In 1984, Congress responded to the increasing threat to groundwater from leaking UST systems by adding Subtitle I to the Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA). The new subtitle required EPA to protect the environment and human health from UST releases by developing a comprehensive regulatory program for UST systems storing petroleum or certain hazardous substances. In 1988, EPA responded by promul- gating the UST regulations ( 40 CFR 280). These regulations set minimum standards for new tanks, and required owners and operators of existing tanks to upgrade, replace or close them. The 1988 regulations also set deadlines for owners and operators to meet the new requirements. The 10-year program that followed resulted in a cleaner environment, a substantially smaller number of USTs, and an unparalleled amount of equipment orders and construction work for PEI members. EPA has not significantly changed 40 CFR 280 since 1988, but Congress got back into the act in 2005, with passage of the Energy Policy Act (EPAct), which fur- ther amended Subtitle I of the SWDA. The EPAct requires states that receive federal Subtitle I money from EPA to meet certain requirements. As a result of the EPAct, EPA developed grant guidelines—not regulations—regarding operator training, inspections, delivery prohibition, secondary containment, financial responsibility for equipment manufacturers and installers,
and public record and state compliance
reports on government UST systems.
After Congress passed the EPAct, EPA
began to seriously consider revising its 1988
regulations. Key EPAct provisions (such
as secondary containment and operator
training) apply to all states receiving federal
Subtitle I money, regardless of their state
program approval status. The trouble is
that these key provisions do not apply
in Indian Country or in states and U.S.
territories that do not meet EPA’s operator
training or secondary containment grant
guidelines. In order to establish federal
UST requirements similar to the UST
secondary containment and operator
training requirements of the EPAct, EPA
decided to revise the 1988 regulations.
EPA also wanted to achieve better
release-prevention and compliance results.
Although the regulated community has
made significant progress in reducing
the number of new releases into the
environment, approximately 7,000 releases
are discovered each year (as of Fiscal Year
2009). Information on sources and causes
of releases shows that releases are less
common than they once were. However,
releases from piping and spills and overfills
associated with deliveries have emerged as
more common problems. Releases at the
dispenser also are among the leading sources
of releases. Finally, data show that release-detection equipment finds only 50 percent
of the releases it is designed to detect.
These releases are due partly to improper