Posted by Sue Spolan on 2017-08-03
Gas station owners, you’ve got a looming deadline to make changes to your compliance methodology. Good news: since July 2015, when the EPA revised its Underground Storage Tank regulations, there have been major moves forward in gas station compliance technology.
While many of the EPA’s revisions have already taken effect, others had a more leisurely fulfillment deadline of 3 years. But now that three year mark is fast approaching. You can ease implementation through technological advances.
The 2015 regulatory changes are nothing like the 1988 updates, which infamously brought such an increase in compliance stringency that many gas stations across the country were forced to close.
For one thing, many of the new changes are superficial and bureaucratic in nature, such as “editorial and technical corrections” (a.k.a. typos), clarifications of terminology like “leak” and “release” (a.k.a. administrative details that are unlikely to affect how you run your business), or “removal of codes of practice that no longer exist” (i.e., simply bringing the regulations into the 21st century). Overall, the 2015 regulations represent a much less drastic shift and are unlikely to put gas station owners and fuel marketers out of business. And that’s excellent news for you.
So what are the changes relevant to your day to day?
Owners will need to clearly designate all of their operators into three training-level based classes (A, B, and C, with a required minimum of one operator in A and B), as well as keep documentation to this effect. These operators must be trained to an EPA mandated minimum standard and compliance problems may result in retraining requirements.
Previously UST systems that stored fuel for emergency power generators were deferred from compliance with release detection standards. However, now that more advanced technology easily allows for monitoring from remote locations, the EPA is removing this exception and requiring release detection compliance for emergency power USTs.
This is the area in which a bulk of the changes lie. The EPA is adding several test and inspection requirements including regular walkthroughs of spill prevention equipment and release detection equipment every 30 days; annual inspection of containment sumps and hand held release detection equipment; new tests for spill prevention equipment, overfill prevention equipment, and containment sumps used for piping interstitial monitoring, all to take place every three years; and a new requirement that testing of release detection equipment occur annually.
Increased regulation can be quite the headache for business owners, especially owners of small operations with fewer resources.
More frequent and detailed reporting standards mean more work and more vulnerability when it comes to compliance violations. But while these stricter standards might feel overwhelming right now, the EPA isn’t asking too much.
The EPA is keeping up with times and you should do the same. As a part of its Next Generation Compliance initiative, the EPA highlights automated monitoring systems as a key part of future compliance management.
Modern hardware and software advances turn the constant battle of keeping up with these more stringent reporting and detection standards into a very reasonable task. In short, if companies invest in automation software and hardware solutions now, compliance management will actually get easier, rather than harder, even with the changes you must make by the October 2018 deadline.