Storage Tank

Storage Tank in the United States

Storage Tank in Environmental Law

A container used to store liquid or gaseous jmmbi material. Storage tanks are either aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) or underground storage tanks (USTs). An underground tank is one with 10 percent or more of its volume below ground. The definition does not include storage tanks in basements, however, if the tank rests on the floor and not in the ground.

Underground storage tanks are regulated under federal law unless they fall within an exception. The states also regulate underground storage tanks, and state laws are often more stringent than the federal requirements. The federal law that applies is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Most underground storage tanks contain a petroleum product, such as gasoline, diesel, oil, or other fuel.

Underground storage tanks were targeted for regulation because a release can occur under the surface of the earth and be undetected for a long time, causing much damage. Older tanks (those installed before 1984) were often made of steel, and they tend to develop holes from corrosion. After the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was amended by the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments in 1984, it required registration of underground storage tanks, reports of releases, upgrades of the tanks to make them safer, new standards for new tanks, closure procedures, and financial responsibility for cleanups. All existing underground storage tanks must be upgraded by 1998 or taken out of service.

Aboveground storage tanks have not been heavily regulated by the federal government. The federal law that applies to some aboveground tanks is the Clean Water Act, which may require the development of a spill prevention control and countermeasures plan. If they do not store hazardous wastes, they fall primarily under state and local jurisdictions. Some states regulate aboveground storage tanks similarly to underground storage tanks; others use fire codes to deal with them.

The reasons for a lessened standard for aboveground storage tanks are simple: a release is easier to see, and the tanks do not corrode as quickly if they are not buried. However, large aboveground storage tanks can cause significant environmental problems if a release occurs. As a result, states are becoming more particular about them, and an effort to regulate them under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act has been pending in Congress for several terms.

To lessen the possibility of damage from underground and large aboveground storage tanks, the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act impose requirements on owners or operators of certain tanks. Facilities with tanks of specific sizes must have a spill prevention control and countermeasures plan if a release from them would cause damage to surface waters. These plans are largely preventive but also contain provisions for responding to a spill.
Based on “Environment and the Law. A Dictionary”.

Storage Tank: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Storage Tank. This part provides references, in relation to Storage Tank, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Storage Tank by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Storage Tank and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Storage Tank or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Storage Tank and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Storage Tank. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Storage Tank should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Storage Tank when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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