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In Major EPA Effort To Prevent Contamination of Drinking Water, Thousands of Businesses Face Tank Deadline

Release Date: 09/03/1998
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(#98121) New York, N.Y. -- In a continuing effort to dramatically curtail releases of petroleum and hazardous substances into underground water supplies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reminds all owners and operators of underground storage tanks (USTs) that they have until December 22, 1998 to upgrade, replace, or close tanks not in compliance with new EPA UST requirements. UST owners and operators have had since December 1988 to conform to the new UST standards, and those not in compliance by the end of December 1998 will face stiff penalties.

"Releases from underground storage tanks are the number one source of groundwater contamination, with petroleum as the major culprit," said EPA Region 2 Administrator Jeanne M. Fox. "EPA is committed to seeing that human health and the well-being of our environment is not threatened due to USTs that do not conform to current standards. For the past ten years, EPA and the state government have worked with UST owners and operators to remedy this problem. We expect any owners or operators who have not complied to do so promptly."

USTs are owned and operated by large corporations, gas stations, convenience stores, airports, marinas, car rental companies, car dealerships, oil refining facilities, and municipalities, among many others. They are used primarily to store gasoline, diesel fuel, crude oil, heating oil, and some hazardous chemicals. Many tanks that fail to meet the new requirements are made of bare, unprotected steel, which, when corroded, may allow the tanks' contents to leak. With over 50% of the U.S. population relying on groundwater as its primary source of drinking water and an average of 30,000 UST leaks reported annually, the need for UST upgrading is clear. There are an estimated 39,000 underground storage tanks throughout New York State.

UST system upgrading consists of adding corrosion protection and installing devices to protect against content spills and overfills. For more information on upgrading or replacing old USTs, contact the EPA UST office at (212) 637-3352, or the New York Department of Environmental Conservation at (888) 457-4351.

Reporters seeking more in-depth information on the subject of underground storage tanks may contact Nina Habib Spencer at (212) 637-3670 for a briefing.

For more information contact:
Nina Habib Spencer, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3670 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: