Frequently Asked Questions About UST and AST Systems

1. What Is an Underground Storage Tank (UST) System?
2. Which Underground Storage Tank Systems (UST) Are Exempt, Excluded, or Deferred From Regulation?
3. What Is an Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) System?
4. Which Aboveground Storage Tank Systems (AST) Are Exempt, Excluded, or Deferred From Regulation?
5. Are Heating Oil Tanks Regulated?
6. How Can I Tell If A Release Has Occurred?
7. How Do I Report a Release from an AST or an UST System?
8. Who Do I Call First With My AST/UST System Questions?
9. When is the deadline in South Dakota to upgrade our underground storage tanks?
10. What happens if I don't get my tanks upgraded by that date?
11. What do I do with my old tanks?
12. Can I abandon my tanks in place?
13. I just bought a property that has underground storage tanks but they haven't been used for several years. What do I need to do?

 

1. What Is an Underground Storage Tank (UST) System?

According to the Codified Law of South Dakota, Chapter 34A-2-98, an underground storage tank (UST) is defined as any tank, or a combination of tanks, that have 10 percent or more of their capacity below the surface of the ground. This definition includes the tank, all connected underground piping, any underground ancillary equipment, and the containment system. Further, this definition specifically pertains to UST systems that contain regulated substances such as petroleum, including crude oil or any fraction thereof which is liquid at standard conditions of temperature and pressure.

 

2. Which Underground Storage Tank Systems (UST) Are Exempt, Excluded, or Deferred From Regulation?

Not all underground storage tanks (USTs) systems are regulated by the state of South Dakota. For example, USTs owned and operated by registered Native Americans within reservation boundaries are regulated by the EPA through the Region VIII, Denver, Colorado, (303) 312-6788. In addition, under the Administrative Rules of South Dakota Chapter 34A-2-98, the following groups of tanks are not included in the definition of an UST:

 

  • Farm or residential tanks of 1,100 gallons or less capacity used for storing motor fuel for noncommercial purposes;
  • Tanks used for storing heating oil for consumptive use on the premises where stored;
  • Septic tanks;
  • Tank systems in pipeline facilities (including gathering lines) regulated under the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968 (49 U.S.C. App. 1671 et seq.), the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act of 1979 (49 U.S.C. App. 2001, et seq.), or in an intrastate pipeline facility regulated under State laws comparable to the provisions of law referred to in the two previous clauses;
  • Surface impoundments, pits, ponds, or lagoons;
  • Storm water or wastewater collection systems;
  • Flow-through process tanks;
  • Liquid trap or associated gathering lines directly related to oil or gas production and gathering operations; and
  • Tanks in underground areas such as basements, cellars, and mineworking drifts, shafts or tunnels, if they are located on or above the surface of the floor.

UST systems that are excluded from state UST regulations include the following:

 

  • An UST holding hazardous wastes listed or identified under Subtitle C of the Solid Waste Disposal Act, or a mixture of such hazardous waste and other regulated substances;
  • A wastewater treatment tank system that is part of a wastewater treatment facility regulated under 402 or 307b of the Clean Water Act;
  • Equipment or machinery that contains regulated substance for operational processes such as hydraulic lift tanks and electronic equipment tanks;
  • Systems with capacities of 110 gallons or less;
  • Systems that contain de minimus concentrations of regulated substances; and
  • Emergency spill or overfill containment UST system that is expeditiously emptied after use.

Applicability of some of the Federal UST regulations has been deferred for the following systems, however, releases from these systems must still undergo corrective action. Since the state rules do not define the following systems, DENR will observe the U.S. EPA regulations.

 

  • Any UST systems containing radioactive materials that are regulated under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C.2011 and following);
  • Any UST system that is part of an emergency generator system at nuclear power generation facilities regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under 10 C.F.R. Part 50, Appendix A;
  • Airport hydrant fuel distribution systems; and

USTs storing fuel solely for use by emergency power generators are deferred from only the release detection requirements. Fuel tanks supplying emergency generators must still meet the upgrade requirements for spill protection, overfill protection and cathodic protection by December 22, 1998.

 

3. What Is an Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) System?

According to the Codified Law of South Dakota, Chapter 34A-2-100, aboveground storage tank (AST) systems are defined as aboveground stationary storage tank or combination of tanks, including connected piping which stores an accumulation of regulated substances such as petroleum, including crude oil or any fraction thereof which is liquid at standard conditions of temperature and pressure. Stationary tanks are those that do not move, such as tanks fixed permanently in place on foundation, racks, cradle, or stilts, or on the ground. The term does not include tanks mounted on wheels, trolleys, skids, pallets, or rollers; vessels such as 55-gallon drums. Produced-substance storage tanks directly related to oil and gas production and gathering operations are also exempt.

 

4. Which Aboveground Storage Tank Systems (AST) Are Exempt, Excluded, or Deferred From Regulation?

The following ASTs are exempt/excluded/or deferred from regulation:

 

  • Any farm or residential tank used for storing motor fuels for noncommercial purposes;
  • Any tank used for storing heating oil or motor fuels for consumptive use on the premises where stored;
  • Any septic tank;
  • Any pipeline facility, including gathering lines, regulated under the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968;
  • Any surface impoundment, pit, pond or lagoon;
  • Any storm water or wastewater collection system;
  • Any flow-through process tank;
  • Any liquid trap or associated gathering lines directly related to oil and gas production and gathering operations;
  • Any storage tank situated in an underground area such as a basement, cellar, mineworking, drift, shaft or tunnel if the storage tank is situated upon or above the surface of the floor;
  • Any pipes connected to any tank which is exempted in this subdivision; and
  • Any tanks used for storing pesticides regulated under Chapter 38-21, except those regulated pursuant to Subtitle I of the Federal Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 (Public Law 98-616).

 

5. Are Heating Oil Tanks Regulated?

Tanks used for the storage of heating oil for consumptive use on the premises where stored are excluded from State UST/AST regulations.

 

  • "Heating oil" includes several grades of petroleum fuel oils: No. 1, No. 2, No. 4-light, No. 4-heavy, No. 5-light, No.5-heavy, No.6, Navy Special Fuel Oil, and Bunker C, plus No.2 diesel fuel and kerosene when used for heating purposes.
  • The "premises" is not limited to the building where the heating oil is stored; it includes anywhere on the same property. Thus, centralized heating units using heating oil that serve more than one building on the same property would be excluded.

6. How Can I Tell If A Release Has Occurred?

Releases from UST systems can originate from one or more of the system components (i.e., tanks, piping, and pumps), as well as from spills and overfills. Because most of the components are buried beneath the ground, you usually have to rely on methods other than sight and smell to determine if a release has occurred. Various types of release detection methods are available to indicate that your UST may be leaking and creating problems for the environment and your business. You can also minimize these problems by paying careful attention to these early warning signals, and reacting to them quickly before major problems develop. Some warning signals include:

 

  • Unusual operating conditions (such as erratic behavior of the dispensing pump). Check first to see if this problem results from equipment failure that can be repaired.
  • Results from leak detection monitoring and testing that indicate a leak. What at first appears to be a leak may be the result of faulty equipment that is part of your UST system or its leak detection. Double check this equipment carefully for failures.
  • Reports from fuel delivery drivers; or
  • Complaints from neighbors about vapors in their basements or about water that tastes or smells like petroleum.

If you suspect that a release may have occurred, you must immediately notify the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at (605) 773-3296. If your tank is located within the boundaries of an Indian Reservation and you are a registered Native American with that Indian Tribe, then you must contact the EPA Regional UST program office in Denver, Colorado at (303) 312-6788. Quick action on your part can minimize the extent of environmental damage and the threat to human health and safety, and it can minimize your share of the high costs that can result from cleaning up extensive releases and responding to third-party liability claims.

 

7. How Do I Report a Release from an AST or an UST System?

If a release from an AST or UST system is suspected, the owner or operator must report the release to the DENR within 24 hours at (605) 773-3296. If the leak occurs from tanks located within reservation boundaries contact the EPA's Regional UST program in Denver, Colorado at (303) 312-6788. Take immediate steps to stop the release and ensure that there is no threat to the safety of persons in the vicinity of the release. It is not necessary to notify DENR of aboveground overfills of petroleum that are less than 25 gallons if the release can be contained and cleaned up within 24 hours. It is also not necessary to notify the implementing agency of a spill or overfill of a hazardous substance which results in a release to the environment that is less than its reportable quantity under CERCLA if it can be contained and cleaned up within 24 hours.

 

8. Who Do I Call First With My AST/UST System Questions?

The Groundwater Quality Program, underground storage tank section, (605) 773-3296, is your primary first point of contact. You can also contact Scott Bickler in our Sioux Falls regional office, (605) 362-3500. If your tank is located within the boundaries of an Indian Reservation and you are a registered Native American with that Indian Tribe, contact the EPA Regional UST program in Denver, Colorado, (303) 312-6788.

 

9. When is the deadline in South Dakota to upgrade our underground storage tanks?

State of South Dakota has changed the upgrade deadline from November 23, 1997 to be consistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Federal deadline of December 22, 1998.

 

10. What happens if I don't get my tanks upgraded by that date?

The U.S. EPA has indicated no extension of that deadline will be given. Therefore, underground storage tank systems that do not meet the upgrade requirements will not be able to operate. If you miss the December 22, 1998, deadline you can be cited for violations and fined. Failure to be in compliance may reduce or eliminate coverage provided by insurance firms or state reimbursement fund just when you may need these financial resources.

 

11. What do I do with my old tanks?

Used or abandoned underground storage tanks may not be re-used for underground storage or used for above ground storage of a regulated substance unless they are upgraded to meet the criteria for new tanks. South Dakota DENR Waste Management Program requires proper disposal of abandoned tanks. Please call (605) 773-3153 for additional information regarding disposal.

 

12 Can I abandon my tanks in place?

Underground storage tanks may be abandoned in place if an assessment has been completed to show no underground releases have occurred. Soil samples must be obtained by a Certified Petroleum Release Assessor or Remediator and the results must be submitted to the DENR Ground Water Quality Program for review prior to abandonment. Please contact the SD Board of Engineering and Architects Examiners Board for information regarding certification requirements at (605) 394-2510. Please contact DENR for additional information regarding abandonment procedures at (605) 773-3296.

 

13. I just bought a property that has underground storage tanks but they haven't been used for several years. What do I need to do?

You have two options. You can properly abandon the tanks or you can bring tanks back into service. To bring tanks back into service, first you must determine if the tanks still need to be upgraded to be in compliance with the December 22, 1998 upgrade requirements. If the tanks will require upgrade, they must be upgraded before bringing the tanks back into service. If the tanks have already been upgraded, DENR requires a tank tightness test to be performed within 24-hours of the initial filling of the tanks. After ensuring the tanks are in good condition, on-going release detection must be performed while the tank system is in operation.

 

If you have any further questions, please contact

Doug Miller, Nayyer Syed, Terry FlorentzĀ or Justin Allen in PierreĀ at (605) 773-3296,

or Scott Bickler in Sioux Falls at (605) 362-3500 or E-mail.