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(Updated April 2016)

"An underground storage tank system (UST) is a tank and any underground piping connected to the tank that has at least 10 percent of its combined volume underground. The federal UST regulations apply only to UST systems storing either petroleum or certain hazardous substances."

(Learn About Underground Storage Tanks, (U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mar. 8, 2016).

Until the mid-1980s most underground storage tanks (USTs) were made of bare steel, which is likely to corrode over time and allow UST contents to leak into the environment. The greatest potential hazard from a leaking UST is that its contents (petroleum or other hazardous substances) can seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater, the source of drinking water for nearly half of all Americans.

(Frequent Questions about Underground Storage Tanks, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Dec. 15, 2015)

(H. Hester, Information and Digitization Specialist)


E - EBSCO articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the EBSCO Access Information page.


(Source: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Cleaning Up UST System Releases.”).

Facts About USTs

• The EPA’s recorded 528,521 UST releases since the UST program’s start
• Of the 528,521 reported USTS, the EPA has cleaned up 456,660
• The EPA’s UST program has 71,861 UST sites left to clean up

Source: EPA’s Semiannual Report of UST Performance Measures End of Fiscal Year 2015


The Basics of Underground Storage Tanks  

Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, (Treasury Bulletin, Mar. 2015). E

UST Program Facts (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Dec. 2015). 

The Guide to Underground Storage Tanks for Homeowners, Buyers & Sellers, (Coldwell Banker, Aug. 2014).

Upkeep for USTs, (National Petroleum News, May 2002). E

Insuring your underground storage tanks, (Realty Times, Nov. 24, 2004).

Re-lining underground fuel tanks to protect drinking water, (Realty Times, June 10, 2004).

Soil testing a common step in early stages of a project, (Triangle Business Journal, Apr. 28, 2003).


Information for REALTORS®

What do property values really tell us? A hedonic study of underground storage tanks, (Land Economics, May 2013). E

A Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Environmental Contamination and Positive Amenities on Residential Real Estate Values, (The Journal of Real Estate Research, Jan.-Mar. 2006). E

Surveys, market interviews, and environmental stigma, (The Appraisal Journal, Fall 2004). E

Effect of previous environmental contamination on industrial real estate prices, (The Appraisal Journal, Apr. 2001). E

Is there a revival of strict environmental liability for landowners?, (Grand Rapids Business Journal, Oct. 29, 2014).


Insurance & Liability Issues

Can Environmental Insurance Succeed Where Other Strategies Fail? The Case of Underground Storage Tanks, (Risk Analysis: An International Journal, Jan. 2011). E

Florida Regulation Presses Underground Storage Tank Issue: Insurance in Jeopardy, (National Underwriter, P & C, May 18, 2009).  E

NAR State Issues Tracker. See topic “Sellers Required Disclosures” for information on state disclosure requirements (Realtor.org login is required).

List of Known Insurance Providers for Underground Storage Tanks, (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, June 2009).

Research Finds Homeowners Plagued by Thousands of Leaking Underground Storage Tanks, (RISMedia, Apr. 26, 2007). 


Government & Non-Profit Organizations

Federal Government Resources

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $200 million in funding to the EPA for cleaning up underground storage tank leaks. Much of this funding is funneled to state environmental agencies for cleanup oversight and management.

State Government Resources

Many U.S. states have environmental departments or commissions. These departments can be a great source of information on state specific compliance and disclosure requirements.

For example, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality published a booklet, Real Estate Professionals and Underground Storage Tanks, in May 2002. The Maryland Department of the Environment also published a document, There's An Underground Storage Tank on the Property, on Jan. 27, 2010.

To identify a state-run department in your state, check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's State Environmental Agencies web page.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Underground Storage Tanks 
Phone: 703-603-9900
Email OUST
1220 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Mail Code 5401P
Washington, DC  20460

Environmental Council of the States (a non-profit association of state and territorial environmental agency leaders)
Phone: 202-624-3666
Email Environmental Council of the States
444 North Capital Street NW, Ste. 445
Washington, DC 20001

The Groundwater Foundation (a non-profit, non-government affiliated organization)
Phone: 800-858-4844
email: Email Groundwater Foundation
P.O. Box 22558
Lincoln, NE 68542-2558


eBooks & Other Resources

eBooks.realtor.org

The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Complete Book of Insurance (Adobe eReader)

How to Insure Your Home (Adobe eReader)

Land Use Law for Sustainable Development (Adobe eReader)

Pollution & Property (Adobe eReader)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Services. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Services at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

Powerlines, docks, underground storage tanks... ignore at your own risk, (Florida REALTOR®, Apr. 2003, p. 26-31). 

Fixtures—oil storage tanks are personal property of tenant rather than fixtures entitling tenant to relocation payments, (National Property Law Digests, Jan. 2000, p. 7-8).

Powerlines, docks, underground storage tanks... ignore at your own risk, (Florida REALTOR®, Apr. 2003, p. 26-31).

Fixtures—oil storage tanks are personal property of tenant rather than fixtures entitling tenant to relocation payments, (National Property Law Digests, Jan. 2000, p. 7-8).

Green Building and Sustainable Development: The Practical Legal Guide

Powerlines, docks, underground storage tanks... ignore at your own risk, (Florida REALTOR®, Apr. 2003, p. 26-31).

Fixtures—oil storage tanks are personal property of tenant rather than fixtures entitling tenant to relocation payments, (National Property Law Digests, Jan. 2000, p. 7-8).

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Dealing With Stigmatized Properties  

Field Guide to Effects of Hazardous Waste on Property Values

Information Services Blog


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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.