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 RIAT program is an enforcement initiative targeted at improperly abandoned underground storage tanks (USTs) statewide. This initiative is a continuation of an effort that identified 327 improperly abandoned UST facilities in 2013 and successfully achieved compliance at 208 facilities of those facilities. In 2021 a second statewide assessment of improperly abandoned USTs showed that 136 improperly abandoned facilities still existed. Included in this list are 12 facilities which are in disadvantaged communities (DAC) within 1,000 feet of a municipal supply well. This subset of facilities was prioritized by the RIAT program for evaluation to determine the best means to obtain compliance. The prioritization of these sites in this manner aligns with the Water Boards’ commitment to Environmental Justice principles.

The visualization shows the locations of RIAT facilities in the project indicated by indigo points and 1,000-foot buffer zones around municipal wells in the RIAT facility vicinities. The colored polygons indicate land tracts assigned a DAC percentile score. Facilities within DAC scores exceeding 70 are prioritized for compliance actions. The goal of the project is to remove all improperly abandoned USTs from each facility. All facilities will be evaluated for RUST (Replacing, Removal or upgrading Underground Storage Tanks) funding eligibility.

To interact with the map please hover the cursor above any feature displayed in the map legend. Facilities on the map can be searched by city or zip code by clicking on the search icon at the top left of the map.

The number of facilities counted as “In Compliance on the bar graph title is an aggregate total of the categories in the bar graph. Closed facilities are those that have removed improperly abandoned USTs from the facility but have permitted USTs remaining on other portions of the property. The No Further Action Required facilities have removed improperly abandoned USTs with no evidence of a release. The UST(s) removed facilities have removed the improperly abandoned tanks but have not yet completed a cleanup or determined if there was a release. To locate the facilities categorized in the bar graph, click on the title below any bar. Click on an area outside the bar but within the graph to return the visualization to its complete appearance.

Focused Enforcement of Recalcitrant and Significant Violators

Underground Storage Tank (UST) data in the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS) indicate that there are UST facilities with violations that have remained unresolved for years. The FERVS initiative uses CERS date to triage and prioritize those facilities for investigation by the Office of Enforcement with the ultimate goal being to return these facilities to compliance. The initial criteria used to prioritize facilities for the FERSV program was to identify UST(s) with ongoing significant violations that are greater than 1 year old, where violations impact or threaten drinking water sources within minority, low income, and Native American communities. The prioritization of these sites in this manner aligns with the Water Boards’ commitment to Environmental Justice principles and aligns the FERSV project with the State Water Board’s overall environmental justice goals.

The visualization shows the locations of the 160 facilities that were identified as recalcitrant (indigo points), and 1,000-foot buffer zones around municipal wells in the facility vicinities (clear circles). The colored polygons indicate land tracts assigned a DAC percentile score. All facilities in this project are within DAC areas that score greater than 70. The goal of the project is to work collaboratively with Unified Program Agencies (UPAs) to return all facilities to compliance.

To interact with the map please hover the cursor above any feature displayed in the map legend. Facilities on the map can be searched by city or zip code by clicking on the search icon at the top left of the map. To locate the facilities categorized in the bar graph, click on the title below a bar.

The bar graph category of In Compliance represents the total number of FERVS facilities that local agencies have notified State Board staff have been returned to compliance. This was generally accomplished by updating facility information in the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS). The Referred to Water Board bar graph category represents the total number of facilities for which local agencies have transferred to the Office of Enforcement, the regulatory task of returning them to compliance.