Does UST Operator Training Help?

October 19, 2018

That’s the question that Ben Thomas of UST Training attempted to answer at a two-hour workshop September 10 at the National Tanks Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Ben has been in the UST industry since 1986 and has been training UST operators throughout the US since 2003. Based on personal experience since then he believes, anecdotally, that things are getting better. But is there a way to prove it? Ben set out to find out.

Based on research done in 2018, Ben presented graphs of compliance rates for all states from 2008 to 2018, using data compiled by the US EPA. Each state submits data every 6 months to the EPA. The graphs showed what percentage of tanks are in what’s termed Significant Operational Compliance or SOC for short. If, say, 75% of all tanks inspected  within that time frame were in SOC, then the score would be a 75%, or a solid grade of “C”.

When reviewing each state’s SOC numbers, Ben inserted the training deadline to the timeline and asked the audience to observe what happened in time afterwards. Did compliance rates go up (improved?), stay the same (no effect?) or go down (what the heck happened?)

For each state, the audience got to vote: Here’s what they said, using a simple majority show of hands.

Group said Yes: operator training is or may be making a difference in these states  >>
ME, VT, NH, DC, DE, MD, VA, WV, KY, IL, IN, MN, AR, LA, NM, OK, TX, MO, NE, CO, ND, SD, UT, WY, NV, GU, AK, ID, OR, WA (29 states/territories or 55%)
Group said No: operator training did not help in these states  >>
RI, PA, AL, FL (4 states or 8%)
Group said Don’t know about these states  >>
MA, PR, VI, GA, NC, TN, OH, WI, IA, MT, HI, CNMI (12 states/territories or 17%)
Group said Too Soon to Tell in these states  >> NJ and AZ (2 states or 4%)
No one voted for these states >>
MS, SC, MO (3 states or 6%)

So in the end, the majority of the audience felt that based on the charts, operator training is probably showing success but it is very state dependent.

Ben is still doing research to determine if there are other or better ways to measure the impact of UST operator training. What’s your idea? Send it to


See all: News

Related: / /


  1. Scott Hafer says:

    Does UST Operator Training Help? Based on the topic of SOC, In my opinion in PA, probably a little.
    Based on the topic of fueling system safety – Most definitely a YES.
    Based on the topic of storage tank system operations and knowledge – Most definitely a YES.
    I also teach the Operator training and I really stress the overall topics within the scope of the training; Compliance, Fueling system Safety, UST knowledge and we review each clients most recent FOI. Understanding the information within FOI document is the key for the tank owner or tank operator. Also we provide a how to properly operate the ATG as a two pronged tool. Operations and Compliance

    1. Ben Thomas says:

      Hi Scott. Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Agreed that there’s more to cover than just the basic UST rules. We got to great length with our training too to ensure folks know what kind of UST system and equipment they have. Howdy to the Keystone State: my folks are both from York.