Is Your Fuel Oil Tank In Compliance with NYS DEC Code?

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has started enforcing regulatory changes (see 6 NYCRR 613) adopted in 2015 that affect petroleum bulk storage tanks, which include indoor tanks in the basements of multifamily and commercial buildings. DEC is sending inspectors out to perform spot checks of tanks, which may result in penalties for noncompliance.

The major regulatory change made by DEC that concerns owners of buildings is in the definition of underground storage tanks (UST). The new definition of UST includes a tank that has 10 percent or more of its volume (inclusive of piping) beneath the ground or covered by materials (these tanks were formerly considered above ground storage tanks (ASTs)). Thus, any tank that is above ground and encased in concrete, even if just the bottom portion of the tank, is now defined as a UST, which brings additional compliance obligations that include leak monitoring, a log book of monitoring results, monthly checks of the monitoring system, specific labeling and color-coding of ports and pipes, an amended tank registration, pipe monitoring and tightness testing, and operator training requirements.

The particular definitions and respective compliance requirements for USTs and ASTs, as well as the tank size thresholds that trigger applicability, can be found in the DEC regulations. The UST regulations (6NYCRR 613-2 and 613-3) apply to any underground tank or system with a capacity of more than 110 gallons; but where the tank is used only for “on-premises consumption” (i.e. heating the building in which the tank sits), the threshold is 1,100 gallons or more. The AST regulations (6 NYCRR 613-4) apply to any above ground tank or system with an individual or combined capacity or more than 1,100 gallons. There is no “grandfathering” of existing tank under the old definitions, so compliance is required despite no subsequent work being done on the tank.

The DEC code defines the responsibility of building owners with regard to the category of tank that exists in the building, or facility as it is now referred. The three categories are labeled 1, 2 and 3. Category 1 tanks are those installed before December 27, 1986; Category 2 tanks are those installed between December 27, 1986 through October 11, 2015; and Category 3 tanks installed after October 11, 2015.

Each of these categories will contain systems that as mentioned above will either be an above ground storage tank system or an underground storage tank system. Within this grouping, it is good to know that a UST does not include a tank system situated in an “accessible underground area” and a tank system that is covered by materials does not include a tank system where the tank is completely above the surface of the ground and is fully enclosed within pre-fabricated, secondary containment. It is important to know what type of tank exists in your building and how it relates to the revised code.

The revised Part 613 includes significant changes to many PBS definitions. The definition of petroleum has been expanded to match the federal definitions and include synthetic forms of certain oils as well as complex blends of hydrocarbons and petroleum mixtures. The definition of facility has been modified and is now defined as a single property, or contiguous or adjacent properties that are used for a common purpose and are owned or operated by the same person or persons on which the tanks are located, not the tanks themselves. The property owner is therefore responsible for registration of the tanks, and the tank owner/operator is responsible for operations and maintenance of the tanks. The UST system has been modified to match 40 CFR Part 280, which states that a UST system is 10 percent or more tank volume beneath ground or covered by materials; the definition of AST system is now the converse of a UST system.

In addition, the regulations pertaining to the equipment within the fill system will also be enforced so that spills or overfills are prevented. Identification at the fill box with the proper designations by either a corresponding API color code or stenciled letters are necessary to flag the delivery on what type of product is in the tank in addition to specifying tank registration identification numbers and operating capacities. Procedures for action prior to a fill are also spelled out.

Every owner/operator who has either an AST or a UST in their facility should be investigating it against the NYS DEC Code, or should contact thier boiler company. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me for additional information or a clarification on how to proceed since we have already instituted a program of inspections and reporting in order to mitigate any possible violations that may be imposed on the facility for non-compliance.

Kenneth Camilleri, General Manager
Original Energy
45-17 Marathon Parkway, Floor 2
Little Neck, NY 11362

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