Under federal and state law, operators of certain underground storage tank (UST) systems must be trained in how to keep the USTs in compliance with applicable regulatory requirements. To become a UST Operator, employees must be trained and must pass a authorized exam that demonstrates their competence to operate these tank systems.
Here are some detailed reasons why Underground Storage Tank (UST) operator training is necessary?
Section 1524 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 states that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in coordination with states, must develop training guidelines for three distinct classes of operators who operate and maintain federally regulated UST systems.
While the Energy Policy Act was passed in 2005, the guidelines of the act were not effective until Aug. 8, 2007. Under the guidelines, a state had until Aug. 8, 2009 to develop state-specific training requirements consistent with EPA’s guidelines. All three classes of UST operators in every state with completed regulations must be trained according to the state-specific training requirements by Aug. 8, 2012.
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised the underground storage tank (UST) regulations which includes minimum training requirements for owners and operators of UST systems.
- UST Operator Training is required by federal law and is to ensure that owners and operators of underground storage tanks understand how to operate and maintain UST systems properly.
- As mandated by the EPA, all UST operators must be trained as of October 13, 2018.
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B. Environmental Impact
Leaking USTs are a grave threat to America’s groundwater. About 20 million people drink water from small drinking water systems that get rely on groundwater. Gas stations, industries and other entities use USTs to hold toxic material such as gasoline and oil that contain dangerous substances, including benzene, toluene and heavy metals that can cause cancer and harm developing children. Benzene, one of the contaminants released from LUSTs, has been classified by the USEPA and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as a known human carcinogen that causes acute myelocytic leukemia and bone marrow depression.
Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) can threaten communities as their walls corrode by silently leaking toxins into our drinking water supplies, homes and businesses. Preliminary research has found that children who live near gas stations or automobile repair shops were four times more likely to develop childhood leukemia than children who did not live near such stations establishments. Preventing a spill or release into the environment is the number one priority of an owner/operator of a underground storage tank (UST) system.
 Leaking Underground Storage Tanks and Environmental Injustice. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
 Leaking Underground Storage Tanks: A Threat to Public Health & Environment. Sierra Club, April 2005. (PDF)
Proper UST safety training is essential for the well-being of employees and customers. In order to minimize and prevent accidental leaks and spills, owners and operators must be properly trained and certified in various aspects of UST system maintenance and operations.
Likewise, employees who perform inspections without proper training run the risk of injury and accidents. Typically it is up to the owner of the UST system to provide adequate training for employees. An employee must also be also be aware of some hazards that may arise from the customer at the pump (smoking, cell phones, static electricity, filling unapproved containers, unattended fueling, etc.).
Proper management of petroleum products, equipping USTs with self-regulating technologies such as leak detectors, implementing mandatory reporting of leaks, and ultimately creating a local environmental hazard surveillance system significantly reduces the prevalence of Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUSTs).
D. Financial Impact
The economic value of a business can be negatively impacted by improper operation and monitoring of USTs. A business can be even shutdown if a UST system is found to be out of compliance or in significant violation of UST regulations.
Leaking USTs often lead to costly site assessment and remediation projects. Environmental impacts can prevent you from selling your property or obtaining a loan from the bank. The sooner a release of petroleum is detected and mitigated, the less costly the subsequent spill assessment and remediation will be and the sooner your property will be restored to full value.