February 7, 2012
Developing an Underground Storage Tank (UST) Vision
There are approximately 3800 Underground Storage Tank (UST) facilities in Massachusetts. MassDEP
has enough resources to conduct a limited number of inspections, but not enough to inspect them on the
triennial basis required by EPA. To close this staffing/resources gap, MassDEP is proposing that a “three
legged stool”, comprised of third-party inspectors (TPIs), Owners/Operators, and MassDEP inspectors,
working together, be the core of the MA UST program to ensure that UST facilities are being operated
and maintained appropriately and are in compliance with the UST regulations.
On December 6, 2011, the Department distributed a draft vision for the UST program to both internal and
external stakeholders. That draft proposed that the UST program utilize the key components of
MassDEP’s Environmental Results Program (ERP), including:
• the development of an UST workbook for use by the regulated community to assist in achieving and
• an annual ERP certification; and
• enhanced compliance assistance using the resources of the Department and the regulated
community, including trade associations.
The purpose of this current document is to provide further details on the approach the Department will
use with respect to inspections and compliance assurance while writing the next draft of the regulations.
We had hoped to have this next draft available for distribution on or about February 14, 2012; however,
we now anticipate that the next draft of the regulations will be distributed in mid-March. This document
does not discuss other aspects of the regulations, such as integrity and tightness testing, maintenance
requirements, installation and closure requirements, financial responsibility, or delivery prohibitions, but
rather is limited in scope to inspections and certifications. The draft regulations to be distributed in
February will, however, be a complete version of the regulations.
The following sections highlight the key functions and responsibilities of the third-party inspectors (TPIs),
Owners/Operators, and MassDEP.
MassDEP plans to continue the third-party inspection program currently in place under the DFS
regulations, with some changes to expand the requirements for a person to become, and continue to be,
a certified TPI. TPIs will be key to the success of the Massachusetts UST program. They will be
responsible for completing an inspection of each UST system and submitting an inspection report to the
Owner or Operator every three years. Therefore, it is critical that TPIs be knowledgeable and experienced
in conducting UST inspections.
The Federal Grant Guidelines give states the option of instituting a third-party inspection program
whereby registered third-party inspectors inspect UST facilities and the inspection reports are submitted
to the implementing agency.
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February 2, 2012
Roles and Obligations of Third-Party Inspectors
become and remain certified in Massachusetts
avoid conflicts of interest
perform inspections in compliance with the regulation
The TPI obligations are separate and distinct from those of Owners/Operators or the Department. The
draft regulations will propose that failure to comply with the applicable requirements may lead to
enforcement, revocation or suspension of a third-party inspection registration, and/or requiring that a TPI
retake the third-party inspector examination.
Becoming and Remaining Certified in Massachusetts
In order to become and remain certified in Massachusetts, a person must:
Meet the following pre-qualification requirements:
o Hold a college degree in science or engineering, OR be a Licensed Site Professional
(LSP), a Professional Engineer or a Professional Geologist; and
Meet one of the following additional criteria:
o Demonstrate that they have learned how to conduct third-party inspections through
hands-on, practical experience under the supervision of a registered third-party
inspector, and have conducted (a to-be-determined number) inspections with that
o Hold a third-party inspector certification from another state(s), and have performed a
minimum of (a to-be-determined number) third-party inspections in that state(s).
NOTE: Third-party inspectors who are currently registered with MassDEP, and have conducted (a to-be-
determined number) inspections since August 8, 2007, will be exempted from these pre-qualification
requirements. This exemption will remain in-place for two years from the date when the third-party
inspector examination first becomes available.
Pass an exam
The exam will consist of a test which would include both a written and a field section. It will be
administered by MassDEP (or a contractor) and the applicant will pay a fee (to be determined, but
set so that the full cost of the test will be covered by the fee). After passing both sections of the
exam, the applicant will become a certified TPI.
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February 7, 2012
Complete training and/or continuing education
Once certified, a TPI will be required to take annual training and perhaps continuing education in
order to keep current with MassDEP regulation changes, policies, program changes, and the
results of program evaluations. These training aspects are discussed below.
o Annual Training
All certified third-party inspectors will be required to take annual training provided by
MassDEP. This training will give third-party inspectors an opportunity to learn about any
changes in the third-party inspection program and the UST program, new regulations or
department UST program policies, etc. It will also give third-party inspectors and
MassDEP staff an opportunity to discuss how the inspection program is working in
general, and how it may be improved. This training is a requirement of the federal UST
program, and the Department anticipates that the TPIs would need to attend one or two
sessions each year.
o Continuing Education
In addition to the annual training, MassDEP is considering requiring continuing education
that would be administered by someone other than MassDEP, such as other
governmental agencies, trade groups, and consulting and/or technical training companies.
This continuing education could consist of continuing education classes or specific
Department-approved training courses.
Avoid Conflicts of Interest
A key factor in maintaining the integrity of the TPI inspection is that the TPI not have a conflict of
interest with the Owner/Operator of the facility being inspected. The draft regulations will address this
Perform Inspections in Compliance with the Regulations
It may be a statement of the obvious, but TPIs will need to conduct their inspections and fill out the
inspection reports in full compliance with the regulations. The TPIs will be responsible for this
independently of their client.
Third-Party Inspection Schedules
EPA requires that every UST system be inspected at least once every three years. Currently, each
facility has its own unique schedule for third-party inspections based on the date of its third-party
inspection during the 2007-2010 compliance period. The inspection dates are not evenly distributed, and
are concentrated in the last several months of that compliance period.
The term “inspection” includes the submittal of the inspection report to the owner or operator
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February 2, 2012
In order to distribute the inspections more evenly, MassDEP proposes assigning each UST facility a
specific calendar quarter when its third third-party inspection will be due. These inspection due dates will
be distributed over the 12 calendar quarters between August 8, 2013 and August 8, 2016, and will be the
last day in each quarter. (For example, the due dates would be December 31, 2013 (the first “quarter” of
the compliance period will actually be 5 months, from August 8 to December 31); March 31, 2013; June
30, 2013; etc.). This approach will help ensure that there are sufficient TPIs available and will assist
MassDEP in managing the submission of the inspection reports, especially until electronic filing is
MassDEP intends to publish the third-party inspection schedule on its website at least six months before
the first quarter when third-party inspections are due (that is, by February 8, 2013 which is 6 months prior
to August 8, 2013) so that all Owners/Operators will be notified well in advance of their required
inspection dates. The Department will try to schedule the 2013-2016 inspections so that facilities have as
close to a 3 year interval between inspections as possible. Therefore, facilities whose inspections were
conducted early in the 2010-2013 period will have their next inspection scheduled for early in the 2013-
2016 period. However, since the vast majority of inspections were, or are anticipated to be, conducted
later in the 2010-2013 period, some facilities will have their next inspection scheduled at an interval that is
less than 3 years. Third-party inspections due during the remainder of the current compliance period,
which ends on August 8, 2013, will not be affected by the proposed schedule.
This approach will also allow a facility to have its next third-party inspection conducted sooner than it’s
assigned date so that facilities may adjust their third-party inspection schedules to accommodate
As is currently the case, this approach will allow an owner or operator to take a pro-active approach to
compliance and have the opportunity to identify and fix any UST components that need repair prior to the
TPI inspection. For example, an Owner/Operator would be able to hire a TPI to do an informal
inspection of the UST facility to determine compliance with the regulations so that any needed repairs
could be made before the “official” third-party inspection is conducted. However, if the repairs cannot be
made before the third-party inspection report is due, the Owner/Operator would have to submit a return to
compliance (RTC) plan to MassDEP with the third-party inspection report. The RTC plan will require that
the repairs be made within 30 days of the third-party inspection report due date, unless the Owner/
Operator can demonstrate and document a reasonable basis for why more time is needed to complete
the repairs and provides an anticipated completion date. MassDEP may notify an Owner/Operator that
repairs must be completed sooner than the proposed date if it determines that an extension of the 30 day
period is unwarranted.
Owners/Operators are ultimately responsible for compliance at each UST facility. They (or their
employees or contractors) are the ones who ensure that the facility is being operated and maintained in
compliance with the regulations on a daily basis.
Roles and Obligations of Owners/Operators
Owner/Operator responsibilities for inspections and compliance certifications are broken down into three
routine inspections, including monthly and semi-annual inspections;
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February 7, 2012
submission of the TPI report (and a Return-to-Compliance (RTC) form if necessary); and
submission of the Environmental Results Program (ERP) Certification, a periodic compliance
The following sections address these activities; however the items described below are not a complete list
of the Owner/Operator responsibilities. Other responsibilities include, in part, financial responsibility
obligations, integrity and tightness testing, notification, installation and construction standards.
Routine inspections will be conducted monthly or semi-annually, depending on the components being
inspected. Routine inspections do not include all aspects of environmental compliance. The regulations
will include other testing and maintenance activities.
The requirements for monthly inspections were developed with the following considerations:
o focus on the key leak detection and leak prevention features of an UST system;
o can be accomplished within a reasonable time period with limited intrusion/disassembly
of UST equipment.
The proposed requirements draw from the monthly inspection requirements in the current DFS
regulations found at 527 CMR 9.00, and EPA and industry checklists developed for monthly inspections.
Routine monthly inspections are to be conducted at least every thirty days and primarily consist of
inspecting the physical components of the UST systems that can be easily observed. These inspections
provide a monthly opportunity for the Owner/Operator to evaluate their environmental compliance and to
repair any UST system components that may be out-of-compliance prior to any MassDEP or official third-
Monthly inspections would include the following:
o Inspecting motor fuel dispenser cabinet interiors and dispenser sumps for leaking
components and the presence of regulated substances, water or debris; remove and
manage regulated substances, water and debris according to regulations; repair each
component as necessary;
o Inspecting each spill bucket for the presence of regulated substances, water or debris;
remove and dispose according to regulations; repair spill bucket as necessary;
o Visually verifying that the grade level fill and turbine sump manhole covers are tight
o Inspecting each automatic tank gauge (ATG) and/or leak detection system for proper
operation; if using ATG, verify that monthly leak detection tests have been conducted; if
using interstitial monitors and sensors, determine that they are on and operational;
assess whether alarms have been responded to; repair or replace components as
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February 2, 2012
Routine semi-annual inspections are to be conducted every six months and primarily consist of inspecting
the sumps and their associated components, and inspecting the overfill protection equipment. The semi-
annual inspections provide an opportunity for the Owner/Operator to evaluate the condition of the sumps
and associated components and overfill protection equipment relative to environmental compliance, and
to repair deficiencies prior to any MassDEP or official third-party inspection.
The semi-annual inspection and the relevant monthly inspection may be conducted at the same time.
Semi-annual inspections would include the following:
o Inspecting the sumps for the presence of regulated substances, water and/or debris, and
verifying that the sump sensors are operational and set at the lowest point in the sump
and/or in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations. Remove and manage
regulated substances, water and debris according to regulations;
o Visually inspecting sump components for signs of corrosion, breakage and wear. Repair
o Verifying that the test boots are properly set so that a release from secondary piping will
enter the sump
o Verifying that the overfill protection is present and operational; repair as necessary.
There are two situations, discussed below, where the semi-annual sump inspection will not be required:
1. There are sensors/probes now available that, when installed, maintained and used according
to the manufacturer’s instructions, can provide a higher level of environmental information
and allow a facility to know whether water or product exists in the sump, as well as the
quantity of each. In order to recognize the capabilities of advanced UST technologies, the
semi-annual sump inspections would not be required where:
An UST system has an in-sump sensor/probe that has been properly installed at the
lowest point in the sump and/or in accordance with the manufacturer’s
recommendations, is capable of differentiating between product and water, and alerts
the Owner/Operator to changes in the placement of the sensor.
There is documentation of their installation according to manufacturer’s specifications.
The sumps are inspected during the third-party inspection
2. Facilities that have opened and inspected their sumps in response to an alarm that occurred
within the previous six (6) months, and
when the sump was opened in response to the alarm, the inspection as outlined above
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February 7, 2012
the response to the alarm and inspection were documented.
Facilities to which these exemptions apply must still conduct monthly inspections.
Opportunity to Correct Deficiencies
Deficiencies discovered during the monthly and/or semi-annual inspections and the steps to be taken to
correct them will need to be documented on the monthly and/or semi-annual inspection report. The
documentation must include the date by which the deficiencies will be corrected, not to exceed 30 days.
(We are considering allowing up to 60 days if there are special circumstances that can be clearly defined-
-- such as the unavailability of parts or frozen ground prohibiting excavation for the repair.) The
documentation of deficiencies and the steps taken to correct them (including a completion date) must be
available at the facility for MassDEP inspectors and/or third-party inspectors to review during an
If the deficiencies, the steps taken (or to be taken) to repair them, and the completion date are
documented and available at the facility at the time of a MassDEP inspection, the Department may
exercise its enforcement discretion and not issue an NON.
This approach is intended to apply to relatively minor deficiencies, and would not apply if the Department
determines that the reasons for exceeding 30 days are not appropriate and reasonable, if the facility has
a pattern of non-compliance, if the same deficiency has been identified within the previous 12 months, or
if the violations are egregious, such as, but not limited to, the following:
Any condition that endangers the public health, safety or environment;
Failure to properly install, or having inoperable, leak detection equipment;
Failure to properly install, or having inoperable, spill, overfill or corrosion protection equipment
Failure to maintain financial responsibility.
Submission of TPI Reports and RTC Form (if necessary)
The TPI will provide the Owner/Operator with a signed copy of the third-party inspection report. It is the
responsibility of the Owner/Operator to submit that report to the Department. If there are violations and/or
repairs that have not been fixed by the date the third-party inspection report is due, the Owner/Operator
will have to also submit a RTC form showing that the violations and/or repairs will be remedied within 30
days of the report’s due date, unless the RTC form documents a reasonable basis for why more time is
needed to complete the repairs and provides an anticipated completion date.
MassDEP may notify an Owner/Operator that repairs must be completed sooner than the proposed date
if the Department should determine that the proposed completion date is not reasonable.
Periodic Compliance Certification (the “ERP Certification”)
MassDEP has modeled its proposed ERP program, in part, on Vermont’s UST ERP approach.
The ERP certification focuses on requirements in the draft UST regulations that are not covered in the
routine inspections, including a determination of whether financial responsibility, record keeping and test
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February 2, 2012
results are in compliance with the regulations. The ERP certification will be completed eighteen months
after each third-party inspection. This scheduling results in each UST facility submitting either a third-party
inspection report or an ERP certification every eighteen months (instead of annually). The following list
details what is required for the ERP certification.
The ERP Certification would be submitted by the Owner/Operator and would include the following:
1. Verification that financial responsibility obligations have been met;
2. Verification that all testing requirements for leak detection, spill and overfill prevention and
protection, tank monitoring and corrosion protection have been met;
3. Verification that all reporting and record keeping obligations have been met;
4. Verification that emergency procedures are posted and up-to-date;
5. Verification that cathodic protection readings have been taken and recorded as per the
regulations, if applicable;
6. Verification that all Class A, B and C operators are certified;
7. Verification that all monthly and semi-annual inspections have been conducted and that all
necessary repairs have been completed within 30 days of the discovery of the need for a repair or
replacement. Verification that UST components and configuration of the UST system have not
changed. If the UST system has changed, completion and submission of an amended
registration form to the Department.
The ERP certification does not require an inspection, but rather is a certification that verifies that the
required inspections have been properly conducted and that the UST system is in compliance with other
key components of the regulations. Therefore, the ERP certification does not take the place of a monthly
or semi-annual inspection.
Roles and Obligations of MassDEP Inspectors
As the implementing agency, MassDEP has an important role to play in inspecting UST facilities. In
accordance with the Federal Grant Guidelines, MassDEP must be capable of conducting audits of third-
party inspections, following up on complaints, conducting inspections to evaluate a facility’s return to
compliance, and taking appropriate enforcement actions. MassDEP must also conduct inspections as
part of its on-going program of reviewing general environmental compliance with the UST regulations and
providing EPA with information on Significant Operational Compliance with specific EPA requirements as
required by the Grant Guidelines. Within the limits of available resources, MassDEP will conduct
sufficient inspections to meet EPA guidelines and sufficient third-party inspection audits to ensure a
quality third-party inspection program.
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