Underground storage tank deadlines approach

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Municipalities that own single-walled steel underground storage tanks face an important deadline next August, when Department of Environmental Protection regulations require that all such tanks either be removed or permanently closed-in-place.
The August 2017 deadline has been in effect since March 2008. Since 1998, it has been illegal under state law to install a new single-wall steel tank.
Regulations promulgated by MassDEP in January 2015 regarding underground storage tanks replaced regulations that had been promulgated by the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, which regulated underground storage tanks until 2009.
MassDEP has sent letters about the impending deadline to all single-walled steel tank owners of which the agency is aware, but it is possible that some affected municipalities may not be registered in the MassDEP’s Underground Storage Tank Data Management System, or their records may be incomplete.
Under the regulations, single-walled steel tanks may be permanently closed-in-place only if their removal poses a threat to the structural integrity of another structure, another underground storage tank, or utility pipes and lines.
Several other requirements for underground storage tanks must be met by Jan. 2, 2017. These include testing of spill buckets and sumps, decommissioning Stage II vapory recovery systems, and installing Stage I vapor recovery systems. Single-walled steel tanks that are removed or closed-in-place by Jan. 2, 2017, will not need to meet these requirements. Single-walled steel tanks that are taken “out of service” by Jan. 2, 2017, will not need to meet these and some other requirements, but will have to maintain their financial responsibility mechanism(s) until the tank is removed or closed in place.
For more information about deadlines and compliance options, visit MassDEP’s website.
MassDEP is also reminding owners of underground storage tanks to review financial responsibility requirements. Financial responsibility is important because, according to MassDEP, many underground storage tank systems have released petroleum and hazardous materials into the environment through spills, overfills, and the failure of tanks and their piping systems, which has led to contaminated soil and groundwater.
MassDEP has posted guidance online on the options for financial responsibility and the requirements for records that must be submitted to MassDEP for each financial responsibility mechanism. There are several separate mechanisms to ensure financial responsibility that are available to local governments that own and operate underground storage tank systems that are not available to private owners. Options for local governments include insurance, bonds and financial guarantees.
For more information, visit www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dep/toxics/ust/ust-frsum.pdf.
Questions about single-walled steel tanks or financial responsibility requirements can be sent to DEP.UST@state.ma.us, or call the MassDEP UST Hotline at (617) 556-1035, ext. 2.