Benefits, Impacts, and Studies of Preventing and Cleaning Up UST Releases
Read about the benefits of EPA’s UST program in preventing and cleaning up UST releases.
- EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics - UST Releases and Property Values
- EPA's Louisiana Study - Frequency of Inspection Rates and UST Compliance
- EPA ORD Studies – Proximity of USTs in Oklahoma to Private Domestic Wells and Impact of UST Releases on Drinking Water
- EPA's Regulatory Analysis of the 2015 UST Regulations - Economic Benefits
EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics conducted studies and published working papers about the effect of underground storage tank releases on property values and the benefits of preventing, cleaning up, and reusing formerly contaminated UST sites.
- Working Paper 2016-01 Do Housing Values Respond to Underground Storage Tank Releases? Evidence from High-Profile Cases across the United States
discussed monetized estimates of the benefits of preventing and cleaning up UST releases, as reflected in house values. The study focused on 17 of the most high-profile UST releases in the United States, with release discovery and other milestone events occurring at different points between 1985 and 2013. The study showed that, on average, there is a 3 to 6 percent depreciation when a high profile UST release is discovered and a 4 to 9 percent appreciation after the UST release is cleaned up. Average effects diminished with distance extending out to 2 or 3 kilometers from the UST release site.
- Working Paper 2014-05 Prevention, Cleanup, and Reuse Benefits from the Federal UST Program
discussed relevant benefit categories associated with preventing and remediating UST releases, as well as reuse of formerly contaminated UST sites. The study examined these benefit categories: improvements in human health, ecosystem services, aesthetics, recreational opportunities, and land productivity.
- Working Paper 2012-01 What Do Property Values Really Tell Us? A Hedonic Study of Underground Storage Tanks
discussed applying both omitted variable bias and validity of assumed environmental measure to leaking underground storage tanks. This focused on a detailed hedonic study on house prices from 1996-2007 in three areas of Maryland: Baltimore County, Frederick County, and Baltimore City.
Results from EPA’s study suggest that increased UST compliance in Louisiana is a result of increasing inspection frequency from approximately every six years to every three years as required under the Energy Policy Act. EPA’s statistical model, using Louisiana’s UST data, showed a positive and statistically significant effect of increased inspection frequency on facility compliance. In the study, EPA examined the impact of changes in inspection frequency on compliance by combining UST facility-level data from Louisiana’s Department of Environmental Quality with data on the socioeconomic and biophysical characteristics of the facilities’ location
- Do More Frequent Inspections Improve Compliance? Evidence from UST facilities in Louisiana
- February 2017 webinar
EPA's Office of Research and Development has been conducting studies of the proximity of private domestic wells to underground storage tank (UST) sites in order to assess potential impact of UST releases on drinking water and the public. These studies highlight the importance of strong release prevention and cleanup programs. A pilot study was published in December 2017 using data from Oklahoma. A second report, also published in 2017, evaluated various mapping and plume transport tools in assessing vulnerability of drinking water sources to potential releases from leaking USTs.
EPA is now working to expand the Oklahoma pilot study to the entire U.S.
- Estimation of the proximity of private domestic wells to underground storage tanks: Oklahoma pilot study Exit
- Relationships between Private Domestic Wells and Underground Storage Tanks: Evaluation of Mapping and Plume Transport Tool Implementations
EPA’s regulatory impact analysis for the 2015 UST regulations discussed the economic benefits of revising the UST regulations to reflect technology improvements, address outdated requirements, and place a stronger emphasis on operations and maintenance.
- Assessment Of The Potential Costs, Benefits, And Other Impacts Of The Final Revisions To EPA’s Underground Storage Tank Regulations (PDF) (167 pp, 2.5 MB, About PDF)
monetized a number of positive impacts of the 2015 UST regulation. Specifically, EPA estimated that the 2015 UST regulation will avoid total costs of between $120 million per year to $530 million per year. This includes avoided remediation costs from avoided releases and avoided groundwater contamination incidents; avoided vapor intrusion remediation costs; and avoided product loss. Avoided remediation costs associated with conventional UST systems form the majority of positive impacts from the 2015 UST regulation.
The analysis also quantified, but did not value, groundwater impacts. EPA estimated that the 2015 UST regulation could potentially protect 50 billion to 240 billion gallons of groundwater each year. These categories of nonmonetizable or nonquantifiable benefits are qualitatively discussed in this analysis: avoidance of human health risks; mitigation of acute exposure events and large-scale releases (for example, releases from airport hydrant fuel distribution systems and field-constructed tanks); protection of ecological biota; and avoided property devaluation.