Prior to the 1988 regs, businesses and the government were
unconcerned about releases unless they posed a fire threat to
people or damage to property through underground utilities,
basements, etc. Moderate inventory losses were acceptable
and, except for air quality in California, there were virtually no
environmental issues relevant to petroleum marketers.
Except for some sound technical information on corrosion
protection, available guidance in the late 1980s was generally
limited to self-serving “C-Y-A” documents.
The new regulatory requirements for insurance, testing
and redundancy resulted in closure of a majority of USTs. In
addition, numerous “dirty” sites required remediation. As a
result, tank-related activities shifted from routine construction
to environmental investigation and remediation. The cost was,
for the most part, paid for by increased taxes and license fees.
The need for better management of wet stocks became
evident when the extent of unreported releases became
5 0 | PEI.ORG | Second Quarter 2012
known. Efforts to reduce new releases included double-walled construction, containment sumps, improved
materials and cathodic protection, as well as development
of electronic gauging and monitoring.
Equipment innovations were not always initially
successful. For example, “hose-like” flexible piping created
problems that required years to sort out. Today, reliable
systems are available.
Expert: BILL WHITE Position: Branch Manager, D&H/united Petroleum & environmental Services 1987Q In 1987, I was president of White’s Pump Service and
Supply, Inc. We were very busy learning all the new
EPA rules and preparing our customers for the 10-year
implementation period. We were also removing a lot
of USTs and doing a lot of site surveys. We developed
a small drafting department to record our installation
plans and still today refer back to those records, which
are kept in our library.
In 1984, the PEI Board of Directors traveled to
Washington, D.C., to meet with Penelope Hansen of the
EPA. In that discussion, she proposed a term that I had
yet to hear in our industry: “Leak Detection.” It was all a
part of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that
had passed in that year. Our industry was not prepared
for the requirements in that amendment, but we sure got
started figuring them out fast, and developing sophisti-
cated equipment to better our environment and meet
Penelope’s comment at that meeting, “Know when you
have a leak and contain it before it does environmental
I look forward to the continued development of safe
storage and handling equipment. Our people are up to
the challenge of keeping our energy sources discovered,
refined, handled safe, managed and controlled. The
development of these new technologies will also
continue to provide JOBS and futures for the young
people of our nation.