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MA Bill Seeks Tank Inspection Change

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

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Paint companies could see fewer storage tank inspections and related fees in Massachusetts under a bill seeking to amend annual inspection laws, said the American Coatings Association.

ACA and its Massachusetts Paint Council (MPC) have been pursuing passage of Massachusetts House Bill 699, "An Act Relative to Certain Tanks Used for the Storage of Fluids," which would relieve the "burden" of storage tank inspections on local paint companies that are currently subject to annual fire marshal inspections and fees.

ACA storage tanks
Photos: EPA

ACA says that an amendment to a Massachusetts bill would relieve the burden of storage tank inspections on local paint companies.

The state's current hazardous materials storage tank regulations require permits and inspections for "what would normally be deemed nonhazardous materials (i.e., latex paint)," according to ACA.

ACA and MPC have been working for several years on legislation that would amend the state's regulations. The proposed bill maintains the provision authorizing annual inspections, but adds language that allows inspections to be conducted at intervals decided by the fire marshal.

According to ACA, "This would reduce the burden on both paint manufacturers and the Fire Marshal."

Current Law, Past Support

Current law mandates that all above-ground storage tanks exceeding 10,000 gallons require annual inspections by the fire marshal if the tank contains a fluid other than water. The inspection is required regardless of the contents of the tank or level of potential harm the tanks may pose.

The proposed amendment grants the fire marshal the discretion to limit the permitting requirements and inspection frequency for tanks determined to be less of a concern based on the tank's size, contents, and containment systems. 

ACA said that the bill received support in the past from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and the State Fire Marshal. The bill has passed both the House and Senate in prior years, but has never been fully enacted.

The bill was the subject of a hearing March 27 of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

EPA storage tanks

Currently, the fire marshal is required to inspect all tanks with a capacity over 10,000 gallons, even if the tank's contents are non-hazardous materials.

During the 2012 legislative session, the bill (S2166) was voted favorably out of the House Ways and Means Committee, but it did not progress further.

According to ACA, there were some concerns from the fire marshall's office a couple years ago, so the bill was not signed by the governor. Since then, those concerns have been addressed, but competing priorities have kept the bill from making it through the legislator, an ACA spokesperson said in an email on Monday, April 8.

While there may be other state programs, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does require under the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan (SPCC) Program bulk storage container inspections and testing depending on the material, container size, configuration, and design, so it’s likely there is overlap with the EPA SPCC program, ACA said.

Amended Text Sought

The amendment seeks to replace a paragraph of the current bill text in Section 37 of Chapter 148 of the General Laws with an amendment that allows the fire marshal to "establish rules and regulations providing for an inspection of tanks or containers on an annual basis or at such other frequency as determined by the marshal."

The amended text states that the marshal can determine inspection frequency based on factors such as:

  • Tank size;
  • Type of construction;
  • Tank contents;
  • Potential safety hazards; and
  • Tank safety and containment systems.

Tank inspection fees would be determined annually by the commissioner of administration, and regulations would require owners and operators to "maintain the tanks or containers and to keep records of inspections, repairs and maintenance for each tank or container in a form as prescribed by the marshal."

Additionally, the marshal would be able to establish or adopt inspection standards for tanks and containers and qualifications for authorized persons to conduct inpsections.

The marshal would be able to also, "at any time during reasonable business hours," inspect tanks or containers, dikes, facilities, equipment and records to determine compliance.

The current paragraph that the amendment seeks to replace states that tanks with a capacity of over 10,000 gallons that are used to store any fluid other than water must be inspected annually, and the owner or user of the tank and local fire department must be notified of the intended inspection "not less than fourteen days prior to the inspection date."

The amendment does not seek to change the first paragraph, which states that such tanks cannot be constructed without a permit from the marshal, who may also revoke the permit. Violations of the regulation are punishable by fines of $50 to $1,000.

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. John V. Fernandes, D-Milford, and co-sponsored by state Rep. Daniel B. Winslow, R-Norfolk. A call to Fernandes' office was not immediately returned on Monday, April 8; an aide for Winslow's office could not immediately provide more information on the status of the bill.

ACA's Paint Councils

ACA's Paint Councils are grassroots organizations that represent the association in its efforts "to promote the interests of the paint and coatings industry at the state level."

Paint Council membership and participation is available to ACA corporate members only, since membership dues supports the paint councils.

Active state councils include California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Companies participating in Massachusetts' Paint Council include: Dampney Company Inc.; Randolph Products Company; Benjamin Moore & Co.; The Valspar Corporation; Camger Coatings Systems Inc.; California Products Corporation; DSM Coatings Resins; Monson Companies Inc.; and Myriant Corporation.


Tagged categories: American Coatings Association (ACA); Coating inspection; hazardous materials; Laws and litigation; Tank exteriors; Tank interiors; Tanks

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