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EPA, California Team Up on USTs

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that it, along with the California State Water Resources Control Board, has successfully cleaned up 381 underground storage tanks in that state, removing or better sealing tanks that are no longer used in order to prevent leakage that often stems from corrosion.

UST corrosion

A report released last year by the EPA showed that 83 percent of USTs studied showed corrosion.

The EPA says the USTs, which were used to store petroleum products, were cleaned up as part of an ongoing project that began in 2013. The tanks, many of which had been out of use for decades, had remained in place largely because of the high cost of cleanup. Cleanup can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $1.5 million per tank, depending on variables including how much contamination has occurred.

Corrosion in USTs

A report released last year by the EPA showed that 83 percent of USTs studied showed corrosion, but only about 25 percent of tank owners knew about the corrosion prior to the study. The agency said corrosion in USTs has increased dramatically over the past decade, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. Microbiologically influenced corrosion may be at least partly to blame.

If corrosion leads to a leak, petroleum products or other hazardous materials stored in USTs can contaminate groundwater. Groundwater is the source of 30 percent of California’s drinking water, and accounts for even more than that when drought conditions lower the water levels in the state’s reservoirs.

Help for Owners

According to a California state law, all single-walled USTs must be removed or replaced with double-walled tanks by 2025. The state offers grants and loans to assist owners in making sure they are in compliance.

The EPA says its efforts in California have included negotiating with the City of Los Angeles to lower permitting fees for a nonprofit that could not afford to remove a UST on the city property it was working to redevelop. The agency also helped the City of Fresno to remove four abandoned tanks from a site where the city hopes to see new residential and retail development soon.

For more on the EPA’s UST program, click here.


Tagged categories: Corrosion; Environmental Protection; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Microbiologically Induced Corrosion (MIC); Oil and Gas

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