Are you one of the many small business owners here in New Jersey who owns a convenience store or service station? Do you sell gasoline to the public? Then you probably have an underground storage tank regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, the vast majority of USTs in the United States hold petroleum.
The EPA regulates these tanks in order to be sure that they do not harm the environment or pose a danger to the people in the area. If at least 10 percent of the combined volume from your tank and any piping is underground, then you fall under the EPA's UST regulations.
What is the EPA's concern?
If you fail to properly install and maintain your UST, its contents could leech into the soil and then into the groundwater, which serves as a primary source of drinking water for almost half of the people in the country. Due to this possibility, the EPA now enforces numerous laws passed by Congress over the years that included provisions for regulating USTs, including the following:
- Creation of technical standards and operating requirements
- Creation of a trust fund for cleanup efforts when needed
- Respond to petroleum leaks and spills
- Inspection requirements
- Leak detection and enforcement programs
- Periodic maintenance and operation requirements
- System compatibility assurances
These are just some of the regulations and requirements the EPA enforces. As a small business with a UST, it would be useful to fully understand the laws and regulations associated with it. Otherwise, you could face significant fines, cleanup costs and other penalties. Moreover, you may also need to comply with certain state and local laws as well.
How do you know if you comply?
The only way to be sure that your UST complies with all applicable federal, state and local laws is to gain an understanding of them. This is not always an easy task. It may be worth your while to take the extra step of sitting down with an environmental law attorney to discuss the matter. He or she can explain your rights and obligations and review your plans regarding the installation, maintenance and repair of your UST.
Furthermore, if you find yourself on the wrong end of an EPA inquiry or inspection, you may need help. A legal advocate could work with you in your dealings with the EPA, state and local agencies to achieve the best outcome possible to your situation.