First Quarter 2006

Maryland’s New Rules for Underground Storage Tanks

Holland & Knight Newsletter
Amy L. Edwards

Effective January 6, 2006, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) will enforce new rules for gasoline underground storage tank (UST) systems in “high risk groundwater use areas.” See COMAR 26.10.02. According to the MDE, the new rules in designated “high risk areas” will address the growing concern over contamination of water supply wells from petroleum products. The new rules published in the January 6, 2006, Maryland Register made permanent existing temporary rules that required owners and operators of existing gasoline USTs to install groundwater monitoring wells, to helium pressure test all pipes for vapor leaks, and to test secondary areas such as spill catchment basins (spill buckets) and containment sumps. See 33:1 Md. Reg. 37 (January 6, 2006). MDE also adopted rules requiring secondary piping in new and upgraded UST systems and additional leak protection equipment for all regulated UST systems statewide.

New rules for gasoline UST systems apply in “high risk groundwater use areas,” defined as all areas served by individual water supply systems (wells) in the following counties: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Calvert, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George. See COMAR The owner of a gasoline UST system in a high risk groundwater use area must either demonstrate to MDE that the system is not a threat to groundwater or adopt measures to prevent groundwater contamination.

To demonstrate that the system does not pose a threat, the owner must survey groundwater use within a half-mile radius of the UST system and report that survey to the MDE, along with a detailed description of the UST system and existing release detection methods. See COMAR If the MDE reviews the survey and finds that the system does pose a threat, or if the owner does not submit survey information, the owner must take further steps to prevent groundwater contamination. The new regulations require different measures for “new” UST systems versus “existing” UST systems. A system is “new” if it was installed after January 26, 2005. A system is “existing” if it was installed before January 26, 2005, has a storage capacity of more than 2,000 gallons, and is equipped with Stage II vapor recovery. See COMAR and (4).

The owner of a new system must install equipment that will prevent and detect the release of gasoline products or vapors (i.e., sensors), must install double-walled piping, and must test the system for leaks before placing it into service, among other requirements.

The regulations also impose requirements for piping design and spill prevention equipment on all regulated UST systems. Accordingly, these rules cover UST systems for gasoline, other motor fuels and heating oil, and apply state-wide, not just in “high risk groundwater use areas.” According to the MDE, the regulations were enacted in response to concerns that existing UST design requirements were “not sufficient in preventing or detecting small leaks in motor fuel underground storage tanks systems.” See 32:4 Maryland Register 406 (February 18, 2005).

Under the new rules, the owner of any regulated UST system who installs, upgrades, or replaces piping that routinely contains petroleum or a regulated substance must install a secondary containment piping system. See COMAR The new piping must also have liquid-tight containment sump connections at the UST and product dispensers. In addition, owners and operators of all regulated UST systems must perform an annual leak test of spill catchment basins and use containment sumps at all tank and dispenser connections. The containment sumps must also be tested periodically. See COMAR

In addition, the new package of UST rules contains inspection provisions requiring MDE-certified inspections no later than December 31, 2007, for existing tanks, or within six months of installation for new tanks. Inspections are required every three years thereafter.

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