Press Release

BALTIMORE (December 22, 1997) -- The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) reminds owners of underground storage tanks (USTs) that they have one year from today to comply with the federal requirements to replace, upgrade or properly close USTs that store motor fuels, used oil or heating oil for resale.

According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the deadline of December 22, 1998 will not be extended and states do not have the authority to extend it. MDE initiated its program in 1991. "Forty percent of Maryland's population uses groundwater which means that there is a great need to protect this resource from petroleum contamination," said Secretary of MDE Jane T. Nishida. "Thousands of underground storage tank owners have already complied with the law, which was designed to protect human health and the environment. We are now in the last stretch of full implementation of the program."

The old underground storage tanks were constructed of bare steel and generally corrode with time, discharging oil into the environment. The new UST requirements include a corrosion-protected tank and piping system, an early release detection system, and spill and overfill devices. Additionally, UST owners must have environmental insurance or demonstrate financial responsibility to satisfy liability that may result from an oil release.

As a result of the new requirements, Maryland has achieved an 80 percent compliance with federal requirements from an initial inventory of 33,000 tanks in 1986. To lessen the financial burden on UST owners, the Maryland General Assembly enacted a low interest loan program that lends up to $50,000 per site to UST owners to meet the requirements. Approximately $2.8 million has been provided in more than 60 loans since the loan program's inception in 1991.

Senator Arthur Dorman (D-21st), sponsor of the UST law, said "We are pleased to see that we are reaching the conclusion of this program and that the environment will be protected from further petroleum contamination."

Applications for loans can be submitted to MDE until June 30, 1998. Persons interested in the loan program or compliance with the 1998 deadline may contact MDE's Oil Control Program at (410) 631-3442.