Leaks of hazardous chemicals from underground storage tanks are becoming less common in Iowa, according to the supervisor of the Underground Storage Tanks (UST) division of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Elaine Douskey credits several new provisions enacted within the last few years, including a federal law which allows states to cut off fuel deliveries to gas stations that are out of compliance with UST regulations. “It’s kind of a quick way to take enforcement without going through the long legal process,” Douskey says. “It’s a very effective in getting people back into compliance.”
In addition, Iowa adopted a provision which requires new tank systems to have a secondary containment unit. “The simplest way I explain this…is it’s a tank inside a tank,” Douskey says. “You can have a release and not have it be a leak into the environment.”
Around 40 to 50 leaks from underground tanks are reported around the state every year, according to Douskey. The Environmental Professionals of Iowa Fall Symposium is taking place tonight and tomorrow in Johnston. The featured speaker will be Carolyn Hoskinson, Director of the Office of Underground Storage Tanks for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Douskey says Hoskinson’s first ever visit to the state as director coincides with the 25th anniversary of the creation of the EPA’s Office of Underground Storage Tanks. The EPA is also set to roll out new regulations dealing with the tanks next year. “It’s kind of a bench mark point in our program and the nation’s program to take a look at where we’ve been, where we’ve come, and how we make improvements,” Douskey says.
Hoskinson’s is scheduled to speak at a luncheon tomorrow. She began her career with the EPA in 1991 and became Director of the Office of Underground Storage Tanks in 2009.