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Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUSTs)


Program Information

Contaminated Site
EPA's federal underground storage tank (UST) regulations require that leaking underground storage tank (LUST) sites must be cleaned up to restore and protect groundwater resources and create a safe environment for those who live or work around these sites.

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.

Contaminated Site
USTs leak for a variety of reasons. Some tanks are made of steel, which are likely to corrode over time, causing tank contents to leak into nearby soils and groundwater. Faulty installation or inadequate operation and maintenance of UST systems also can cause a leak or a spill. It has been found that faulty spill buckets are a major cause of contamination

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.

Dual Phase Extraction Unit
In Region 4, about 123,000 confirmed releases at UST sites have been reported. Steady cleanup work has progressed for over a twenty years and over 97,000 contaminated sites have been cleaned up. While much good work has been done, there are about 26,000 UST sites remaining to be cleaned up. To see a breakdown of this data by state and Indian country and to see how we compare to other regions, you can go to the corrective action measures page, which is maintained by EPA’s Office of Underground Storage Tanks (OUST) in Washington, DC.

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What do I do if find a leak or have a spill?

Have You Checked Your Tank Today? 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.

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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.

All Others - For LUST sites that are NOT in Indian country, each state in EPA Region 4 oversees the cleanup. For further information on state programs, who to contact for more information and to report an UST leak or a spill, you can access their web site by visiting the State section of our EPA & State Contacts page.

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Petroleum Brownfields

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:

Contaminated Site

NEED MORE INFORMATION ON LUST CLEAN UPS?

Additional information pertaining to cleaning up underground storage tank system releases can be found at EPA’s main web site maintained by OUST.

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


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