New MassDEP rules replace Department of Fire Safety Regulations

New MassDEP rules replace Department of Fire Safety Regulations

 On January 1, 2015 the State Fire Marshall and the commissioner from the Department of Environment Protection made a joint announcement that Fire Codes 527 CMR 9.00 would be replaced with new Underground Storage Tank (UST) regulations in MassDEP 310 CMR 80. Permitting and licenses will remain under the jurisdiction of the local fire departments. The MassDEP has been administering the UST program under the Department of Fire Safety (DFS) codes since 2009 while developing their own code to align with MassDEP environmental codes. The key changes to the underground storage tank program effected system upgrades, tank installations, inspections and testing, compliance certification and Third-party inspections.  

System Upgrades

The system upgrade changes include:

  • 3-gallon spill buckets must be upgraded to 5-gallon spill buckets when replacing this UST component after January 2, 2015.
  • Submersible pumps must be installed in containment sumps by January 1, 2019
  • Ball float valves must be phased out as the primary overfill protection
  • Automatic line leak detectors for pressurized piping by January 2, 2016.
  • Regulated single-walled steel tanks must be removed or closed in-place by August 7, 2017.

Tank Installations

Underground tank installation requirements, previously considered good industry practice, are now mandatory. All newly installed UST systems must have drawings or plans created by the installer or professional engineer (PE). Once the UST is installed, the PE or installer must inspect the system to verify it was installed properly.  Spill buckets must be tested using a vacuum test similar to tank tightness testing, and sumps must be hydrostatically tested at the time of installation. It is required that All UST systems be registered within 30 days of first use, and that any changes to the regulated product (i.e., gasoline to diesel) require updated registration.

Underground tank installation at a gas station in Massachusetts

Inspections and Testing

Monthly underground tank inspections under the MassDEP code were simplified as compared to the Department of Fire Safety requirements. The DFS regulations in 527 CMR 09.07(S)(2) specified twelve items to inspect and document but the MassDEP code has reduced it to minimum of the following three:

  • Verify that the electronic monitoring equipment is currently on and operating properly
  • Inspect each spill bucket; Check for solid or liquids, corrosion or damage, and check sensors if applicable
  • Verify that grade level fill covers are color-coded according to the fuel that is stored in the tank.

Failed tank inspections and tests are handled differently under the new regulations. If a leak detection alarm is triggered, or a monthly automatic tank gauge test fails, there are time sensitive steps to follow while handling these conditions. The owner has 72 hours to determine if there is an actual leak. If he or she is unable to find the source of the alarm, then a tank tightness test must be performed. A failed tank tightness test requires emptying the tank and repairing it within 72 hours. An underground tank that was repaired after failing a tank tightness test would have to pass another test and be re-certified or re-warrantied by the manufacturer.  If the owner discovers that his UST system requires repair during the monthly visual tank inspection, the repair must be done within 30 days, or the MassDEP requires the owner to take the UST temporarily out-of-service.

Testing underground jet fuel storage tanks in Worcester, Massachusetts

Daily Inventory Requirement

The daily inventory requirement is no longer mandatory for double-walled tanks that are equipped with continuous leak monitoring. 

Compliance Certification

There is a new compliance certification in 310 CMR 80.34 which requires the Owner or Operator to show their underground storage tank is meeting all the requirements of a regulated tank. Here are some important points:

  • Submitted by the Owner or Operator every 3 years (this is due 18 months after third-party underground tank inspection or the facility compliance date, whichever is earlier)
  • The Owner or Operator must certify compliance with the underground tank regulations by providing the following records; registration, emergency procedures, financial responsibility, system testing, operator certification, repair and equipment installation records, monthly tank inspections and cathodic protection test results as applicable.
  • If a UST system is out of compliance there is a Return to Compliance (RTC) plan that must be submitted along with the date that compliance will be achieved.

Temporarily Out-of-Service

New rules determine how an owner can take an underground tank out-of-service. Underground storage tanks can be taken temporarily out-of-service for up to 5 years compared to the previous limit of 2 years in the DFS regulations. A UST system must be taken temporarily out -of-service if all regulated product is removed.  Unless specified by a local fire department, a permit is not required.

The new requirements for placing a tank in a temporarily out-of-service status are

  • The tank must be entered and cleaned.
  • Each port must be secured.
  • Steel tanks must comply with cathodic protection requirements.
  • All tanks require third party inspections.  
  • UST system inspection and testing requirements must be met.  

The MassDEP requires notification of temporary out-of-service status changes within 30 days and underground storage tanks cannot be brought back into service without passing a tank tightness test.

Technician preparing to enter an underground tank for cleaning.

Financial Responsibility 

The Financial Responsibility section of the law also underwent changes; the scope was expanded to include underground tanks used to store hazardous substances. Owners must demonstrate financial responsibility for taking corrective action in the case of an accidental release.  In the case of a UST system that averages more than 10,000 gallons throughput, the per-incident amount would be $1 million, and $500,000 all other tanks. For specific mechanism and requirements refer to 310 CMR 80.52-54. Reporting requirements were also added for owners and operators that use the financial test or corporate guarantee.

Record Keeping

The MassDEP requires the owner or operator to retain equipment repair and installation information until the UST system is removed or permanently closed.  Additional documents including a copy of the most recent registration, third-party inspection, list of current operators, compliance with temporary out-of-service status, and records of permanent closures, must be kept for the life of the underground tank. Records of testing, inspections, water removal, changes in product, and other day to day operational records should be kept for 4 years.

Third-party Inspections

The Department of Fire Safety requirement mandating third-party inspections of every regulated UST system continues unchanged from the August 8, 2007 implementation. Every UST system must be inspected every 3 years by a certified inspector to verify operational compliance. The third-party regulation updates implemented by the MassDEP include UST registration information and additional record-keeping.

The third-party inspection also features a Return-to-Compliance component that addresses failed underground tank inspections and the steps required to bring the UST back in compliance. Records of third-party inspections must be submitted by the Owner or Operator to the MassDEP no later than 60 days from the date of the tank inspection.

For more information about underground storage tank regulations, third party inspections and tank testing contact one of our tank experts at 1-800-628-8260.

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