Federal and state regulations to prevent underground storage tank oil spills

Congress responded to the problem of leaking underground oil tanks in October 1984 by amending the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which directed the EPA to develop regulations to protect human health and the environment from leaking underground storage tanks. 17 The goals of the regulations are to prevent, find, and correct problems from leaks and spills; to make sure that the owners and operators of the underground storage tanks can pay for correcting the problems created by the leaks; and to ensure that each state has a regulatory program that is as strict or stricter than the federal regulations.18

New York State's Petroleum Bulk Storage Code,19 which took effect in 1985, requires petroleum bulk storage facilities, both aboveground and underground, with a total capacity of over 1,100 gallons to be registered with DEC and re-registered every five years. Registered underground storage tanks (except those storing # 5 or # 6 fuel oil) must be tested for leaks every five years and the test results must be reported to DEC. 20 Since late 1997, DEC has undertaken an extensive enforcement effort, which has achieved a compliance rate of over ninety percent with the requirements.