Community Engagement and the Underground Storage Tank Program
Community engagement at underground storage tank (UST) sites varies and is dependent on many factors including site location; severity of the release; impact to the drinking water supply; or impact to the local community or environment. Many UST releases involve relatively minor or no groundwater contamination and communities may choose not to be involved in cleanup decisions; however, some releases may have significant impacts on communities. Also, if the site is to be redeveloped or reused, communities may participate in planning and determining reuse options.
Except for UST systems located on Indian lands, states and territories are the primary implementers of the UST program within their boundaries. Federal UST regulations require that states and territories provide notice about corrective action plans (CAP), make site release information and decisions on the CAP available upon request, and hold public meetings if necessary. Additional public notice is required if cleanup levels are not achieved or termination of the CAP is considered.
Many states and territories engage with communities above what is required in the federal regulations.
As of September 2020, there are approximately 544,000 underground storage tanks nationwide that store petroleum or hazardous substances. The greatest potential threat from a leaking UST is contamination of groundwater, the source of drinking water for approximately half of all Americans. EPA, states, territories, and tribes work together to protect human health and the environment from potential UST releases.
Community Engagement Resources
The EPA and state underground storage tank (UST) resources below may be useful when you conduct community engagement at UST sites. EPA welcomes your input and suggestions. We will periodically update these resources when we have more information.
Federal Requirements for Public Participation
- Regulations Pertaining to Underground Storage Tanks (40 CFR Part 280)
- Public Participation provisions 280.67 Subpart F - 280.60-280.67 - "Release Response and Corrective Action for UST Systems Containing Petroleum or Hazardous Substances"
- LUST Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement Guidelines
Guidelines for Tailoring Community Engagement Activities to Circumstances
- Indiana: Citizens Guide to Underground Storage Tanks (PDF) Exit (3 pp, 135 K, About PDF)
- Maryland: Public Participation Guide Citizen Handbook (PDF) Exit (37 pp, 1.6 MB, About PDF)
- Fact Sheet: Vapor Intrusion & Indoor Air Contamination from Waste Sites Exit
- Contingency Plan Fact Sheet: Public Involvement In Site Cleanup (PDF) Exit (4 pp, 40 K, About PDF)
- Cleanup Program Fact Sheet: Opportunities for Public Involvement in Preliminary Response Actions Exit
- Michigan: DNRE Public Involvement Handbook (PDF) Exit (28 pp, 463 K, About PDF)
- New Jersey:
- New Jersey Site Remediation Program's Community Relations Overview Exit Provides comprehensive information covering all sites under the Site Remediation Program, including LUSTs
- New Jersey Public Notification and Outreach Guidance Exit Provides links for specific guidance regarding notification signs and letters
State Contacts: Contact information for state and territorial UST/LUST programs