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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, February 27, 2024


In 1988 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established standards for underground storage tanks and gave owners 10 years to comply. Dec. 22 was the deadline.
The EPA standards require USTs, as they're called, to be leak-proof and to have gauges to control overfilling and indicate spills or leakage. The regulation also requires the tanks to be excavated and a soil survey done to spot any leakage, according to Tuesday's newspapers.
One short-term option is available: Owners can close the tanks by draining all the fuel and closing them while they prepare to excavate and upgrade or close permanently.
Proof is required from an independent contractor that tanks have been properly shut down. Thereafter the owners have one year to complete the upgrade or close the tanks permanently by filling them with sand or other material, according to EPA spokeswoman Nina Habib Spencer.
The V.I. government has closed its tanks to avoid $11,000-a-day fines. But Samuel Baptiste, acting commissioner of Property and Procurement, said his greater concern is the possibility of leaks and the costly process of cleanup.
Cleanup costs are estimated at $125,000.
Spencer said this was the longest compliance deadline in EPA history. It was done to give owners ample time to make the substantial financial investment required to meet the regulations.
The Virgin Islands has 300 active tanks, according to the Independent, and EPA expects at least 70 percent to meet the new standards. Nationally, the EPA expects a compliance rate of about 75 percent at the 1.1 million USTs at more than 400,000 sites.

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