Report: Some 43% of Florida’s USTs Non-Compliant

More than 40% of South Florida’s underground fuel storage tanks don’t comply with a state law requiring gas stations and other owners to upgrade their facilities, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

Approved by Florida legislators more than 18 years ago, the law requires underground fuel storage tanks to have a double-walled system by 2009 to help prevent leaks that could contaminate soil or groundwater.

The report found that 43% (11,168) of the state’s 26,529 underground fuel tanks do not use the proper storage system. The old-style tanks have single walls that don’t protect against leaks.

“Industry experts said thousands of gas stations could be forced out of business if they fail to meet the Dec. 31, 2009, deadline,” the newspaper reported.

Many gas station owners told the newspaper they can’t afford to install the systems, which cost $250,000 to $400,000.

In South Florida, 1,851 reported leaks have been approved for state cleanup funding since 1990, with 143 of those sites reporting more than one spill, according to state data obtained by the newspaper.

State officials said thousands of additional leaks have been reported over the past 18 years, and some contaminated sites end up taking years to fix. More than 75% of the state’s underground storage tanks are owned by gasoline retailers, while about 23% belong to government agencies, hospitals, businesses and marinas with tanks that store gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene, the newspaper reported.

State regulators could issue a $10,000 daily fine for storage tank owners who miss the 2009 deadline, refuse to meet the requirements or are not able to show that the work has been contracted.

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