The purpose of above-ground diesel storage tank environmental regulations is to protect the groundwater from diesel contamination. Regulations exist both at the federal and state levels. Federal regulations are enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Enforcement of state regulations varies with the state. Failure to comply can result in hefty fines. Regulations and fines reinforce the fact that diesel contamination is a serious hazard that may result in irreversible environmental damage.
Most states require both above-ground and underground diesel storage tanks to be registered with the state where the tank is located. Requirements may vary based on the time that the tank was installed. Taking the lead from the 1984 Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, many states, including Florida, implemented new regulations when existing tanks had to be retrofitted. They also placed new rules on how tanks could be constructed including installation of leakage warning systems. Some states may have different guidelines for tanks used for noncommercial purposes.
In order to reduce fire hazard, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) developed a set of guidelines for owners of above-ground diesel tanks regarding how a tank should be situated. The NFPA recommends that these storage tanks be located in areas free of weeds and combustible materials. The storage tanks should also be located at least 40 feet from any existing structures. To reduce evaporation losses, the NFPA also recommended that owners place tanks in an east-west orientation to reduce the amount of direct sunlight hitting the surface of the tank.
The tank must be built using the Standards of the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) and the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Further, the tank must be properly labelled with the words, "FLAMMABLE--KEEP FIRE AND FLAME AWAY" in letters at least 6 inches high. Placement of "No Smoking" signs in the nearby area is also recommended. In order to minimise the environmental impact within the immediate area, above-ground diesel storage tanks should be painted in a nonreflective white or aluminium colour to reduce evaporation. Any electrical components must be waterproof.
Any leaks or environmental contamination from diesel fuel stored in the storage tanks must be reported to the EPA as well as state regulators. Depending upon the nature of the contamination, cleanup may be necessary. Regular reports from the tank's owners detailing the clean-up process may be required. The EPA may also impose a fine for environmental damage.
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