UST Cleanup Backlog Stands at 68,295 Releases in EPA’s National Summary Report
U.S. EPA’s semiannual report of UST performance documents the progress of its UST program through the end of fiscal year 2017.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collects data from states and territories regarding underground storage tank (UST) performance measures and makes the data publicly available twice a year. This semi-annual UST report includes data and information such as the number of active and closed tanks, releases confirmed, cleanups initiated and completed, facilities in compliance with UST requirements, and inspections.
According to the most recently released report, there are 555,079 active (and known) USTs (at approximately 200,000 sites) regulated by EPA’s UST program. 93,228 on-site inspections at federally-regulated UST facilities were conducted between October 2016 and September 2017 (the last fiscal year). Of those, 92,904 were conducted by states, territories, and third-party inspectors while 324 were conducted by EPA and credentialed tribal inspectors in Indian country.
Since the 1984 inception of the UST program, 1,856,451 USTs have been properly closed, however, reducing the number of releases remaining to be cleaned up (also known as the backlog) remains a priority for the national UST program. The graphic below, taken from EPA’s report, shows that the national UST backlog of releases remaining to be cleaned up has been declining since 2000. Although plenty of sites still need to be cleaned up.
For this reporting period, of the 538,193 releases reported since the beginning of the UST program, 469,898—or 87.3%—have been cleaned up and received a NFA. Unfortunately, that means 68,295—or 12.7% of—confirmed releases at UST facilities remain to be cleaned up (which does not include any unknown/undetected releases). So, notwithstanding the common perception that these “smaller” UST sites are easier and thus faster to remediate and reuse compared to RCRA or CERCLA/Superfund sites, the truth is that a large number of UST sites with releases were documented in the 1980’s.
EPA Region 4 (which includes Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina) leads all regions with 19,518 UST releases yet to be remediated. Florida currently leads all states with the highest number of sites needing to be cleaned with 10,011.
The report also shows there were 5,678 new releases in 2017. Texas led all states with 285 confirmed releases in the last year.
EPA’s UST report compiles the data and presents it in table format for all states, territories, and Indian country, which you can view or download here.