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Pennsylvania to be Primary Regulator for Underground Storage Tanks

Release Date: 1/3/2003
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tentatively approved Pennsylvania’s application to regulate underground storage tanks. Previously, the EPA and the Commonwealth shared regulatory authority. But with final approval, primary responsibility will be turned over to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The tentative program approval is subject to public comment for a 30-day period.

Underground storage tank (UST) regulations are designed to protect the groundwater from petroleum products or hazardous substances – by preventing leaks and spills, and evaluating and cleaning up releases from underground storage tanks. UST regulations cover industrial and commercial service station tanks, not tanks used to store home heating fuel.

Congress intended that states assume responsibility for regulating underground storage tanks with oversight from EPA. “States are in a better position to administer the program and respond to specific state and local needs, because they are more familiar with the regulated tanks in their area.”

EPA can approve a state's UST program if the state program is no less stringent than the federal program. The state UST program must include requirements and standards for new tanks, existing tanks, leak detection, tank closure and notifications, financial responsibility and cleanup. In addition, the state program must provide adequate enforcement authority to ensure compliance. Pennsylvania’s requirements contain several provisions which are broader in scope than the federal RCRA program.

The deadline for submitting written comments on the tentative decision to approve Pennsylvania’s program and for requesting a public hearing for the purpose of giving oral testimony is February 13, 2002. A public hearing may be held at EPA’s office in Philadelphia on February 19, based on citizens’ requests. Interested parties are encouraged to submit written comments and any request for public hearing to the RCRA State Programs Branch (3WC21), US EPA Region III, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029, Carletta Parlin, Program Manager, (215) 814-3380.