Chemicals, Special Topics in Environmental Management

USTs: Tips for Closing Tanks


Here’s how you close your UST properly.

Closing Temporarily

You may temporarily close your UST for up to 12 months by following these requirements for temporary closure:

  • Continue to monitor for leaks by maintaining the UST’s leak detection. (If your UST is empty, you do not need to maintain leak detection.) Also, continue to monitor and maintain any corrosion protection systems. If a release is discovered, quickly stop the release, notify your regulatory authority, and take appropriate action to clean up the site.
  • If the UST remains temporarily closed for more than 3 months, leave vent lines open, but cap and secure all other lines, pumps, manways, and ancillary equipment.

After 12 months of temporary closure, you have three options:

  1. You must permanently close your UST if it doesn’t meet the applicable requirements for new or upgraded USTs (except for spill and overfill).
  2. You can ask your regulatory authority for an extension beyond 12 months, if you provide an assessment that determines whether contamination is present at your site.
  3. Your UST can remain temporarily closed without needing an extension granted by the regulatory authority if the UST meets the applicable requirements for new or upgraded USTs (except for spill and overfill) and the requirements noted above for temporary closure.

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Closing Permanently

If you decide to close your UST permanently, follow these requirements for permanent closure:

  • Notify the regulatory authority at least 30 days before you close your UST.
  • Determine if contamination from your UST is present in the surrounding environment using the results of monthly vapor or groundwater monitoriong or a site assessment.If there is contamination, the UST owner or operator must take corrective action.

For at least 3 years after completion of permanent closure, keep records demonstrating compliance with closure requirements and a record of the excavation assessment you take to determine if contamination is present at the site (or you can mail these records to your regulatory authority).

Either remove the UST from the ground or leave it in the ground. In both cases, the tank must be emptied and cleaned by removing all liquids, dangerous vapor levels, and accumulated sludge. These potentially very hazardous actions must be carried out by trained professionals who follow standard safety practices. If you leave the UST in the ground, have it filled with a harmless, chemically inactive solid, like sand.

Don’t forget to check with your state agency for state-specific  closure requirements.


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Tips for Safe Closure

People who do not follow standard safety practices are killed or injured every year while closing or removing tanks. For a safe closure, you need qualified professionals who will use standard saf

  • Ask other tank owners who have closed tanks to recommend contractors they have used.
  • Look closely at the contractors’ qualifications and experience to make sure you are satisfied with both.
  • Get references from the contractor.