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Facilities Planning

Fuel Tank Projects


Reference Guide #C.09

Projects involving the replacement, removal, or closing of petroleum fuel storage tanks must be approved by the Commissioner of Education, regardless of the total estimated cost of the project.

Department of Environmental Conservation Regulations, Part 614, requires that any person installing or substantially modifying a petroleum storage facility must notify the authority responsible for enforcement of the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and must apply for a building permit. For school districts and BOCES, this means the Education Department, Office of Facilities Planning. In addition, the fire code enforcement official must be given a copy of the facility registration certificate issued by ENCON; again, this means the Office. The section of the regulations specifying these requirements is as follows:

614.7 Installation of Underground Facilities(c) Notification of code enforcement official

  1. Any person installing a new storage facility or substantially modifying a facility must apply to the authority responsible for enforcement of the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code for any building permit required by such authority prior to commencement of installation.
  2. In addition, any person installing a new storage facility or substantially modifying a facility must give at least twenty-four (24) hours' notice to the local building or fire code enforcement official prior to the commencement of excavation, testing for tightness, and backfilling. The building or fire code enforcement official shall also be given a copy of the permanent facility registration certificate as issued by the department under section 612.2 of this title. If a permanent certificate has not been issued, a copy of the temporary certificate shall be supplied to the enforcement official in its place.

Based on these regulations and the fact that these projects have the potential to affect public health, the State Education Department will require a full, formal submission, including a copy of the registration certificate, whenever a school district or BOCES undertakes work on an underground fuel storage tank.

There are basically three types of projects involving fuel storage tanks:

  1. Replacement of an old underground tank with a new underground tank must meet the following standards:
    • NYS/ENCON Petroleum Bulk Storage (PBS) Regulations - 6NYCRR Part 614 - All storage facilities (stationary tanks) that have a combined storage capacity of over 1,100 gallons of petroleum at the same site.
    • A petroleum tank contains heating oil, diesel fuel, gasoline, or waste oil which is burned as fuel on the premises EPA/Federal Underground Storage Tank (UST) Regulations - 40 CFR Section 280.20.
    • Tank size is over 110 gallons capacity not located at PBS facilities (i.e., those with a combined storage capacity of over 1,100 gallons in stationary tanks).
    • A petroleum tank contains gasoline, diesel fuel, or waste oil which is stored for collection.
    • Tanks which are regulated under both the State PBS and Federal UST Regulations include:
      • Gasoline and diesel fuel tanks which are located at PBS facilities (i.e., those with a combined storage capacity of over 1,100 gallons in stationary tanks)
      • Tanks must be made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic, or steel, which is cathodically protected, or steel which is clad with an outer shell of fiberglass-reinforced plastic. It is unlawful to install a bare steel tank for underground storage of petroleum products.
      • A barrier must be installed under each tank to provide secondary containment of any leaks. The barrier must hold any product long enough to be detected by the leak monitoring system. The type of secondary containment system chosen depends on whether the tank is installed in an area of high or low groundwater and in permeable or impermeable soil.
      • A leak monitoring well or sensor to detect petroleum must be installed. The system may consist of a 4-inch plastic pipe which can be checked weekly for petroleum odors or a sophisticated electronic system which detects leaks and triggers an alarm.
      • New tanks must be installed with equipment that either warns of an impending overflow or shuts off the flow automatically. Tanks must also be equipped with a spill catchment basin at the fill port so that any product remaining in the hose when a delivery is made can be drained back into the tank.
      • Underground pipes must be made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic or cathodically protected iron or steel; and must be installed so as to permit leak testing without extensive excavation. Pressured piping connected to tanks which are regulated under the Federal UST regulations must have devices to automatically shut off or restrict the flow or have an alarm that indicates a leak. Suction piping connected to federally regulated tanks may require leak detection devices, depending on the design. Below-grade suction piping which is sloped so that the contents will drain back into the tank if the suction is broken, or has only one check valve in each suction line which is located directly below the suction pump does not require leak detection.
      • Tanks must bear a permanent stencil, label, or plate that contains the manufacturer's statement that "This tank conforms with 6 NYCRR Part 614." The label must also show the tank number, capacity, and dimensions, the name of the manufacturer, the standard of design, and the date of installation.
      • Tanks built and installed according to regulations should have a service life of more than 30 years. Proper installation is extremely important because if tank coatings are damaged or if tanks and pipes are installed with improper bedding, the system can fail and the product can leak into the environment.
  2. Removal of an old tank from the ground with no replacement.  Tanks that are federally regulated also require that a site assessment be performed, by the tank owner or operators, to check for contamination. These projects may also involve excavation because the old tank leaked product into the surrounding soil. The excavation and disposal of contaminated soil, as well as the disposal of the old tank, can drive up the cost of this project. The State Education Department would expect to receive specifications as part of a submission where the removal is considered as site work in a capital construction project.
  3. Closing of an old tank in place. Districts may decide to permanently close an underground tank by filling it completely with an inert material such as sand or concrete slurry after removal of any product and sludge, cleaning the inside of the tank and rendering it vapor-free. Tanks that are federally regulated also require that a site assessment be performed to check for contamination.

Underground petroleum storage tanks are part of a building system. The replacement, removal, or closing of a leaking tank or one that has the potential for leaking is required by regulation, and tanks that are leaking are a danger to public health.

Projects involving petroleum storage tanks are eligible for building aid if the total cost of the project is over $10,000 and the tank is part of the building system of a building that has pupil capacity or a bus garage. When a project entails only the removal or closure of a tank without replacement, the district or BOCES must submit a written explanation or justification for such action. Costs associated with investigation and/or testing and similar "up front" activities may be included as incidental costs to an approved fuel storage tank construction or reconstruction project.

Projects involving replacement, closure, or removal are not emergencies. When a leak is discovered, the Department of Environmental Conservation must be notified within two hours of discovery. The tank must be promptly emptied of the product, (promptly is considered by ENCON to be within 48 hours) and then the district may proceed with replacement, removal, or closure in a routine manner; i.e., hiring an architect or engineer, obtaining a SED project control number, submitting plans and specifications, obtaining a building permit, etc.

Questions regarding petroleum bulk storage should be directed to the Helpline at (800) 242-4351.