The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) proposed changes to update and consolidate its petroleum bulk storage (“PBS”) and chemical bulk storage (“CBS”) regulations.  These changes will affect as many as 40,000 facilities in the state.  The DEC contends that its proposed regulations will make compliance easier and cheaper.  

New York’s current regulations date back to 1985, when the DEC promulgated PBS regulations that required owners to register storage facilities and comply with safety rules for storage and handling of petroleum.  These regulations have not been substantively revised since then.  

Goals of Proposed Regulations

The proposed regulations have several goals. The first goal is to update the rules to incorporate changes in state and federal laws, in particular, rules relating to tank operator training and deliveries to leaking or non-complaint tank systems.  The second goal is to consolidate the CBS and PBS requirements for easier compliance.  The third goal is to make the PBS regulations consistent with federal regulations.

DEC’s proposal repeals 6 NYCRR Parts 612-614 and replaces them with a new Part 613, which consolidates existing state and federal regulations for underground storage tanks (“USTs”).   This proposed rule adds operator training, prohibits deliveries to leaking or non-compliant tanks and adds secondary containment requirements for piping and dispensers.  The proposed changes update the DEC’s used oil management regulations, found in 6 NYCRR § 374-2.  These proposed changes make the state used oil regulations consistent with current federal requirements and amends the used oil acceptance requirements for certain retail and gasoline service stations. The proposed changes to the CBS regulations (6 NYCRR Parts 595 through 599) consolidate state and federal requirements, add operator training requirements, and prohibit deliveries of hazardous substances to leaking or non-compliant tanks.   

Proposed Regulations – UST Operators

DEC’s proposed operator training policy for UST operators at PBS and CBS facilities uses three categories of operators, “Class A Operators,” “Class B Operators,” and “Class C Operators.” A Class A Operator is an individual who has primary responsibility for the operation and maintenance of a UST system; a Class B Operator is an individual who has day-to-day responsibility for implementing the applicable requirements; and a Class C Operator is an employee who has primary responsibility for addressing emergencies related to a spill or release from a UST system.

Class A and Class B operators have to pass an exam administered by the DEC or must obtain an operator training credential issued by any other state government or a local government within New York.  The exam is supposed to emphasize tank system basics, overfill prevention, tank leak detection, piping leak detection, corrosion protection and related testing, spill containment, UST system recordkeeping, and operation and maintenance.  It also will cover tank registration, financial responsibility, temporary/permanent tank closure, inventory control, dispensers, spill reporting and response actions, product and equipment compatibility, and training of Class C Operators.

Class A, Class B, or combination Class A/B operators will be required to be re-authorized or replaced if the DEC finds “significant non-compliance” (“SNC”) at a facility.   SNC includes a tank system that is not properly equipped with corrosion protection, spill prevention, overfill prevention, or leak detection.  Improper monitoring of tank contents also falls within SNC. 

Final Rule – Timing

The comment period for these proposed rule changes ended on Tuesday, November 4, 2014.  The final rule is expected to be issued in the second half of 2015.