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What You Should Know About Storage Tanks at Farms and Residential Properties

March 30, 2023 12:00 PM
By: DEP Staff

​Did you know that aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) and underground storage tanks (USTs) in excess of 1,100 gallons that store motor fuels, such as gasoline, gasohol, both dyed and undyed diesel, and biodiesel located at farms and residential properties are regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)?

Did you know that many aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) in excess of 1,100 gallons that store various fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides located at farms are regulated by DEP?

Did you know that regulated storage tanks must meet technical requirements and must be installed, modified, and removed by a DEP-certified individual?

Old rusty storage tanks

Requirements for farm and residential storage tanks are established under the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act (Act 32 of 1989, as amended). The Act establishes a comprehensive regulatory program for both underground (UST) and aboveground (AST) storage tanks and facilities that store regulated substances (liquid petroleum products and hazardous substances). The Storage Tank Program is administered and enforced by DEP.

The Act defines a farm as land devoted to the production of crops, livestock, and livestock products for commercial purposes, including the production, processing, or retail marketing of crops, livestock, or livestock products. Storage tank regulations define a residential tank as a tank located on property used primarily for dwelling purposes. Common examples of a residence include: a house, an apartment complex, or an assisted living facility.

All storage tanks should be periodically checked for structural integrity, deterioration, and releases for safety reasons and to protect the environment from pollution. By maintaining the tank system's integrity and promptly cleaning up any spills or overfills, the tank owner can reduce the chance of a costly cleanup.

Storage tanks on a farm

Do you have one of these type storage tank systems on your property?  

  1. A 2,000-gallon aboveground storage tank storing dyed diesel fuel that is used to fuel a tractor;
  2. A 300-gallon aboveground storage tank storing kerosene used to thin the diesel fuel in a skid-steer loader;
  3. A 1,250-gallon aboveground storage tank storing diesel fuel to run an emergency generator;
  4. A 1,500-gallon aboveground storage tank storing new motor oil;
  5. A 1,250-gallon aboveground storage tank storing a regulated fertilizer, herbicide, or pesticide; or
  6. A 2,000-gallon underground storage tank storing gasoline or diesel fuel for your own personal vehicles or equipment.

All of these systems are examples of regulated storage tanks that must be properly registered and permitted with DEP. The tank owner, tank operator, and delivery company are all held responsible for compliance with the Act and the Storage Tank regulations.

A storage tank on a farm

Even if you have your storage tank properly registered, it is imperative to ensure the storage tank is installed and operated correctly. For example, regulated aboveground storage tanks must have both secondary and emergency containment to contain any leaks, spills, or overfills.  Common examples of secondary and emergency containment include: a double-walled storage tank, a steel dike, or a concrete containment area.  

Did you know that a 2,000-gallon aboveground storage tank filled with diesel fuel can weigh around 17,000 pounds! That is over four times the weight of an average car.

Installing, modifying, or removing storage tanks in an incorrect manner isn’t just against Storage Tank regulations; it’s downright dangerous!  

If you are uncertain if you have a regulated storage tank or if you have any questions regarding registration or proper installation requirements, please feel free to contact the DEP Storage Tank Program at 717.772.5599 or 1.800.42.TANKS (in PA only).  

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