To date, no study has examined whether operator training
works. So last year, I set out to answer the question. I looked
for metrics to compare states and determine a national conclusion. I settled on the EPA standard Signi;cant Operational
Compliance (SOC). Each state reports its cumulative SOC
score twice a year. It means, on average, what percentage a
state’s inspected UST sites (roughly one-third of its population) was mostly in compliance as measured over the past six
months. Think of it as a state’s compliance score card. A grade
of 88% (B+ in my book) is great, 72% is OK, 50% is bad.
MAPPING THE DATA
After reviewing all states and territories, I plotted each
state’s SOC numbers over 11 years (2008-2018), inserted the
training deadline into the graph timeline, and looked at what
happened to the SOC percentage after that (see Figure 1:
Main SOC 2008-2018). In theory, increased SOC over time
could mean operator training helped, and decreased SOC
could mean it did not.
(I’ve been explaining UST regulations professionally
since 1986. In addition, I did the nation’s ;rst state-approved
Class A/B course in Portland in 2003. In doing operator
training full time for the past 16 years, my bias is clear: I think
operator training helps.)
But it wasn’t that simple.
The data showed something different.
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Main SOC 2008-2018
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
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