Washington State Strengthens UST Compliance Rules

Changes the state Department of Ecology has adopted will make the program more effective by streamlining requirements and aligning the rule with state and federal laws.

Washington state has strengthened its regulations to prevent leaks from 9,000 underground storage tanks that have 3 billion gallons of fuel passing through them each year. The state Department of Ecology recently adopted changes to the rules governing its underground storage tank compliance program, which is one of the state's largest pollution prevention programs.

The department will host three educational sessions on the new rule in early August. They'll take place Aug. 7 in Spokane, Aug. 8 in Bellevue, and Aug. 9 in Lacey, Wash.

Inadequately maintained underground tanks 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 state, according to the department.

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 fewer than fifty annually, and those that do occur are much less severe.

Changes the agency has adopted will make the program 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
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