Massachusetts Revises Stage I and II Vapor Recovery System Regulations

Massachusetts Revises Stage I and II Vapor Recovery System Regulations

Amendments to Massachusetts Underground Storage Tank (UST) regulations were recently announced that will affect gasoline dispensing facilities. As of January 2nd, 2015 gas stations in Massachusetts are required to remove Stage II Vapor Recovery Systems (VRS) within 2 years and phase-in the use of Stage I or Enhanced Vapor Recovery (EVR) components within 7 years.  

Why was Stage II VRS required?

The requirement for Stage II VRS was started in 1990 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because of the growing concern for ground level ozone. The EPA determined that chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) were creating ground level ozone when exposed to sunlight. Health problems such are asthma and lung disease are triggered by exposure to ground level ozone. One source of the emissions was gasoline vapors that escaped from cars during the refueling process. Stage II VRS was just one of the programs in Massachusetts designed to improve air quality.

What has changed?

Automobile manufacturers have been phasing in equipment to capture gasoline vapors in new model cars since 1998. Most cars on the road now have recovery systems called Onboard Refueling Vapor Recovery (ORVR).  With both systems in place the car and the gas pump are trying to draw vapor out of the gasoline at the same time, effectively negating the recovery process.  Since ORVR vehicles are in widespread use the EPA revised the service station requirements so that Stage II vapor recovery controls are no longer needed.

Why remove the Stage II VRS before 2017?

The cost of equipment inspections, maintenance and part replacement is significant to service stations. The EPA examined both the costs and savings to facility owners incurred in the decommissioning of Stage II vapor recovery systems, as well as changes in recurring costs. The EPA estimates that removing Stage II VRS will save each gas station around $3,000 per year. The exception to this would be small gasoline dispensing facilities. Facilities with an annual gasoline throughput of less than 500,000 gallons can file for a two-year extension.

What will replace the Stage II VRS?

Gas stations are required to phase in California Air Resources Board (CARB) or Enhanced Vapor Recovery (EVR) components as components wear out or break. The vapor recovery system must contain all EVR components within 7 years with two exceptions:

  • Gas stations can install “slip-on” spill buckets for 7 years but after that time only EVR must be used.
  • Gas stations with co-axial systems can use them until the UST is replaced. A replacement UST requires the installation of CARB EVR dual-point Stage I system or component system.

Stage II Gasoline Vapor Recovery Regulations in other NE States

The EPA has been working with each New England State as they revise local regulations aimed at phasing-out Stage II vapor recovery programs. The table below illustrates the status of the program in each New England State.

State Date Stage II No Longer Required, Stations can uninstall Date by which All Stage II Systems must be RemovedRequired by State LegislationStatus of State Regulations addressing Stage II Phase-Out
ConnecticutJune 18, 2013July 1, 2015Public Act 13-120 (PDF) (4 pp, 203 K,)Currently Revising Regulations
MassachusettsJanuary 2, 2015January 2, 2017310 CMR 7.00 and 310 CMR 7.24Currently Revising Regulations. See MA DEP Stage II webpage
Rhode IslandDec. 25, 2013Dec. 22, 2017 *RIGL 23-23-30**APCR No. 11 (PDF) (39 pp, 184 K,)
MaineJan. 1, 2012Jan. 1, 2013Public Law, 123rd Legislature, Second Regular Session, Chapter 559 (PDF) (1 pg, 7 K,)Chapter 118 (14 pp, 131 K, Word)
New HampshireNov. 17, 2012Dec. 22, 2015N/AEnv-Or 500 (PDF) (45 pp, 263 K,)
VermontJan. 1, 2013Jan. 1, 2015Title 10 V.S.A. §583VT legislation repealed, effective Jan 1, 2013, all rules pertaining to Stage II vapor recovery.

*: Rhode Island allows stations to keep Stage II vapor recovery systems as long as they are modified to not have any incompatibility issues with motor vehicle ORVR systems.
**: RIGL 23-23-30 applies to new and substantially modified stations only between June 14, 2012 and December 25, 2013, the effective date of the amended regulation APCR No. 11.

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