Washington Report: NACS Urges UST Revisions

May 7, 2012

(Note from UST Training. Looks like there are some formal comments from National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers Association (SIGMA). It’ll be curious to see how these comments play out in the final version. Stay tuned for updates.)

NACS and SIGMA provided comments to the EPA with suggestions on how to limit the burden of proposed underground storage tank regulations.

Posted: Apr 17, 2012

WASHINGTON – NACS and SIGMA filed comments yesterday with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging specific changes to its proposed regulations affecting underground storage tanks (UST). Although NACS is supportive of some provisions, several of the proposals are onerous and unnecessary.

“An overriding concern we have is the somewhat skewed message the Agency sends to the regulated community as it relates to secondary containment. Specifically, by adding various obligations on those entities that have already invested in secondary containment and not imposing them on entities that have not installed secondary containment, EPA is effectively penalizing companies that have behaved in conformity with the Agency’s desire,” wrote NACS and SIGMA. (UST Training agrees; there should be more incentives to advance more systems into secondary containment.)

Here are more highlights from the NACS and SIGMA comments:

  • Extension of Regulated Universe: We support extending existing obligations for operator training, on-site inspections, public reporting and mandatory closure of non-compliant tanks to all tanks in the nation, including tribal lands, and not just within those states that receive federal financial support.
  • Operator Training: EPA should allow for third-party training and certification of employees and to require re-certification once every five years, not more frequently. (At UST Training, we believe that good training pays and bad training costs. Retraining only helps for those who don’t get it the first time. If the states ensure quality training is done the right, the need for re-certification should go away.)
  • Secondary Containment: We appreciate EPA’s decision to not require retrofit of any systems but objects to the seemingly punitive requirement that existing secondarily contained systems be subject to testing and inspections that new systems won’t have to undergo.
  • Walkthrough Inspections: We object to the EPA’s proposal that all facilities conduct monthly walkthrough inspections, noting that such inspections are burdensome, potentially dangerous and costly. Instead, we urge annual or biannual inspections.(UST Training partially agrees. Unfortunately the proposed rules would require a monthly opening of all sump lids; very unsafe. We do like monthly walkthrough inspections as they usually find small surprises before they turn into large problems.)
  • Spill/Overfill Prevention Inspections: We object to imposing different frequency intervals for each test (annually for spill and every three years for overfill). Instead, they should both be required once every three years, and EPA presented no data indicating that spill prevention should be inspected more frequently. (We vote for the annual inspection per PEI RP-900. Keep it simple and safe.)
  • Elimination of Ball Floats: We object to EPA’s proposal to eliminate the use of ball float valves as an overfill prevention option. EPA has underestimated the use of ball floats in the market, underestimated the costs associated with the substitute equipment and presented no evidence that ball floats are ineffective. (UST Training has believed for years that ball float valves cause overfills in certain configurations and PEI effectively bans them from new installs. Get ’em out we say.)
  • Notification Requirements: We support requiring the reporting of a change in ownership, but such reports should be filed within 60 days (not 30 as proposed) and could be filed by either the seller or buyer.
  • Alternative Fuel Compatibility: We support EPA’s approach to determining the compatibility of equipment with new fuels and suggest that the organization make it easier for retailers to determine whether their equipment meets the compatibility standards by conducting a test of UST systems that are in the market to provide a baseline for what systems are compatible with which fuels.

Further, EPA should provide tank owners with access to a searchable list of equipment installed at specific locations to help tank owners better identify what equipment is located at their facilities so they can compare it to the list of compatible systems. And EPA should ensure that manufacturers who self-certify meet a specific standard of care and communicate compatibility findings to the equipment owner in writing.

At this time, there is no date for when final regulations are to be released.

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