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.
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, 2,553 facility files have been obtained and 2,329 facility files have been reviewed. In addition, 656 facilities have been inspected in 87 Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) jurisdictions.
- For Enforcement Publications please visit the UST Program Publication Library
- Local Guidance (LG) Letters
- Red Tags
- Water Quality Enforcement Policy
Regulatory Agency Links
- California Office of the Attorney General (OAG)
- Unified Program Agencies (UPAs)
- Environmental Circuit Prosecutors Project
- Local Oversight Program (LOP)
- USEPA Office of Underground Storage Tanks (OUST)
Brian Taylor, UST Enforcement Supervisor