Underground Storage Tanks / Leaking Underground Storage Tanks Enforcement
To achieve compliance, we use all tools available, including inspections, enforcement actions and compliance assistance, among others. Compliance with UST regulations not only protects human health and the environment, but it makes good business sense too!
Enforcement ResponsibilitiesEPA Region 4 is responsible for enforcing federal regulations that pertain to UST systems in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee and in Indian country.
In Subtitle I of RCRA, Congress allowed EPA to delegate UST enforcement authority to state agencies after EPA has approved their program (known as State Program Approval or “SPA”). EPA works with state agencies to develop their UST programs so that they meet the criteria required under RCRA and the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Once approved, the state has the primary role for implementing the program and enforcing its regulations. However, EPA retains the right to become involved in enforcement activities against a facility even under programs delegated to a state agency.
To date, EPA has granted State Program Approval to Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. For more information on these states’ UST programs, visit the states’ web sites.
State UST Program:
- Alabama Department of Environmental Management
- Georgia Department of Natural Resources - Land Protection
- Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality
- North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
- South Carolina Division of UST Assessment & Corrective Action
- Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
Although the states of Kentucky and Florida enforce the rules of their state programs, EPA has the right to enforce federal regulations within those states if found necessary. For more information on Florida’s and Kentucky’s UST programs, visit the states’ web sites.State Websites:
EPA UST Enforcement Actions
In Region 4, EPA’s response to UST violations can vary due to the nature of the violation. Any serious noncompliance issues may be addressed via formal or informal enforcement at the discretion of the EPA UST / LUST Program. Types of enforcement actions typically invoked in the EPA UST / LUST program (ranging from the least to the most punitive) are:
Field Citations (or Expedited Enforcement Compliance Orders and Settlement Agreements)
Examples of violations include failure to conduct release detection, maintain corrosion protection systems and/or other release prevention systems, or to properly document financial responsibility. Violations must be corrected during a specified time period depending on the violation. Owners / operators can request a 30-day extension. Fine: $70 – $420 for each violation
- Administrative Complaint and Compliance Orders (or Consent Agreement and Final Orders)
These orders may be issued to an owner / operator for failure to follow such regulatory requirements as reporting a leak, responding to a suspected leak, or cleaning up contamination. These orders can also be used with owner/operators that have a history of non-compliance or have been referred to EPA by a state. Also, if an owner or operator of an UST system fails to resolve a Field Citation, then EPA may withdraw/rescind the Field Citation and issue an Administrative Compliant.
Fine: Varies depending on the severity of noncompliance and the UST Penalty Policy, but can be as high as the statutory maximum, which authorizes civil penalties as high as $16,000 per tank, per day for each violation, in some cases.
Before pursuing a formal enforcement action, EPA practices discretion by weighing the nature of the violation against any factors unique to the facility or the owner/operator including the inability to pay.
- Delivery Prohibition
Delivery prohibition is an enforcement option to address serious violations, emergency situations, and potential emergency situations or violations, as well as repeat violators. A "red-tag" will be affixed on a tank-by-tank basis and not an entire facility, unless appropriate under the circumstances.
State Delivery Prohibition Programs
EPA's state delivery prohibition programs Web pages provide information regarding states' delivery prohibition programs, including applicable laws, regulations, and policies. EPA compiled this information to help fuel delivery drivers determine if an underground storage tank is not eligible to receive fuel.
Policy for EPA Regions When Enforcing Delivery Prohibition
EPA's Policy on Underground Storage Tanks Delivery Prohibition provides EPA's regions with recommended procedures for prohibiting deliveries and describes when delivery prohibition may be appropriate.