A tank and any underground pipe connecting to the tank that has at least 10% of its total volume underneath is known as an underground storage tank system (UST). UST systems that include fuels, chemicals, and wastes are widespread and prevalent in the United States, posing a serious danger to groundwater quality.
It’s estimated that more than 640,000 federally regulated underground storage tanks now in use contain fuels or hazardous materials. Even hydrologically related surface water can be contaminated by these systems, which can leak and pollute the soil and groundwater. In densely populated places, where public and household water supplies are centralized, leaks like this are common. Cleaning them up is tough and expensive, especially when it comes to a public water supply.
There is still a concern with USTs, despite their widespread usage. How can we know that this is the most pressing issue we’re facing? The answer is: leaking. According to estimates, tens of thousands of USTs are now leaking throughout the United States.
Most USTs were built of bare steel prior to 1988. When bare steel is exposed to moisture and time, it corrodes, causing the USTs to leak. Local groundwater supplies might be contaminated by leaking petroleum or other contaminants. it might also potentially be a risk of fire or explosion.
Because of the leakage, a UST poses the biggest environmental risk and, consequently, human health risk. The land and groundwater might be contaminated if these tanks leak. Soil and underlying groundwater can be contaminated by pollutants dumped above or below ground. Animals and people can become ill if they swallow, inhale, or touch polluted soil, or if they eat plants or animals that have been infected themselves. The groundwater in the United States is also at risk from leaking underground storage tanks. The latter is anticipated to provide half of the nation’s drinking water supply. A polluted groundwater supply is extremely difficult and expensive to clean up after it has been contaminated.
Additionally, gas stations, industries, and other entities use USTs to store toxic materials such as gasoline and oil, which contain hazardous substances such as benzene, toluene, and heavy metals, all of which can cause cancer and harm developing children. In addition, when their walls deteriorate, USTs can pose a hazard to communities by silently seeping contaminants into our drinking water sources, residences, and places of business. Faulty underground storage tanks that hold petroleum also pose a greater danger of fire and explosion. These are major hazards that must be taken very seriously, demonstrating the need of maintaining storage tanks in excellent condition and having them installed correctly.
And since underground storage tanks pose a threat to the environment and human health, if they begin to leak, they are extremely expensive to fix, and the clean-up might cost you thousands of dollars. If you’re like most people, underground storage tanks are something you’ve thought about only sometimes, if ever. When compared to other features such as marble countertops, walk-in closets, and outdoor patios, USTs are rarely considered by home buyers throughout the decision-making process. However, if you have any problems with your UST, it will rapidly become one of the more expensive aspects of your house to replace. After 20 years of operation, underground storage tanks become extremely difficult to maintain, making financial responsibility compliance impossible for tank owners.
Although there are federal and state rules governing underground storage tanks, tank owners are sometimes inexperienced and unprepared to deal with the possible dangers that come with owning such tanks. First and foremost, as a tank owner, you must recognize that all storage tanks leak eventually, and that it is only a matter of time before your tank leaks. Storage tanks are seen as “ticking time bombs” by the insurance industry. Understanding that managing a storage tank is more difficult than it appears will allow you to proceed with taking the necessary precautions to reduce the risk associated with owning and operating the tank. After the system has been put into service, leak prevention is dependent on good installation, followed by correct operation and maintenance of the system. The cautious placement of new USTs away from drinking water sources also contributes to lowering the danger of contamination.
As long as USTs exist, they will be a major concern since each installation has the potential to leak, posing a harm to both human health and the environment. Improvements in UST systems are the result of federal and state regulations and initiatives, as well as improved technology and a greater awareness on the side of tank owners and operators in recent years. While it is true that leaks can occur, they are emerging at a far lower frequency, and we must be attentive in order to avoid tank systems from leaking in the first place, as well as to guarantee that leaking systems are reported immediately and cleaned up as quickly as possible