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Tank Systems


Environmental regulations can be complicated and overlapping, often proving difficult to identify all requirements that apply to an operation. In each Related Program Index (RPI) this task is simplified by identifying implications one program applicably often has on others. This RPI uses the J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc. broad regulatory knowledge to recommend regulations and compliance programs that may also apply when underground storage tank (UST) system regulations (40 CFR 280, 281, and 282) cover an operation. Also consider any state regulations for your aboveground storage tank (AST) systems — ASTs are mostly regulated at the local level and are not widely addressed in federal regs.

If UST and/or AST regulations apply, you should also consider …


The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, is intended to establish a mechanism of response for the immediate cleanup of hazardous waste from accidental spills or from chronic environmental damage. CERCLA was amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), which made important changes and additions after lessons learned from EPA’s first six years of administering the program. Authorized by Title III of SARA, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was first written to reduce the likelihood of chemical related disasters in the U.S. and increase public access to information about chemicals in their community.

USTs at Superfund sites may require special attention during cleanup, and chemicals stored onsite in tank systems may be subject to EPCRA. Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) may be compelled by EPA to perform all or portions of the work related to cleanup of hazardous wastes at a Superfund site, or EPA may conduct the response itself and recover its costs from the PRPs in a subsequent action.

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Depending on the contents of your tank systems, your facility may be subject to the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). These regulations lay out stricter facility security requirements for covered entities, many of whom may store hazardous chemicals in USTs and/or ASTs. Know whether your facility is covered by CFATS and enact proper security programs and procedures to stay in compliance. Requirements include:

  • Determination of a “high level of security risk,”
  • Security Vulnerability Assessments,
  • Risk-based tiering, Site Security Plans,
  • Risk-based performance standards, and
  • Associated inspections and audits.

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Hazard communication and HAZWOPER

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) hazard communication, or HazCom, standard (HCS) covers “any chemical which is known to be present in the workplace in such a manner that employees may be exposed under normal conditions of use or in a foreseeable emergency.” If you store chemicals in tank systems, they likely pose some sort of hazard and will be covered by HCS. Ensure that these tanks comply with all appropriate labeling requirements and that you and your employees are familiar with the chemicals’ Safety Data Sheets (SDSs).

While OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard is mainly characterized by its application at large hazardous waste cleanup operations, some portions apply to relatively small spills or releases of hazardous substances at industrial or construction sites. Know whether your facility, and specifically your tank systems and the substances that they contain, meet any HAZWOPER applicability criteria.

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Hazardous waste management

Do your tanks contain any waste (or substances that may become waste) that could pose a hazard to human health and the environment and must be managed accordingly? If so, ensure that you are in compliance with necessary hazardous waste regulations, including requirements related to:

  • Hazardous waste identification;
  • Determination of your hazardous waste generator category;
  • Proper labeling and marking (and, when ready to transport, placarding);
  • Management of central and satellite accumulation areas, including secondary containment;
  • Employee training and emergency planning;
  • Notification of EPA of waste activities and any other applicable hazardous waste recordkeeping and reporting; and
  • Any other requirements specific to your facility, the type of waste you generate, and/or your hazardous waste generator status.

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Oil pollution prevention

The Oil Pollution Prevention Standard (40 CFR 112) applies to facilities that, due to their location, can reasonably be expected to discharge oil as described in paragraph 112.1(b). Facility owners and operators should consider any man-made structures, including USTs and ASTs, that may discharge oil pollution into navigable waters in their spill prevention, control, and countermeasure (SPCC) plan.

While septic tanks and systems for collecting stormwater and wastewater are exempt from UST regulations, they may be subject to 40 CFR 112 if they contain oil.

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While we’ve noted above that septic tanks and systems for collecting stormwater and wastewater are excluded from UST regulations, you still may need to consider the impacts of stormwater discharges on your tank systems. ASTs that are situated outdoors will need to address the potential for stormwater runoff hazards to the environment through secondary containment, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting, or both, and USTs must be inspected for leaks to prevent stormwater runoff as well as groundwater contamination.

The term “stormwater discharge associated with industrial activity” means a stormwater discharge from one of 11 categories of industrial activity defined at 40 CFR 122.26 — Six of the categories are defined by SIC codes while the other five are identified through narrative descriptions of the regulated industrial activity. Many of these categories apply in industries that commonly employ tank systems in their operations.

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