations and closures is based on whether or not your facility is located in Indian country.

If your facility is NOT in Indian country, you should contact your appropriate state agency that regulates UST installations and closures. States have various notification requirements, including submitting written notifications, obtaining permits, finding out the minimum time for submittals and submitting site assessment reports for UST closures. Check with your state agency.

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If your facility is in Indian country, including sites on Indian reservations owned by non-Indians -

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For information about the contents of this page please contact Linda Williams


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