United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Dec 07, 2023
The Administrator, after notice and opportunity for public comment, and at least three months before the effective dates specified in subsection (f), shall promulgate release detection, prevention, and correction regulations applicable to all owners and operators of underground storage tanks, as may be necessary to protect human health and the environment.
In promulgating regulations under this section, the Administrator may distinguish between types, classes, and ages of underground storage tanks. In making such distinctions, the Administrator may take into consideration factors, including, but not limited to: location of the tanks, soil and climate conditions, uses of the tanks, history of maintenance, age of the tanks, current industry recommended practices, national consensus codes, hydrogeology, water table, size of the tanks, quantity of regulated substances periodically deposited in or dispensed from the tank, the technical capability of the owners and operators, and the compatibility of the regulated substance and the materials of which the tank is fabricated.
The Administrator shall, not later than three months prior to the effective date specified in subsection (f), issue performance standards for underground storage tanks brought into use on or after the effective date of such standards. The performance standards for new underground storage tanks shall include, but need not be limited to, design, construction, installation, release detection, and compatibility standards.
The Administrator (or a State pursuant to paragraph (7)) shall give priority in undertaking corrective actions under this subsection, and in issuing orders requiring owners or operators to undertake such actions, to releases of petroleum from underground storage tanks which pose the greatest threat to human health and the environment.
The Administrator is authorized to issue orders to the owner or operator of an underground storage tank to carry out subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) or to carry out regulations issued under subsection (c)(4). A State acting pursuant to paragraph (7) of this subsection is authorized to carry out subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) only until the State’s program is approved by the Administrator under section 6991c of this title. Such orders shall be issued and enforced in the same manner and subject to the same requirements as orders under section 6991e of this title.
The corrective actions undertaken by the Administrator (or a State pursuant to paragraph (7)) under paragraph (1) or (2) may include temporary or permanent relocation of residents and alternative household water supplies. In connection with the performance of any corrective action under paragraph (1) or (2), the Administrator may undertake an exposure assessment as defined in paragraph (10) of this subsection or provide for such an assessment in a cooperative agreement with a State pursuant to paragraph (7) of this subsection. The costs of any such assessment may be treated as corrective action for purposes of paragraph (6), relating to cost recovery.
Whenever costs have been incurred by the Administrator, or by a State pursuant to paragraph (7), for undertaking corrective action or enforcement action with respect to the release of petroleum from an underground storage tank, the owner or operator of such tank shall be liable to the Administrator or the State for such costs. The liability under this paragraph shall be construed to be the standard of liability which obtains under section 1321 of title 33.
In determining the equities for seeking the recovery of costs under subparagraph (A), the Administrator (or a State pursuant to paragraph (7) of this subsection) may consider the amount of financial responsibility required to be maintained under subsections (c) and (d)(5) of this section and the factors considered in establishing such amount under subsection (d)(5).
No indemnification, hold harmless, or similar agreement or conveyance shall be effective to transfer from the owner or operator of any underground storage tank or from any person who may be liable for a release or threat of release under this subsection, to any other person the liability imposed under this subsection. Nothing in this subsection shall bar any agreement to insure, hold harmless, or indemnify a party to such agreement for any liability under this section.
Nothing in this subsection, including the provisions of clause (i) of this subparagraph, shall bar a cause of action that an owner or operator or any other person subject to liability under this section, or a guarantor, has or would have, by reason of subrogation or otherwise against any person.
For purposes of this paragraph, the term “facility” means, with respect to any owner or operator, all underground storage tanks used for the storage of petroleum which are owned or operated by such owner or operator and located on a single parcel of property (or on any contiguous or adjacent property).
In determining the level of recovery effort, or amount that should be recovered, the Administrator (or the State pursuant to paragraph (7)) shall consider the owner or operator’s ability to pay. An inability or limited ability to pay corrective action costs must be demonstrated to the Administrator (or the State pursuant to paragraph (7)) by the owner or operator.
In determining whether or not a demonstration is made under clause (i), the Administrator (or the State pursuant to paragraph (7)) shall take into consideration the ability of the owner or operator to pay corrective action costs and still maintain its basic business operations, including consideration of the overall financial condition of the owner or operator and demonstrable constraints on the ability of the owner or operator to raise revenues.
An owner or operator requesting consideration under this subparagraph shall promptly provide the Administrator (or the State pursuant to paragraph (7)) with all relevant information needed to determine the ability of the owner or operator to pay corrective action costs.
The Administrator (or the State pursuant to paragraph (7)) shall consider alternative payment methods as may be necessary or appropriate if the Administrator (or the State pursuant to paragraph (7)) determines that an owner or operator cannot pay all or a portion of the costs in a lump sum payment.
If an owner or operator provides false information or otherwise misrepresents their financial situation under clause (ii), the Administrator (or the State pursuant to paragraph (7)) shall seek full recovery of the costs of all such actions pursuant to the provisions of subparagraph (A) without consideration of the factors in subparagraph (B).
Following the effective date of the regulations under subsection (c) of this section, the State shall pay 10 per centum of the cost of corrective actions undertaken either by the Administrator or by the State under a cooperative agreement, except that the Administrator may take corrective action at a facility where immediate action is necessary to respond to an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health or the environment if the State fails to pay the cost share.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Administrator may authorize the use of such emergency procurement powers as he deems necessary.
As used in this subchapter, the terms “owner” and “operator” do not include a person that, without participating in the management of an underground storage tank and otherwise not engaged in petroleum production, refining, or marketing, holds indicia of ownership primarily to protect the person’s security interest.
The provisions regarding holders of security interests in subparagraphs (E) through (G) of section 9601(20) of this title and the provisions regarding fiduciaries at section 9607(n) of this title shall apply in determining a person’s liability as an owner or operator of an underground storage tank for the purposes of this subchapter.
Nothing in subparagraph (B) shall be construed as modifying or affecting the final rule issued by the Administrator on
As used in this subsection, the term “exposure assessment” means an assessment to determine the extent of exposure of, or potential for exposure of, individuals to petroleum from a release from an underground storage tank based on such factors as the nature and extent of contamination and the existence of or potential for pathways of human exposure (including ground or surface water contamination, air emissions, and food chain contamination), the size of the community within the likely pathways of exposure, and the comparison of expected human exposure levels to the short-term and long-term health effects associated with identified contaminants and any available recommended exposure or tolerance limits for such contaminants. Such assessment shall not delay corrective action to abate immediate hazards or reduce exposure.
At any facility where the owner or operator has failed to maintain evidence of financial responsibility in amounts at least equal to the amounts established by subsection (d)(5)(A) of this section (or a lesser amount if such amount is applicable to such facility as a result of subsection (d)(5)(B) of this section) for whatever reason the Administrator shall expend no monies from the Trust Fund to clean up releases at such facility pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection. At such facilities the Administrator shall use the authorities provided in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) and paragraph (4) of this subsection and section 6991e of this title to order corrective action to clean up such releases. States acting pursuant to paragraph (7) of this subsection shall use the authorities provided in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) and paragraph (4) of this subsection to order corrective action to clean up such releases. Notwithstanding the provisions of this paragraph, the Administrator may use monies from the fund to take the corrective actions authorized by paragraph (5) of this subsection to protect human health at such facilities and shall seek full recovery of the costs of all such actions pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (6)(A) of this subsection and without consideration of the factors in paragraph (6)(B) of this subsection. Nothing in this paragraph shall prevent the Administrator (or a State pursuant to paragraph (7) of this subsection) from taking corrective action at a facility where there is no solvent owner or operator or where immediate action is necessary to respond to an imminent and substantial endangerment of human health or the environment.
The Administrator and the States may use funds made available under section 6991m(2)(B) of this title to carry out corrective actions with respect to a release of a fuel containing an oxygenated fuel additive that presents a threat to human health or welfare or the environment.
The Administrator or a State shall carry out subparagraph (A) in accordance with paragraph (2), and in the case of a State, in accordance with a cooperative agreement entered into by the Administrator and the State under paragraph (7).
A person that manufactures an underground storage tank or piping for an underground storage tank system or that installs an underground storage tank system is required to maintain evidence of financial responsibility under subsection (d) in order to provide for the costs of corrective actions directly related to releases caused by improper manufacture or installation unless the person can demonstrate themselves 1
Nothing in subparagraph (A) alters or affects the liability of any owner or operator of an underground storage tank.
The Administrator may award to a State that develops a report described in paragraph (1), in addition to any other funds that the State is entitled to receive under this subchapter, not more than $50,000, to be used to carry out the report.
This subsection does not relieve any person from any obligation or requirement under this subchapter.