Frequently Asked Questions:  Tank Operator Training

  1. Why is the federal government requiring operator training?

    A:  The primary purpose of the training requirement is for owners and operators to understand how to properly operate and maintain UST systems, maintain compliance with state requirements, and reduce the possibility of leaks. To put things into perspective, UST inspections show that only about 60% of UST facilities in Washington State are fully in compliance with our regulations. Being out of compliance can increase the possibility for leaks to occur, and leaks can go unnoticed. Over time, even small undetected leaks can cause extensive soil and groundwater contamination. These impact human health and the environment and can be very expensive to clean up.

  2. How long do I have before I am required to be trained and certified?

    A:  All UST operators must be trained and certified by December 31, 2012.  If operators are not certified by this date, the owner may be subject to penalties.  See WAC 173-360-720(1).

  3. How much does the training cost?

    A:  Training costs are determined by the training vendor and depend on several factors. Certain types of classes may cost more (classroom vs. web-based) but may not offer the best learning style for your operators nor be the best format for your facility type. Also, training costs vary depending on the operator class (A, B or C) training you require. It is best to contact the vendors directly to determine the costs associated with your specific training needs.

  4. Is there any grant or loan money available to help cover some or all of the training costs?

    A:  Financial assistance is not available from either the state or the federal government.

  5.  How often do I need to be trained?

    A:  Most operator certificates are “good for life”. However, Ecology may require that your Class A and/or Class B operators be retrained if your UST system is not kept in compliance with the UST regulations.   See WAC 173-360-740.  Violations that may lead to retraining can include:

    • failure to conduct leak detection and/or keep adequate records;
    • failure to provide required spill or overfill protection;
    • failure to maintain financial responsibility requirements;
    • failure to conduct routine testing of your UST system components; or
    • failure to report a suspected or confirmed release.

  6. I own several facilities. Do I need a separate operator certificate for each site?

    A:   A trained Class A, B, or C operator may apply their certification to more than one facility, if the training received was not limited to a certain facility or specific type of UST system.

  7. May an individual be designated to more than one operator class?

    A:  Yes. An individual may be designated to more than one operator class.  In fact, an individual may be designated to all three operator classes (A, B, and C).  See WAC 173-360-710(3). 

  8. As an owner of an UST facility, do I have to designate who the Class A, B and C operators are for my UST facility?

    A:  Yes. And if you own more than one facility, you have to designate the specific operators for each of your locations.  See WAC 173-360-710.

  9. I own an unmanned facility such as a card lock station or an emergency generator tank at a telecommunication facility. Do I need to have designated and trained operators?

    A:  Yes. Your designated operators are still responsible for the proper operation and maintenance activities and responding to emergencies or alarms.

  10. I’m a Class A or B operator. Can I personally train my Class C operator?

    A:  Yes. Certified Class A and B operators have received the proper training to provide Class C operators with the information they need to be certified. The Class A or B operator must complete a form providing proof that the Class C operator was trained on specific topics, such as how to respond to alarms and emergencies.   See WAC 173-360-730(2)(a).

  11. If I get trained before the new UST rule is effective (October 1, 2012), will I be “grandfathered in” under the new rule?

    A:   Yes.  If you get trained before October 1, 2012 (the effective date of new UST rule), then you will be “grandfathered in” under the new rule.  That is, you do not need to go through the training again just because the rules governing USTs have changed.  See WAC 173-360-730(4).  However, you may choose to go through the training again to learn about the new requirements, including secondary and under-dispenser containment.  

  12. Are there advantages to getting trained before the new UST rule is effective?

    A:  The earlier you become trained, the sooner you and your facility’s operators will understand the requirements for your UST system. You will also avoid the rush that will inevitably occur as the training deadline of December 31, 2012 approaches. When the new UST rule becomes effective, you may choose to go through the training again to learn about the new laws; however, it is not required.

  13. Where can I find Ecology-approved training courses?

    A:  Ecology has approved several companies to provide operator training. Each company may provide different training formats and fees for each class. A current list of Ecology-approved training companies can be found here.

  14. Who can I contact to find out more about this new training requirement?

    A:  Please contact an UST inspector in your regional Ecology office.

  15. After I successfully complete my operator training course, what should I do with my certificate?

    A:  Operator training documentation should be maintained on site and, when requested, made available for inspection by Ecology.   See WAC 173-360-760.

  16. Do I need to notify Ecology when I complete my required training?

    A:  No. Ecology will get lists of trained operators from the various training vendors. But remember, your training certificate is your proof of being a trained operator and it is your responsibility to maintain a copy of the certificates on site.

  17. Will trainings be offered in any languages other than English?

    A:  Currently, the classes are only offered in English, however some training vendors are considering other languages.

  18. If I was designated and trained as a Class A or Class B operator in another state or at a tribal UST facility, do I need to get trained again in this state?

    A:  No.  If you were designated and properly trained as a Class A or Class B operator in another state or at a tribal UST facility, then you do not need to get trained again in this state.  However, you must have a written record of the out-of-state training.  See WAC 173-360-730(3).