SOC increase. And gray and china blue states experienced a
10% or more increase in SOC.
Figure 3 depicts how SOC numbers changed after the
training. Dark blue states stayed about the same and more
turned pale blue for 1% to 9% improvements. Fewer states
made the 10% and 20% improvement or more categories.
Most discouraging, the national SOC (all states combined)
showed SOC increased only 1% since 2008. SOC nationally
climbed 7% from 2008 to 2012, inched up another 2% over the
next two years, then started to creep back down to 70% by 2018.
With the variety of implementation strategies and deadlines, drawing even soft conclusions remains dif;cult. Some
states did better than others, but as a whole, the U.S. inched
up only 1% SOC. Ouch.
Training worked in some states, according to SOC improvement over time.
Did new, stricter UST rules make it hard to comply,
therefore dropping SOC numbers regardless of trained operators? Or could other regulatory initiatives have in;uenced
Do all states record SOC numbers the same way? Might
stricter or looser reporting affect the ability to compare states?
Were enough operators trained in any given state to have
a meaningful impact?
Does or can operator training enlighten the typical operator enough to translate into a behavior change to uptick the
SOC overall? In other words, is explaining the rules enough?
Did the way training was prepared (by trainers or regulators), presented (online, live), incentivized (free, cost),
scored (no test, only test, training and test) and allowed (one
option, many) have an effect?
How does high industry staff turnover affect results?
When someone trained leaves a company, is that knowledge
passed on or does each site start from scratch?
Are operators trainable?
Can we determine what training was theoretically most
A national work group could perform a more comprehensive study. It would be great to have a catalog of ;eld-tested
Ben Thomas is a former state UST regulator
and has been training UST operators full
time nationwide since 2002. He is a regular
speaker at tank conferences. Reach him at
Figure 3: SOC Change
0 or less SOC
1% to 9% SOC
10% to 19% SOC
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
National SOC 2008-2018
SOC goes up 6% overall. After 2012, it goes down 1%.