Prevent groundwater contamination and ensure legal compliance with UST regulations using a standard underground storage tank inspection checklist
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A UST inspection checklist is a document used to ensure that an underground storage tank (UST) is in good condition and is compliant with regulations.
An underground storage tank (UST) is defined as any tank (together with its piping) that has at least ten percent of its total volume underground. But the UST regulations only apply to tanks that contain substances that are classified as hazardous, like petroleum and formaldehyde.
The government issued formal regulations because underground tanks were initially constructed with inferior building materials. For example, the first underground tanks were mostly built out of bare steel and were highly prone to corrosion over time.
Corrosion could cause unnoticeable leaks from the underground tank which would then infiltrate the soil and contaminate groundwater. And since groundwater is one of the main sources of drinking water, the contamination leads to sickness and even death. After some incidents, the government made strict regulations to address this problem.
Violations against underground storage regulations can lead to penalties. And in countries that are very strict about enforcing environmental policies, a violation can lead to imprisonment.
To ensure compliance with UST regulations, it is important to use a standard UST inspection checklist and understand what lapses in maintenance or building code violations result in penalties and fines.
1. Monthly underground storage tank inspection procedures
2. Annual underground storage tank inspection procedures
3. The benefits of a digital UST inspection checklist
From the EPA UST inspection checklist for underground storage tanks, there are five monthly procedures that you need to conduct to remain compliant with government regulations. They are usually visual inspections and cleaning procedures. Below are the details on why each step is important and some essential tips on how to do it.
Spill buckets are also referred to as spill protection (also known as spill containment manhole and catchment basin). They are containment devices around the fill pipe to catch spills or drops when disconnecting the delivery pipe to the fill pipe.
There are varying standards of spill bucket capacities ranging from 5 gallons to 25 gallons. Depending on the capacities, some spill buckets may have pumps or drains to remove the liquid they caught.
According to the UST inspection checklist, you should regularly check spill buckets and clear them of any liquid or debris. Make sure to dispose of the hazardous liquid properly.
Check the spill bucket for are any signs of corrosion, damage, or deformation. Also, check for any damaged gaskets or seals. If these are damaged, the hazardous liquid caught by the spill bucket will leak into the soil and cause contamination.
A fill pipe is a pipe that extends upward from the underground storage tank to the ground. This pipe serves as a connector between the underground tank to the delivery vehicles.
According to the UST inspection checklist, you will need to check if the fill pipes are free from any signs of corrosion and damage. Also, check the pipes for any obstruction and then remove these obstructions to prevent clogging.
Fill caps refer to the covering of the fill pipes. During the monthly inspection, you will need to check if the cap is securely fitted to the fill pipe.
Underground storage tanks have various monitoring devices that ensure that the tank is safe and compliant with the requirements. These monitoring devices are usually interconnected into a central device called the Automatic Tank Gauging (ATG).
The ATG system can operate in two modes: inventory and leak detector. Inventory mode refers to its capability of continuously monitoring the liquid level as well as the temperature readings. The leak detector mode can detect leaks through an in-tank static test.
According to the UST inspection checklist, you will need to check if the tank is in normal working condition or if there are any alarms. If there are any alarms, it is recommended to quickly check and troubleshoot the cause.
This monthly procedure involves getting the detection records and documents for the past three years and ensuring that all required, government-mandated documents are present.
To give an example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires the following to all those who are under UST regulations:
These are just examples and may vary from country to country.
It is also recommended to check the supplies of the emergency spill response kit. These usually come in the form of spill kits, which are comprised of personal protective equipment and disposable tools to immediately control the spill.
You will also need to inspect accessories like nozzles, hoses, and breakaways. You should immediately replace them if there are signs of loosening, deformation, or damages that could lead to leaks.
To remain in compliance with state and federal laws, you will need to conduct an annual underground storage tank assessment. These are very thorough and include various tests that will determine if the underground tanks meet safety criteria.
Containment sumps are subsurface pits that are used to access various equipment and accessories that are being used on the underground tank. There are four types of containment sumps: turbine sump, dispenser sump, transition, and spill bucket.
During the annual inspection, inspectors will open the containment sumps and check if it’s clear of any liquid and debris. Aside from those basic requirements, these are the sump components based on the UST inspection checklist:
Aside from sumps inspection, the annual inspection checklist contains a list of mandatory tests. The first one is the overfill protection test that evaluates how well the tank constricts flow when the tank is almost full. There are usually three devices to check: the automatic shutoff device, the overfill alarm, and the flow restrictors.
Next on the checklist is testing the corrosion protection of the UST in the form of the installed tank lining protection and the cathodic protection.
Last is the annual release detection test, also called the leak detection test. This involves the following:
Ensuring that underground storage tanks are up to code and free from damage is extremely important to avoiding groundwater contamination and maintaining the safety of drinking water. To do this, you will need to conduct a series of monthly and annual tests. However, handwritten paper checklists are not only tedious and time-consuming, but they can also be misplaced, damaged, or illegible.
With the Lumiform app, you can access your checklists for inspections on any mobile device - online or offline. Not only that, but you can report any problems with the underground storage tanks on the go whether you’re onsite or off. Use Lumiform’s checklist to:
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