EPA Issues Final E15/B20 UST Compatibility Guidelines | NACS Online – Media – News Archive
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EPA Issues Final E15/B20 UST Compatibility Guidelines

The agency outlines final compliance guidelines for UST owners and operators storing gasoline greater than E10.
June 29, 2011

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued compatibility guidelines on Tuesday for owners and operators who are storing gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol or diesel containing more than 20 percent biodiesel in their UST systems.

On December 17, 2010, NACS and SIGMA submitted comments regarding the legal, environmental and practical obstacles for storing and dispensing E15. NACS did not believe that the proposed guidelines would satisfy many existing laws and regulations.

NACS commented that if retailers were to store E15 in systems that are not certified as compatible with that fuel, they could expose themselves to a multitude of legal difficulties, which could threaten the future of their businesses. Absent certification, retailers could be held in violation of:

  • State UST regulations that require UL certification (Massachusetts, for instance, announced that storing E15 in a legacy tank will not be permissible);

  • Occupational Safety and Health Act regulations;

  • State UST insurance policies;

  • Local fire codes; and

  • The terms of their mortgage or other loan agreements, which routinely include compliance-with-law provisions.

The compliancy guidelines issued yesterday by EPA cite "acceptable methods" for owners and operators to demonstrate compatibility:

  • Use components that are certified or listed by a nationally recognized, independent testing laboratory (for example, Underwriters Laboratories) for use with the fuel stored;

  • Use components approved by the manufacturer to be compatible with the fuel stored. EPA considers acceptable forms of manufacturer approvals to:

    • Be in writing;

    • Indicate an affirmative statement of compatibility;

    • Specify the range of biofuel blends the component is compatible with; and

    • Be from the equipment manufacturer, not another entity (such as the installer or distributor); or

  • Use another method determined by the implementing agency to sufficiently protect human health and the environment. EPA will work with states as they evaluate other acceptable methods.

Owners and operators are allowed to use the 2nd edition of the American Petroleum Institute€™s (API) Recommended Practice 1626 to meet the compatibility requirement for ethanol-blended fuels. The original version applies to up to 10 percent ethanol blended with gasoline and is not applicable.

EPA notes that state UST program regulations may be more stringent than the federal UST regulations, and that UST system owners and operators may be subject to other federal, state or local regulatory requirements (i.e., Occupational Safety and Health Administration, National Fire Prevention Association and International Fire Code), and that UST owners and operators should check with their state and local agencies to determine other requirements.

"NACS is generally supportive of the provisions in the final guidelines issued by EPA," said John Eichberger, NACS vice president of government relations. "Without alternative methods for determining the compatibility of equipment with new fuels, there is no alternative for retailers but to replace equipment at significant cost €" even if that equipment is technically compatible with the new fuel.

"However, the guidelines do not provide the legal protection retailers need to move into new fuels without replacing equipment," he continued. "That is why NACS is pursuing legislation that will give these guidelines the legal authority necessary to ensure retailers are compliant with applicable laws and regulations."

Eichberger continued that additional changes to the guidelines may be required once NACS-supported legislation is enacted because those issued today apply only to underground storage tank equipment, not dispensers. Given the significant issues surround dispenser compatibility it is critical that guidelines be developed to give retailers the ability to have existing dispensers recertified.