The Georgia Underground Storage Tank Act – O.C.G.A. 12-13-1 et seq.

 

 

 

The Georgia Underground Storage Act provides a comprehensive program to prevent, detect, and correct releases from underground storage tanks (“USTs”) of “regulated substances” other than hazardous wastes governed by the RCRA regulations. The regulations provide design, construction, installation, and operating standards for new USTs, a schedule for upgrading existing USTs, release detection methods for new USTs, and a phase-in of such methods for existing USTs. Notification and record keeping are required, as is reporting and correction of releases. Procedures for removal or abandonment of USTs are governed on a local level, usually by the local Fire Marshall.

 

Under Rule 391-3-15-.13 of the Georgia Rules for Underground Storage Tank Management (GUST Rules), the GUST Trust Fund will provide, to participating owners and operators, coverage for corrective action necessitated by releases from petroleum product USTs. An UST owner or operator conducting corrective action, either through a hired contractor or through the State Contractor, is entitled to reimbursement of reasonable costs from the GUST Trust Fund, in accordance with provisions of the GUST Act and the GUST Rules.  The regulations establishing technical standards for USTs emphasize leak prevention, detection, and corrective action.

Under the authorities in RCRA Section 9005 and Section 9006, Agency enforcement personnel may take the following actions in response to a violation of the technical regulations:

  • Information request letters – to verify an alleged violation;
  • Initial responses – to notify the owner/operator and encourage voluntary compliance;
  • Administrative actions – to compel compliance through administrative orders; and
  • Judicial actions – to compel compliance through judicial orders.

 

Under subtitle I of RCRA, there is an opportunity for a hearing where an order is issued.  The field citation has been designed as a compliance order and short-form settlement agreement.  The field citation compliance order is not an adjudicatory proceeding under 40 CFR Part 22. The violator has no right to a hearing under Part 22, since those procedures have not been invoked through issuance of a field citation. Violators who accept the terms of the settlement offer will have expressly waived their rights to a public hearing under § 9006 of RCRA. If the violator does not accept the settlement offer, the compliance order is withdrawn and judicial action is sought.

 

Christopher R. Reeves, EPD, EPA, Georgia, Environmental, attorney, litigator, litigation, water, pollution, lawyer, finley, law, firm, regulations, administrative, climate change, esq, toxic, land

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