Volume 1, Number 8
eMDE is a monthly publication of the Maryland Department of the Environment. It covers articles on current environmental issues and events in the state. Additional monthly features include: MDE public meetings and hearings schedule, enforcement and compliance notes, and permitting activity.
By Richard McIntire
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The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is proposing a specialized tank inspection program, designed to protect groundwater resources and public health from the release of chemicals stored in underground storage systems.
“Maryland has responded to several high profile groundwater contamination cases within the state,” said Kendl P. Philbrick, MDE secretary. “We’ve required the Oil Control Program to review storage tank procedures and recommend new leak prevention measures. As a result of the review, an increased inspection program was proposed and accepted."
Safeguarding Our Citizens
“The release of products from underground storage tanks is a national concern,” added Philbrick. “By moving forward with this inspection program Maryland will provide additional safeguards to our citizens and the environment.”
Beginning in January 2006, motor oil-holding underground storage system owners will be required, upon MDE notification, to have the storage system inspected by a certified private inspector. Private inspectors are certified by MDE after they pass an intense training period and a MDE authored test. “We want the best qualified people available performing these rigorous inspections,” said Thomas Walter, Chief of Compliance for MDE’s Oil Control Program.
Certified Inspectors Assure Protection
Under the program, an inspector visits the storage tank facility and completes a detailed site inspection form provided by MDE. The inspector will evaluate items such as tank and piping release detection, overfill/spill prevention, or system corrosion protection, as well as facility housekeeping and other compliance concerns. The certified inspector will be allowed to perform repairs and instruct the tank owner on achieving and maintaining compliance and preventing releases. After initial inspection, follow-up inspections must occur every three years to confirm continued compliance with Maryland regulations. All actions are reported back to MDE. Facilities may be subject to more detailed audits from Oil Control Program compliance staff.
The Oil Control Program worked with a group of tank owners, installers, and testers to develop the inspection form and protocols. “Maryland has developed one of the most stringent inspection programs in the nation,” Walter added. “It will take a full day to perform a proper inspection at the average gasoline service station.” The costs of the inspections are predicted to range from $200 to $400 per site and will be borne by tank owners.
With the private inspection program, MDE predicts more than 120 private inspectors will be certified with the department. Those 120 inspectors will be able to visit and inspect UST facilities on an average every 2 to 3 years. MDE inspectors will be relieved of standard inspections and will be able to focus on problem facilities, audits of the private force and other pressing Oil Control Program duties.
Maryland continues to be in the forefront in protections related to underground storage tanks. This inspection program is just another example of MDE forging the path for other regulatory agencies across the nation to follow
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