State improves regulations to prevent leaks from underground tanks

OLYMPIA – Washington has strengthened its regulations to prevent leaks from the 9,000 underground storage tanks that have 3 billion gallons of fuel pass through them each year.

The state Department of Ecology adopted changes to the rules governing its underground storage tank compliance program. The program is one of the state’s largest pollution prevention programs.

If underground tanks aren’t properly maintained, they can leak, potentially polluting drinking water and posing serious threats to human health and the environment. Old, leaking underground storage tanks account for about half of all known contaminated sites in Washington.

Ecology regulates about 9,000 tanks at more than 3,300 facilities, including gas stations, industrial and commercial properties, and government-owned properties. The program has significantly reduced the number of releases — from several hundred to less than fifty each year. And, those that do occur are much less severe.

Changes the agency adopted will make the program even more effective by streamlining requirements and aligning the rule with state and federal laws. Changes to the rule include:

· Incorporating federal rule changes needed to maintain federal approval of the program (such as new operation and maintenance requirements).

· Integrating changes made in the state statute that authorizes the program.

· Updating other requirements governing the program (such as service provider requirements).

· Streamlining rule requirements, improving rule clarity, and improving consistency within the rule and with other state and federal laws and rules.

Ecology will hold educational sessions on the new rule Aug. 7 – 9. For a complete listing of educational session details and changes to the rule, visit Ecology’s rulemaking webpage. For more information about the compliance program, visit the underground storage tank webpage.

The educational sessions will be held in Spokane, Bellevue and Lacey. The Lacey session includes a  webinar.  

 

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