EPA tells marketers that enforcement of new underground storage tank regulations will be a top priority for the agency in 1997. Industry has until 1998 to comply with some of the stricter regulations, but a nationwide enforcement effort will begin in the spring. State and federal agencies will team up to contact operators who fail to upgrade or replace tanks to meet new compliance standards, which include spill overfill and corrosion protection. Tanks that can't be upgraded must be closed.
The EPA is also urging tank owners not to wait until 1998 to upgrade or replace USTs, citing seven reasons to upgrade early
• Acting in advance assures you won't face mandatory cleanups or potential criminal or civil suits for damage claims.
• Tank owners who wait until the last moment may have to pay a premium for services due to increased demand.
• It can take several months to upgrade, close or replace a system. Bad weather and contract delays are not unusual and local construction and regulatory permits may be necessary before work can start.
• Non-compliance in 1998 may result in reduction or elimination of insurance coverage.
• Insurance and state reimbursement funds may offer lower deductibles or premiums for early upgrades.
• Current state assistance programs that provide low-cost loans to upgrade or replace Usts may be gone by 1998.
• Those who discover leaks during upgrading or closing and need help from the state reimbursement fund, may find the fund bottlenecked with multiple claims in 1998.
Tank owners must notify regulatory authorities at least 30 days before taking a UST out of service for closure or replacement.