Environmental Law

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New Requirements for Emergency Generator Systems and Other USTs

August 26, 2015

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On July 15, 2015, the US EPA adopted new requirements for underground storage tanks (“USTs”) containing petroleum and hazardous substances. Among the most significant new requirements are those affecting emergency generator systems and airport hydrant fueling distribution systems. These tanks were deferred from certain regulatory requirements under the first UST rules promulgated by US EPA in 1988. They are now subject to new federal requirements. 

The new rules are effective October 13, 2015. Certain requirements for existing tanks are phased in over a three-year period; however, all USTs installed on or after April 11, 2016 must comply with the new federal requirements..

In states without US EPA approval of their state program, including California, owners and operators must comply with state law and the new federal requirements. According to the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) some new requirements – including those applicable to emergency generator systems and airport hydrant fueling systems – are more stringent than California law.  

The more stringent requirements identified by the State Board applicable to  emergency generator systems include the following:

  • Emergency generator tanks systems installed after October 13, 2015 must meet all federal requirements applicable at the time of installation. 
  • By April 11, 2016, tank systems installed on or before April 11, 2016 (except those with safe suction piping) must upgrade to double-walled piping with interstitial monitoring when 50% or more of a single-walled piping run is removed. 
  • Emergency generator tanks installed after April 11, 2016 must have secondary containment and meet release detection requirements by using interstitial monitoring. 
  • As of October 13, 2018, emergency generator tanks installed on or before October 13, 2015 must meet the federal release detection requirements.

The more stringent requirements applicable to airport hydrant fuel distribution systems include the following:

  • By October 13, 2015, these systems must meet federal release reporting requirements.
  • By October 13, 2018, they must meet the federal release detection requirements.
  • After October 13, 2018, airport fuel distribution systems are subject to a one-time notification requirement to the implementing agency, at which time financial responsibility must be demonstrated.
  • By October 13, 2018, owner and operators must conduct inspections of hydrant pits for visual damage, leaks, and liquid or debris – and inspect for leaking pipes.

The new federal requirements also address a variety of other issues applicable to all USTs, including increased requirements for training, maintenance, and inspections. The new rule also includes specific requirements applicable to tanks that only use liners for corrosion protection or use flow restrictors for overfill protection. 

The State Board has indicated it will be providing direction on how to comply with the new requirements in the near future. Meanwhile, anyone contemplating the purchase or installation of a new UST or UST system – particularly for emergency generator systems or airport hydrant fueling distribution systems – should be aware certain requirements are effective immediately and plan accordingly.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Van Zandt

415-995-5001 Direct Phone
415-995-3566 Fax

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