ECS Eclipse News

Facility inspections and possible NOVs (Notice of Violation)

June 18, 2012 (comments: 0)

More than likely you will be visited by a state inspector to determine if your site is in compliance with petroleum storage tank regulations.  Usually these inspections will be based upon multiple factors such as the last time your site was inspected, whether there may have been complaints from the public concerning your operations, whether previous inspection identified deficiencies and violations were recorded. Sometimes inspections will be triggered by information in their database that doesn’t seem to be consistent with other data sources.

Regardless, you should always expect that an inspection will take place.

The majority of Inspections will happen unannounced as they hope to observe your facility in “normal conditions”.

Inspectors will look for conformance to their state’s rules and regulations. So first of all, it is important that you are familiar with these regulations and implement their requirements.  In almost all cases, no two state’s UST/AST compliance program will look alike.

Typically, inspections will go rather quickly if your site is in good operating condition, good recordkeeping showing all required permits, testing and inspection records and your release detection records from your ATG (automatic tank monitor). Inventory reconciliation reports should be completely filled, reconciled and organized,  easy to understand with no indications of failures or out of variance. If these records show such over/shorts conditions, the inspector will ask the person at the site what follow up investigation was performed and the results of such investigations.

Inspectors are much more savvy as it relates to ATG equipment then given credit for.  Most inspectors know how to print out historic alarms from the ATG and are now requesting the operator to provide detail information as to each alarm condition identified during their inspections as well as what was the outcome of these alarms. You should have documentation logged and showing the follow up activities.

During the inspection, they will also walk around your site and if your operations routinely handle hazardous material, they will want to make certain the areas are clean and dry, and to make sure hazardous waste labels are in place.

To maintain a good presence to regulators, the following suggestions will help you to stay out of trouble with the inspectors.

1.      Perform routine inspections by yourself or your personnel to look for obvious problems.

2.      Make sure you correct deficiencies in a timely manner and show documentation of such activities.

3.      Make certain you are performing all requirements for UST testing and all required release detection monitoring.

4.      If your operation is creating waste, make sure proper housekeeping is in order with proper signs and make certain you have waste manifests available.

5.      Recordkeeping is key! Make certain you have all necessary permits, testing reports, ATG printouts, Inventory Reconciliation reports, maintenance records and now, many states are and will require personnel are properly trained.

6.      Make certain you understand all regulatory requirements as ignorance of the rules will never be an acceptable response to the inspector.

7.      All states now require notification of release conditions. Having a notification log on site would verify compliance to the inspector

8.      If an inspector asks you a question concerning any aspect of compliance, don’t just reply with vague nonsensical replies. Inspectors are very savvy in determining if you know what you are doing or if this is just a smoke screen. You are better off to be honest and promise to follow up with their request vs. whatever comes to your mind at the moment.

Let’s face it, it is really difficult to be in 100% compliance at all times. More than likely you will receive a Notice of Violation (NOV) or a Request for Information (RFI). Many are minor in nature and a simple follow up with the Agency will resolve general NOVs. However serious violations of non compliance can escalate into fines and penalties with possibilities of your system being “Red Tagged” (UST system shut down) and potentially escalating into serious Consent Orders. Many states have rules in their pollution cleanup fund linked to the compliance status for your site. This means you may be denied clean up funding should your site not be in compliance.

With the August 2012 requirements for UST Operator Training requirements, many states are requiring phase in of the Class B operator performing monthly inspections.

Currently in New England, you have Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, requiring a fairly extensive compliance inspection monthly.

Most states have recommended inspection checklists and once performed they must be made available at the site.

Contact ECS Eclipse should you need to obtain a copy of these inspection forms or if you are looking for a third party inspector to perform these inspections.

In Closing, state inspections can be managed with positive results if you implement the old adage 'An ounce of prevention creates a pound of cure'.


-Joel Hershey, Director

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