above-ground-storage-tank-avoidIf you’ve been thinking that your above ground storage tanks aren’t regulated, that’s not true. Just because you can see the tanks doesn’t mean you can see how well they’re doing their job. And that’s the important part, to protect your inventory and equipment but also public health and the environment in case of a spill or other emergency.

Official requirements for above ground storage tanks cover registration, monitoring, reporting and of course fees associated with these requirements. InNew York, the Hazardous Substance Bulk Storage Act is the primary law that regulates chemical bulk storage, and petroleum is separately regulated.

So for instance, if you have above ground storage tanks that hold a total of 1100 gallons or more, you’re subject to state regulations and, depending on your location, county regulations, too. The New York State Petroleum Bulk Storage Regulations have newly-increased registration fees for both underground and above ground storage tanks. Those fees are now:

  • $100 for each storage facility with capacity between 1100-2000 gallons.
  • $300 for each storage facility with capacity between 2000-5000 gallons.
  • $500 for each storage facility with capacity between 5000-40,000 gallons.

Capacity is defined as the total of a grouping of tanks, if there is more than one. These fees do not apply to oil production facilities or those regulated by the Natural Gas Act or licensed under the Navigation Act.

Owners are required to register storage facilities with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. You have to renew the registration every five years and notify DEC within 30 days if you’re planning to make any substantial modifications to your above ground storage tanks. New tanks cannot be used until they are registered.

In addition to state regulations, several counties (Cortland,Nassau,Rockland,SuffolkandWestchester) manage their own storage tank registrations and have the ability to establish additional rules. Related entities such as the New York City Fire Department are often involved in the process as well, because they require up-to-date information about chemicals, quantities and location to protect first responders in case of a fire, a spill or a natural disaster.

You must follow specific handling and storage requirements.

There is a uniform color-coding system for above ground storage tanks that you must use for shutoff valves and check valves, fill ports and gauges. This is designed to avoid accidental chemical mixtures which could cause problems ranging from inventory loss to extreme danger.

You must also establish soil berms or another type of “secondary containment” device to help protect the surrounding area if a spill occurs.

You must visually inspect your above ground storage tanks monthly. And at least every ten years, you have to clean out any tanks that are resting on grade. That means removing sludge, inspecting each tank for structural integrity and testing it for tightness.

If you take a tank out of service temporarily — at least 30 days – you must drain the product to the lowest draw-off point, then cap or plug fill lines and gauge openings. If you permanently remove tanks from service, they must be entirely emptied of sludge, liquid and vapors.

New above ground storage tanks must be constructed of steel. If they will sit on the ground, you must provide cathodic protection as well as an impermeable barrier underneath the tank. You’ll need to monitor the space between the barrier and the bottom of the tank on an ongoing basis.

It all comes down to this: as an operator you’re responsible for ensuring your above ground storage tanks meet appropriate design and performance standards. And you’re  responsible for ongoing monitoring, record keeping and reporting, providing any necessary remediation in case of a spill and taking the proper final steps when it’s time to retire a tank.