Deadline for Owners of Single Wall Steel Tanks Looming

by Joseph S. Campisi, President, Corporate Environmental Advisors, Inc.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (“MassDEP”) promulgated underground storage tank (UST) regulations on January 2, 2015 that replaced the Massachusetts Department of Fire Service (“DFS”) regulations at 527 CMR 9.00. These new regulations (310 CMR 80.15) require that all single-walled steel (“SWS”) tanks must be removed or permanently closed-in-place by August 7, 2017. This requirement was carried over from the DFS regulation at 527 CMR 9.05(G)(10), and has been in effect since March 21, 2008. This new regulation impacts over 300 UST owners or operators in Massachusetts.

MassDEP’s UST Regulation allows tanks to be permanently closed-in-place only if they cannot be removed from the ground without removing a building, or the removal would endanger the structural integrity of another UST, structure, underground piping or underground utilities. In addition, the following requirements must be completed by UST systems owners by January 2, 2017:

  • All spill buckets have to be tested and, if necessary, repaired or replaced in accordance with 310 CMR 80.21(1)(a) and 28(2)(g);
  • All turbine, intermediate and dispenser sumps have to be tested and, if necessary, repaired in accordance with 310 CMR 80.27(7) and (8);
  • All Stage II vapor recovery systems have to be decommissioned in accordance with 310 CMR 7.24(6)(l), if applicable; and
  • New Stage I vapor recovery requirements have to be met in accordance with 310 CMR 7.26(3)(b), if applicable.

These new regulations are intended to remove these SWS USTs from service because they have a higher likelihood of leaking and releasing petroleum products into the environment.

If the Owner intends to remove or permanently close the SWS UST in place before January 2, 2017, the owner will not need to comply with requirements for testing spill buckets and sumps (and repairing or replacing them if they do not pass the tests). If a SWS tank supports a Stage II system that has not yet been decommissioned, the Stage II system can be decommissioned when the tank is removed, and there would be no need to implement Stage I requirements for the SWS tank. The following types of tanks are exempt from this requirement: consumptive use tanks, tanks relined prior to August 8, 2007 in accordance with applicable requirements, and “wrapped” tanks (fiberglass, carbon fiber or plastic compounds).

MassDEP has established three alternatives in which SWS UST owners can meet the removal/permanent closure-in-place requirement for a SWS tank:

  1. Pass the tests required for spill buckets and sumps by January 2, 2017 and remove or close-in-place your SWS USTs by August 7, 2017.
  2. Take your SWS tanks “Temporarily Out-of-Service” (“TOS”) in accordance with 310 CMR 80.42 by January 2, 2017, and permanently close in place or remove the tank(s) by August 7, 2017. If you take your SWS tanks TOS before January 2, 2017, MassDEP will not require you to:
  • Test the spill buckets or sumps that support the UST system,
  • Operate and maintain cathodic protection,
  • Perform third-party inspections, or
  • Submit compliance certifications.
  1. Pass the requirements for spill bucket and sump testing by January 2, 2017, take the tanks TOS by August 7, 2017, notify MassDEP that you have done that before August 7, 2017, and remove or permanently close-in-place the tank(s) by a specific date, but no later than July 1, 2018.

With the notification of taking the tank TOS, the Owner or Operator would submit a signed contract to MassDEP specifying the date on which the tank would be removed or closed-in-place. If your tank supports a Stage II system, that system would be decommissioned when the tank is removed; the January 2, 2017 deadline for this action would be waived.

There are a number of provisions that the UST owners must keep in mind:

  • The owner must maintain Financial Responsibility (310 CMR 80.51 et. seq.) for the SWS tank until it is removed or closed-in-place.
  • If you take your SWS tanks TOS, these tanks will not be allowed to be brought back into service.
  • If the SWS tanks support a Stage II system, the Stage II system must be decommissioned when the SWS tanks are permanently closed or removed (if the Stage II system has not been decommissioned by that time).
  • If installing a new UST or above-ground storage tank (“AST”) to replace the SWS tank, the new Stage I requirements must be implemented when the new UST or AST is installed.

SWS UST owners are encouraged to make arrangements to remove these tanks, permanently close them in place, or meet the testing and Stage II decommissioning requirements described above as soon as possible. As the above noted deadlines get closer, it may be difficult to find an available contractor, as their services will be in high demand.

About Corporate Environmental Advisors, Inc.

CEA is a full-service environmental management firm headquartered in West Boylston, Massachusetts with offices throughout the Northeast. CEA has over 25 years of experience in environmental consulting and contracting, health and safety compliance, remediation, 24-hour emergency response, and field services. CEA is also a certified and qualified vendor by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. CEA’s experts include Professional Engineers, Licensed Site Professionals, Certified Professional Geologists, Risk Assessors, Compliance Specialists, and environmental engineers and scientists. To learn more about CEA, visit their website at and stay tuned to “On Solid Ground” for news, analysis and commentary on environmental matters from CEA’s talented professionals.
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