Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUSTs)
- What is a LUST site?
- What do I do if I find a leak or have a spill?
- Who do I contact in EPA Region 4?
- Petroleum Brownfields
What is a LUST site?
It can be an area contaminated not just from leaking underground storage tanks, but also from spills and overfills that occurred when USTs were in use.
USTs contain not only petroleum products like diesel fuel and gasoline, but also other contaminants of concern like lead, lead scavengers, MTBE and other oxygenated compounds added to petroleum fuel. Some USTs are used to store hazardous substances. The greatest potential hazard from a leaking UST is that these contaminants can seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater, the source of drinking water for nearly half of all Americans, making water unsafe or unpleasant to drink. Leaking underground storage tanks can present other health and environmental risks, including the potential for fire and explosion.
What do I do if find a leak or have a spill?
Limiting contamination from spills, overfills and leaking USTs into the surrounding environment depends on you! If you suspect or discover that your UST system is leaking or you have a spill greater than 25 gallons, you must notify the implementing agency (state) within 24 hours upon discovery. If you do not report the incident, you may be subject to fines and additional penalties. To determine who to contact in Region 4 (e.g. EPA or your state’s environmental program), read on.
Who do I contact in EPA Region 4?
Indian country - In EPA Region 4, EPA directly oversees the cleanup of LUST sites in Indian country, which includes sites on Indian reservations owned by non-Indians. To contact us for further information, technical assistance or to report an UST leak or spill, visit the Indian country section of our site.
Local communities have been grappling with what to do about abandoned, contaminated properties. Of the estimated 450,000 brownfields sites in the United States, approximately one half of them are thought to be impacted by underground storage tanks or some type of petroleum contamination. Federal, state and local organizations and private partners are working together to foster the reuse and subsequent economic recovery of petroleum-contaminated sites. The following federal programs have been at work in Region 4 to assist local communities in reusing petroleum contaminated properties:
In January 2002, President Bush signed into law the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act ("Brownfields Law"), which expanded the EPA Brownfields program to include petroleum contamination. For the first time, low-risk petroleum sites are eligible for assessment and cleanup grant funding under the program, which allocates 25 percent of its funding strictly for petroleum brownfields cleanup and assessment. Prior to this enactment, petroleum sites were ineligible for Brownfields grants funding.
In 2012, EPA awarded over $69.3 million in Brownfields grants to assess and clean up contaminated sites. Recipients included abandoned gas stations and industrial and retail properties that contain, or were perceived to contain, petroleum contamination. For more information, visit the National Office of Underground Storage Tanks's (OUST) web site EPA Grants for Petroleum Brownfields Properties.
A number of entities, including states, tribes and local governments, are eligible to apply for Brownfields grants, which are awarded annually. For more information on Region 4's Brownfields program, visit the Brownfields web page.
Additional information pertaining to cleaning up underground storage tank system releases can be found at EPA’s main web site maintained by OUST.