Permitting Underground Storage Tanks
In 1987, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality implemented an Underground Storage Tank Program to receive federal grant money to conduct cleanups, oversee inspections and develop standards to protect human health and the environment. Underground storage tanks pose environmental risks due to contamination and leaking of fuel into the ground, which has the potential to affect drinking water. Because of this risk, The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requires business owners of service stations, convenience stores and other non-marketers to have a permit to store hazardous substances.
Currently there are approximately 75,000 underground storage tanks in Virginia which must have permits and require inspections to ensure that tanks and lines are in acceptable conditions, and that any new installations, repairs, and upgrades are completed to code. Inspections must also be conducted for underground storage tanks that are no longer needed or meet safety standards and proper closure steps were taken.
In addition to permits and inspections, underground storage tank facilities must have a spill containment plan for any spills that occur at the fill pipe, have a notification system in place for overfills, a deterioration protection for product lines and tanks, a release detection monitoring system, and a form of financial responsibility for third party exposure.
Owner/operators of UST’s have an “annual gallons pass through” that determines the amount of financial responsibility for corrective actions that will be required. The financial responsibility is determined based on a sliding scale that takes into account the gallons of fuel that passes through on an annual basis. For instance, if the “gallons that pass through” is less than 600,000 gallons, the financial responsibility required for each corrective action is $5,000 per occurrence, $15,000 for third party claims and a total occurrence of $20,000. If the annual amount of gallons passing through exceeds certain thresholds, the financial responsibility amount increases, up to a maximum of $150,000 for a third party claim.
The form of financial responsibility the owner/operator will need to have to meet the state requirement can be: a surety bond, a letter of credit, or a self-insurance trust agreement. A surety bond can be obtained based on the bond amount required.
The bond is a guarantee that the owner/operator will pay the costs for the clean-up of a release or leak and will compensate anyone that may have been harmed as a result of the leak.
Keeping the environment and human health safe is not an easy task, and the regulations and statutes put into place by the State of Virginia and the US Environmental Protection Agency are there for a reason. Owner/operators must ensure their UST’s meet the safety standards and must meet the financial responsibility requirements to protect the environment and human health. Obtaining a surety bond is as simple as applying online at SuretyGroup.com.
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