Underground Storage Tank Enforcement

Most underground storage tank (UST) owners and operators voluntarily comply with applicable laws and regulations; however some do not comply due to lack of information, neglect or deliberate intent.

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) created the Underground Storage Tank (UST) Enforcement Unit to support enforcement of the UST Leak Prevention and Cleanup Programs, primarily by investigating violations of UST construction, monitoring, and cleanup requirements. These include violations such as: failure to monitor tanks and/or piping, failure to perform required testing, and tampering with leak detection devices. The State Water Board develops cases to refer to the State Attorney General’s office or other prosecutorial entities. In addition, the State Water Board has the authority to prosecute cases administratively.

The UST Enforcement Unit also supports enforcement of the California Tank Tester Licensing Program by enforcing the tank tester licensing requirements. These requirements are designed to ensure that certain types of tests on UST systems are performed only by qualified individuals. The State Water Board can take administrative enforcement action against licensed tank testers. There are approximately 85 licensed tank testers in California.

The UST Enforcement Unit works closely and develops partnerships with various local, state and federal agencies to conduct inspections, review data, and assist in or lead statewide UST investigations to achieve compliance of USTs and minimize threats to water quality and the environment.

  More information on the Underground Storage Tank Program.

  More information on the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund.

  Please contact us if you have questions or need assistance.
Brian Taylor, UST Enforcement Supervisor
Email: Brian.Taylor@waterboards.ca.gov

UST Enforcement Unit's 2019-2020 Fiscal Year Priorities

The Office of Enforcement's (OE) Underground Storage Tank (UST) Enforcement Unit is shifting priorities during the 2019-2020 fiscal year and will apply its resources to administer the programs described in the following sections.

Government Owned Tanks (GOT)

The 2005 Federal Energy Act required a one-time report of the compliance status at government owned and/or operated underground storage tank (GOT) facilities throughout the nation. In August 2007, the State Water Board reported 415 non-compliant GOT facilities to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). After a fuel release from USTs at a publicly owned facility in San Francisco, USEPA and the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement (OE) began working together to conduct inspections at GOT facilities. Violations identified at these GOT facilities suggested a disparate rate of compliance with UST laws and regulations between publicly and privately owned and operated UST facilities. In December 2009, OE began the GOT program with assistance provided from USEPA.

The purpose of the GOT program is to gain compliance with state and federal laws at UST facilities owned and/or operated by government agencies by conducting file reviews, performing site inspections, and taking enforcement actions when appropriate. Since 2010 OE staff have obtained 2,777 GOT facility files; of which, 2,493 been reviewed. In addition, 735 GOT facilities have been inspected in 87 Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) jurisdictions with a 100 percent compliance rate. Over the course of this fiscal year, the GOT Program will be ramped down. Facilities chosen by OE staff for inspection for the scaled down program will be selected from candidates submitted to the OE.

  Submit the SWRCB OE Facility Referral Form

Please complete and submit the SWRCB OE Facility Referral Form if you are a CUPA that would elect to transfer compliance and enforcement efforts of a GOT facility in your jurisdiction to the OE. The SUBMIT button will send your completed form to Brian.Taylor@waterboards.ca.gov.

Note: The fillable form must be opened as an Adobe PDF file for the form fields and submit button to work.

Removal of Improperly Abandoned Tanks (RAT)

The RAT program is a revival of an initiative that was implemented from 2013 through November 2016. Compliance was achieved at 208 facilities out of the 327 facilities initially identified across the state of California. An assessment of the 119 remaining improperly abandoned USTs is being conducted and verified with information in the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS), Geotracker, and the information CUPAs provide in Report 6. The updated inventory will be further screened to prioritize facilities relative to drinking water wells and disadvantaged communities (DAC). OE will impose compliance and enforcement actions where applicable or direct site owners to the appropriate funding mechanism.

Focused Enforcement of Recalcitrant and Significant Violators

CERS data indicate that there are violations that remain unresolved for years. There are recalcitrant operators who own multiple facilities with long standing violations. To locate these facilities, existing CERS data will be reviewed to create a recalcitrant and significant violators database to focus of OE enforcement efforts. Facilities in DAC where water quality violations impact or threaten drinking water sources within minority, low income, and Native American communities will be prioritized for enforcement. The overall goal is to emphasize an environmental justice component with recalcitrant violators. Selected facilities will be discussed with CUPAs to ensure consistent, coordinated application of compliance efforts. CUPAs may also use the SWRCB OE Facility Referral Form to refer facilities that warrant prioritized enforcement efforts to the OE.