Just how critical are underground storage tank systems (USTs)? For one, they are massive structures built underground, which, together with their connected pipings and operational facilities, is an expensive project to implement and maintain. More importantly, USTs are often built to store either petroleum or similarly-hazardous substances.

In the 1980s, USTs were commonly built using steel materials that are vulnerable to corrosion and together with very basic tank lining in the inner tank chambers, these raised concerns over the danger of leaks of harmful substances to seep underground and contaminate sources of groundwater. Coupled with improper installation and lack of operating and maintenance procedures, the USTs posed a potential threat to people’s health and the environment.

The concerns over possible UST leaks led to the setup of government regulations that evolved through the years. In collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the federal regulations covered the proper setup and operation of USTs; operators’ responsibilities in leak prevention, detection and cleanup; and the best methods to use in repair, maintenance, tank lining, among others. Through the years, these regulations, together with standards developed by independent organizations, became the set of industry codes and standards that all USTs must comply with.

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