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Toxics Cleanup Program


Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)

Regulatory History

  • In 1984, Congress passed Subtitle I of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. Chapter 82, Subchapter IX), which created a federal program to regulate underground storage tank (UST) systems storing petroleum and other hazardous substances and directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish requirements for UST systems to prevent releases.  For more information about the federal law, see www.epa.gov/oust/fedlaws/statute.htm.

  • In 1986, Congress passed amendments to Subtitle I that directed EPA to establish financial responsibility requirements for UST owners and operators to cover the cost of taking corrective actions and to compensate third parties for injury and property damage caused by leaking tanks.

  • In 1988, EPA adopted rules establishing requirements for UST systems (40 C.F.R. Part 280) and minimum requirements for state program approval (40 C.F.R. Part 281).  For more information about the federal rules, see www.epa.gov/oust/fedlaws/cfr.htm.

  • In 1989, the Washington State Legislature passed a law requiring the Department to Ecology to establish an UST program that meets the requirements for state program approval and adopt rules that are consistent with and no less stringent than the requirements in the federal regulations (chapter 90.76 RCW).  

  • In 1990 and 1991, Ecology adopted regulations establishing a state UST program pursuant to the Legislature’s direction (chapter 173-360 WAC). 

  • In 1993, EPA approved Washington State’s UST program.  Washington State was one of the first states in the nation to be granted state program approval.

  • In 1995 and 1998, the Washington State Legislature amended chapter 90.76 RCW, and Ecology amended chapter 173-360 WAC to implement those changes.

  • In 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act.  Title XV, Subtitle B of this act (titled the Underground Storage Tank Compliance Act) contains amendments to Subtitle I of the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the original legislation that created the federal UST program.  The law required state UST programs receiving federal funding to comply with new federal requirements (such as operator training and secondary containment).  See www.epa.gov/oust/fedlaws/epact_05.htm.

  • In 2007, the Washington State Legislature amended chapter 90.76 RCW to implement the new federal requirements in the UST Compliance Act of 2005. The Legislature directed Ecology to adopt rules that are consistent with and no less stringent than those requirements.  See app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5475&year=2007

  • In 2012, Ecology adopted changes to the state UST rules (chapter 173-360 WAC) to implement the federal requirements in the UST Compliance Act of 2005. To learn more about the changes, visit: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/regs/ust/2012/rule-making.html.

  • In 2015, EPA adopted changes to the federal UST rule (40 CFR Part 280). This is the first major revision to the federal rule since 1988. The changes implement the requirements in the UST Compliance Act of 2005, add new operation and maintenance requirements for UST systems, and establish requirements for certain types of UST systems deferred in the 1988 rules. EPA also adopted changes to the state program approval requirements (40 CFR Part 281) to reflect the changes in the federal UST rule. States with approved programs, including Washington State, must incorporate the new federal requirements within three years (by June 2018) to maintain approval. To view the new federal rules and learn more about the changes, visit: http://www.epa.gov/oust/fedlaws/revregs.html.