How to Stay Compliant with Massachusetts Tank Laws - Start with a Good Storage Tank Management Program

Table of Contents

  1. Maintenance Requirements for a Typical Storage Tank Management Plan
  2. What are the components of a Tank Management Program?
  3. Underground Storage Tank Operators
  4. Tank Leak and Line Tightness Testing
  5. Cathodic Protection Testing
  6. Sump Pump-Outs
  7. Release Notification and Investigation
  8. Non-Emergency On-Call Service
  9. Emergency On-call Service
  10. Class C Operator
  11. Annual Preventative Maintenance, Testing and Calibration
  12. Record Keeping
  13. Compliance Certification

Photo of Tank Inspector Testing Storage Tank

Tank owners who have limited staff or personnel that lack the necessary training to manage their Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) have the option of hiring a subcontractor to handle it for them. Tank management programs offer a full service alternative for dealing with underground storage tank regulations and maintenance. Facility managers can minimize enforcement actions, eliminate the risk of being out of compliance or having a fuel system red tagged while ensuring all their UST operators are certified.

A tank management program provides guidance to facility managers when:

  • Conducting tank closures, removals, and new installations
  • Coordinating annual testing
  • Documenting operator training compliance
  • Notifying regulatory agencies of releases

Maintenance Requirements for a Typical Storage Tank Management Plan

Underground storage tanks have specific configurations and it’s unusual for two tanks to be installed with the same piping, monitoring equipment or overfill protection. Determining the requirements for your tank management plan requires knowledge and understanding of the Massachusetts Underground Storage Tank Regulations. The product line piping system is one area which can be difficult to determine what regulations apply. Is it a pressurized pumping system or a suction pumping system? The style of system will determine your line leak testing requirements. The table below is an example of an underground tank compliance schedule compiled by careful review of the regulations for a specific site.

Maintenance Schedule Example for Regulated USTs

Tank Capacity and Construction 2,000-gallon double walled fibreglass reinforced plastic 8,000-gallon double walled fibreglass reinforced plastic 4,000-gallon double walled coated steel in vault 20,000-gallon double walled cathodically protected steel
Tank Leak Detection Used interstitial space monitor interstitial space monitor in tank monitor interstitial space monitor
Piping System Pressurized Suction: Non-European Suction: European Suction: Non-European
Product Stored gasoline diesel diesel diesel
Equipment Supplied vehicle emergency generator boiler generator & day tank

Line Leak Detection Testing

Yes (required every year) Yes (required every year) No Yes (required every year)
Overfill Protection Testing Yes (required every year) Yes (required every year) Yes (required every year) Yes (required every year)
Tank Leak Detection Testing Yes (required every year) Yes (required every year) Yes (required every year) Yes (required every year)
Cathodic Protection Test No No No Yes (required every 3 years)
Third Party Inspection Yes (required every 3 years) Yes (required every 3 years) Yes (required every 3 years) Yes (required every 3 years)
Spill Bucket Testing Yes (required every 5 years) Yes (required every 5 years) Yes (required every 5 years) Yes (required every 5 years)
Stage I Testing Yes (required every year) No No No
Day Tank/ Controls No No No Yes (annual test recommended)
Pump Set Testing No No Yes Yes
Fuel Testing No Yes (annual test recommended) No Yes (annual test recommended)

What are the Components of a Storage Tank Management Program?

Tank management programs provide monthly visual inspections, annual preventative maintenance, testing and calibration, emergency on-call, non-emergency on-call, and replacement parts for the USTs and associated fuel system monitoring equipment. A comprehensive program also includes piping sump cleanouts, removing water from tanks, scheduled cathodic protection testing, tank and line tightness testing, and the Class C operator training. A tank management program provides an inventory of each tank’s piping configuration, and tank and piping leak detection and monitoring systems so you know which equipment requires inspection and when.

Photo of Tank Inspector Testing a Tank Level Sensor

Underground Storage Tank Operators

At the core of a tank management program is the Class B Operator. The Class B Operator will conduct the monthly visual inspections and document any part of the system that is malfunctioning and list any compliance deficiencies. Class B operators are trained to distinguish proper equipment function from obvious hardware or software failures, and have been trained in the procedures for reporting alarms, leaks, equipment failure, or other problems in compliance with 310 CMR 80.02(8).

  • Verify the shear valve is properly anchored on fuel dispensers
  • Verify the presence of pressure/vacuum vent caps
  • Inspect each spill bucket for the presence of water, or debris and remove it if present
  • Check that the fuel inventory is performed daily and reconciled monthly
  • Inspect UST sumps semi-annually and verify the sumps sensors are set below the lowest sidewall penetration
  • Fuel dispenser hoses must be inspected for tears, leaks, holes, kinks, crimps or defects
  • Check vapor recovery systems for blockage or leaks at the fuel dispenser
  • Fuel dispenser sumps and cabinets should be checked for leaking components and the presence of fuel
  • Grade level fill covers must be properly color-coded and tight fitting
  • Check for proper operation of automatic tank gauges
  • Ensure problems discovered during visual inspections are repaired or replaced with 30 days
  • Verify the product being stored is compatible with the tank system

Photo of Tank Inspector Testing Tank Tightness

Tank Leak and Line Tightness Testing

Double-wall underground storage tanks that have leak detection systems do not require testing but the leak detection system must be recertified every year. Leak detection systems can be one of the following:

  • Continuous interstitial space system
  • In-tank monitoring system
  • Continuous in-tank leak detection system
  • In-tank monitoring system with SIR
  • Testing for vapors in the soil

Automatic line leak detectors require annual testing to confirm they are operating to the manufacturer's requirements. This is a requirement for pressurized systems with an in-tank pump. Testing is important because a large leak could go undetected if the system is not functioning properly. Siphon lines and European suction systems are the exception. These systems do not require line leak detection.

Cathodic Protection Testing

Cathodic protection, in the form of sacrificial anodes or impressed current, is installed to protect underground tanks and piping. Cathodic protection applies to steel underground tanks with secondary containment systems. To ensure the corrosion protection system is functioning properly a certified corrosion tester must test steel tanks and steel secondary piping within six months of installation and every 3 years thereafter.

Photo of an underground gas tank fill pipe

Sump Pump-Outs

It is not uncommon for tank piping sumps and spill buckets in Massachusetts to accumulate water during the winter and spring seasons. An underground storage tank can collect as much as 100 gallons of water and solids during its operating life. These water and solids must be disposed of properly as hazardous waste. A tank management program can provide pump out and disposal service as needed.

Photo of UST leaking pipe on a day tank

Release Notification and Investigation

The discovery of a released substance at your facility or in the surrounding area (such as the presence of free product or vapors in soils, basements, sewer and utility lines, and nearby surface water) must be reported to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) within 72 hours. These conditions include:

  • Unexplained presence of water in an underground tank
  • Erratic behavior of product dispensing equipment
  • Sudden loss of product
  • Monitoring results from release detection equipment that indicate a release may have occurred

A Tank Management program will ensure system testing or site check of a suspected release is performed by a certified or licensed contractor/ Class B operator as required by 310 CMR 40.0300.  Further investigation is not required if the test results do not indicate a leak exists.

A failure to notify the State of a release within the timeframe required can result in a penalty. In 2011, a Deerfield company released oil without notifying the State in a timely manner and it cost them $3,000.  Another case of failure to notify was exacerbated by unauthorized remediation activities (removing contaminated soil and stockpiling) resulting in a fine of $39,000 against two companies in Plymouth.

Non-Emergency On-Call Service

These services are provided during normal working hours and typically cover components such as malfunctioning vehicle fuel dispensing equipment. Non-emergency conditions may include an observation such as water in the tank or piping system, failure of probes, but does not indicate the tank and/or piping may be leaking.

Photo of a tank monitoring system alarm

Emergency On-call Service

The operator assigned to your facility is on-call 24/7 to respond to an alarm condition on your monitoring system that indicated the tank or an exterior pipe was leaking. They would troubleshoot, replace or adjust, and perform other services necessary to diagnose and correct the alarm or potential leaking condition.

Class C Operator

The first line of response to events indicating an emergency condition is your facilities Class C Operator.  A Class C operator typically controls or monitors the dispensing or sale of petroleum. Class C operators must be trained by the Class A or B Operator to:

  • Immediately and properly respond to emergency situations posing an immediate danger to the public or to the environment or to alarms caused by leaks, spills, or releases from a UST system
  • Immediately notify a Class A or Class B operator and appropriate emergency responders
  • Have specific knowledge of the layout of the UST system(s), emergency procedures and how to respond to alarms

A Tank Management Program includes training of the Class C Operator within 10 days of their assuming responsibilities for emergencies. The Class C Operator will be retrained when emergency procedures change at a facility, the type or location of the leak detection alarm or emergency shut-off switch changes.

Photo of UST sump supply lines

Annual Preventative Maintenance, Testing and Calibration

Preventative maintenance, testing, and calibration of tank monitoring, leak detection systems, overfill alarm systems, and spill prevention equipment needs to be performed on an annual basis. The fuel storage tanks equipment must be scheduled for calibration, cleaning, lubrication, adjustments and alignment as specified by the manufacturers’ recommendations. In particular, the maintenance must include the removal of all tank monitoring probes, perform the required maintenance to ensure they are operating properly and place them back in service. Regular maintenance also includes the checking of the underground tank interstitial space for fluids. Maintenance service reports are an important part of UST record keeping and must be maintained for the remaining operating life of the underground storage system in accordance with Massachusetts 310 CMR 8036(5).

Photo of damaged tank lines

Record Keeping

EPA regulations are periodically updated and there are three new requirements in 2018 that apply to record keeping as summarized below:

  • Underground storage tanks with spill buckets, containment sumps and overfill protection devices that are double-walled and monitored by automatic tank gauges (ATG) must keep documentation showing the system is operating properly. If an ATG is not installed then you must keep records of spill bucket testing, containment sump testing, and overfill inspections for three years.
  • Facilities must keep records of walkthrough inspections for one year.
  • The owner must maintain records that demonstrate compliance with UST operator training requirements, and be able to show records of operator training dates and certifications.

Staying on top of underground tank repairs, calibrations and maintenance records can be a daunting task. With an environmental professional handling your records as part of a tank management program, you minimize the risk of a failed inspection.

Compliance Certification

A Compliance Certification is required by the MassDEP every 3 years. The purpose of the Compliance Certification is to assist with regulatory compliance and to encourage good UST system management practices. The owner/operator of the facility will evaluate and document that the UST system at your facility is being operated and maintained properly. The MassDEP website tracks your compliance status and lists the due date of our next certification. The details of the equipment at your facility can be found by logging to their UST data management system. The compliance certification asks 16  questions in four sections:

  • Operator and Facility Registration
  • Operation and Maintenance
  • Leak Detection Monitoring
  • Inspection Requirements

A compliance assistance guide is available on the MassDEP site to help you identify the compliance requirements of your specific UST system configuration as well as gather and compile all the documentation you will need.


Note to Readers

This article was prepared to assist owners and operators of Petroleum Bulk Storage (PBS) and Chemical Bulk Storage (CBS) facilities that are simultaneously subject to Massachusetts State [310 CMR 80] and to federal [40 CFR Part 280] regulatory requirements.  This article does not address requirements for aboveground storage tanks and is not intended to address every tank system encountered at a facility.