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Deadline Nears to Fix Underground Storage Tanks in Louisiana

Release Date: 6/22/1998
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     Time is running out to upgrade, replace or properly close underground storage tanks, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reminds owners and operators.

     "There are a limited number of firms which do this type of work. Although the Dec. 22, 1998, deadline allowed ten years  to get tanks in compliance, EPA is concerned that owners who continue to wait to upgrade or close their tanks won’t be able to schedule the work by the deadline,"EPA Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke said.

     When state and federal inspectors checked almost 1,000 of the more than 138,000 underground storage tanks being used in the five states that comprise Region 6 last year, only 40 percent of the retail facilities and about a third of the non-retail facilities inspected were in compliance.

     "We know many facilities have since upgraded their tanks or are currently in the process of upgrading, but all tank owners need to be aware that the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) intends to enforce the law to the fullest. We will continue working closely with EPA to ensure coordination of state and federal enforcement efforts," LDEQ Secretary J. Dale Givens said.

     Regulations require overfill/spill prevention devices, leak detection systems and corrosion protection. They are designed to protect the only source of drinking water for nearly half of all Americans.

     Tanks installed after the regulations were adopted in December 1988 were required to meet the new standards. To give owners of older tanks plenty of time to upgrade or close them, a 10-year deadline for compliance was set. Owners and operators whose tanks do not meet the regulations after the deadline this December can expect stiff penalties.

     EPA and state environmental agencies have worked vigorously to educate owners/operators and to provide help in complying with the law. While many underground storage tanks have been upgraded, replaced or properly closed, EPA and state agencies will be increasing inspections during the remainder of the year to ensure all tanks will meet the standards.

     The regulations apply to buried tanks, mainly those used for gasoline and other petroleum products at service stations and fleet refueling facilities. Some are used to store hazardous chemicals, normally at industrial sites.

     EPA has a free booklet, "Don’t Wait Until 1998," that explains the requirements. Information is available in another booklet titled, "Financing Underground Storage Tank Work: Federal and State Assistance Programs." To order these booklets, call the EPA Region 6 Public Information Hotline at 1-800-424-9346.

     For more specific information about underground storage tanks in Louisiana, contact LDEQ’s underground storage tank program at (504)765-0243.