The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release June 30 describing funds it is sending to the Oklahoma Corporation Conservation Commission—$459,000 to respond to petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks (UST) and $809,000 to clean up petroleum leaks.
The EPA recently strengthened the federal UST requirements to improve prevention and detection of petroleum releases from USTs, one of the leading sources of groundwater contamination. The action also strengthened existing requirements to help ensure USTs in the U.S. meet the same release protection standards, according to the press release.
The docket for the UST regulation is EPA-HQ-UST-2011-0301 and can be accessed when the final regulation is published.
The release noted that leaks from underground storage tanks allow toxic fumes and vapors to escape and collect in areas such as parking garages or basements where they can cause explosions or respiratory illness. Toxic contaminants can also leak into groundwater sources that provide drinking water. Regularly monitoring tanks and pipes minimizes contamination risks.
USTs contain petroleum products such as diesel fuel, gasoline, and kerosene. Some USTs are used to store hazardous substances. The press release said that the greatest potential hazard from a leaking UST is that these contaminants can seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater, the source of drinking water for nearly half of all Americans.
The EPA regularly works with state, local, and tribal governments to ensure that UST systems are installed, operated, maintained, and closed safely. The EPA’s UST grants help provide technical assistance, outreach, training, inspections, enforcement, and remediation.