Underground Storage Tanks in Idaho
Underground storage tanks (USTs) store petroleum products or certain other hazardous liquids that can harm the environment and human health if the contents are released into the environment. USTs are subject to federal regulations. Idaho has about 3,500 regulated USTs; there are about 680,000 nationwide.
What is an Underground Storage Tank?
While many types of storage tanks may be buried, the term underground storage tank refers specifically to certain types of tanks that are federally regulated. These tanks are those in which 10% of their contents are underground and store either petroleum products (e.g., gasoline, diesel, kerosene, or jet fuel) or certain hazardous substances. The underground piping connected to the tanks is also considered part of the UST system.
Certain types of tanks are specifically exempt from federal UST regulations:
- Small tanks with capacities of 110 gallons or less
- Farm and residential tanks with capacities of 1,100 gallons or less of motor fuel used for noncommercial purposes
- Tanks storing heating oil for on-site consumption
- Tanks on or above the floor of underground areas, such as basements
- Septic tanks and systems for collecting stormwater and wastewater
- Emergency spill and overfill tanks
Regulation of Underground Storage Tanks
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated the 1988 Underground Storage Tank Regulations, effective October 13, 2015. These new regulations require compliance with the following:
- Walkthrough Inspections
- Spill Bucket Testing
- Overfill Prevention Testing
- Containment Sump Testing
- Release Detection Equipment Testing
- Operator Training
- Emergency Generator Leak Detection
- Ownership Change Notification
- Fuel Compatibility
- Phase-Out Ball Floats
- UST System Repairs
- Airport Hydrant and Field-Constructed USTs
For more information about the revised regulations, see the following:
- New Federal Underground Petroleum Storage Tank Regulations
- 2015 Revised Underground Storage Tank Regulations - Summary and complete text of the regulations
- Musts for USTs
In February 2007, the Idaho Legislature passed the Idaho Underground Storage Tank Act (Idaho Code §39-88), which authorized DEQ to establish a UST program. DEQ subsequently conducted negotiated rulemaking to develop Idaho's rules to regulate USTs. The Rules Regulating Underground Storage Tank Systems (IDAPA 58.01.07) took effect on April 2, 2008. The rules contain the following sections:
- Federal Technical Standards and Corrective Action Requirements for Owners and Operators of Underground Storage Tanks, 40 CFR Part 280
- Additional Measures to Protect Ground Water from Contamination
- Release Reporting Requirements
- Training Requirements
- Delivery Prohibition
- Maintenance of the Petroleum UST Database
Learn if Your Property Contains an UST
If you own or plan to buy or sell property that you suspect may contain a UST (even one that is no longer in use), it is important to find out if a UST exists or existed on the property. The question of possible contamination from a leaking UST (past or present) will likely come up in any transaction involving property that has or had a UST. Any past or newly discovered contamination must be disclosed to any potential buyer and reported to DEQ to determine if remedial action is required.
A visit to the property may uncover evidence of abandoned USTs. In many cases, there may be no aboveground indicators of the presence of a UST belowground. While certain property types are more likely than others to house USTs, any property could contain a UST. USTs are routinely found in unusual places. USTs are commonly found at gasoline stations, convenience stores, bus terminals, railroad yards, airfields, and auto dealerships. USTs have also been found at schools, auto repair shops, farms, homes, factories, and retail facilities.
DEQ maintains a database of active and closed UST sites across the state. Regardless of whether DEQ has a record of a UST on a property of interest, you may wish to investigate as a normal course of due diligence. If you are considering buying or selling a property, you may wish to hire a contractor to conduct an environmental site assessment. Lenders often require site assessments before loaning on certain types of properties.