PADEP Finalizes Storage Tank Amendments

November 16, 2007
Client Alert Newsletter November 2007

A final rule amending Pennsylvania's Chapter 245 storage tank regulations was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on November 10. The rulemaking represents the most comprehensive amendments to the program in a decade.

Regarding program scope, the rule expands the definition of "regulated substance" to include ethanol used for motor fuel blending, nonpetroleum oils, and gaseous as well as liquid CERCLA hazardous substances. However, the final rule omits a proposal that would have extended coverage to a list of hazardous substances maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The rule also re-regulates large (above 30,000-gallon) aboveground storage tanks ("ASTs") containing heating oil for on-site consumptive use. Registration and upgrading for existing tanks newly regulated by these changes may be phased-in over 60 days and three years, respectively.

The final rule codifies existing Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ("PADEP") tank registration procedures. Further, registration will be deemed an application for an operating permit-by-rule for certain categories of tanks; all others must obtain a general operating permit (but tanks registered before October 1997 may remain in service pending PADEP request for a permit application). In addition, the rule states that failure to register a tank or pay annual registration fees may lead to operating permit revocation. Site-specific installation permit application requirements have also been streamlined.

As for technical requirements, the rule mandates that new or replacement underground storage tanks ("USTs") have automatic line leak detectors and pump shut-off devices for pressurized systems, and (pursuant to the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005) total secondary containment of tanks and piping; replacing at least 50 percent of a UST's piping will trigger a complete piping upgrade. Existing ASTs must have overfill protection and emergency containment within three years. Inspection frequency for USTs has been increased to every three years (again consistent with federal law), while AST inspections are to be based on the API 653 calculated service life method or one-quarter of the tank corrosion rate life (to a maximum of five years).