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TDEC Updates Fund Eligibility Rules

July 22, 2021

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has suspended the annual fee for all petroleum underground storage tanks over the next five years. The rule change, which began on July 1, 2021, is expected to save tank owners approximately $10 million over the lifetime of the fee suspension.

In addition to the annual fee suspension, additional rule changes for the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Fund were implemented on June 15, 2021. The new rules include:

  • Lowering the deductible for sites in compliance from $20,000 to $5,000; and 
  • Extending the UST Fund coverage to new sites with violations using a compliance-based variable deductible scaled from $10,000 to $30,000 based on the severity of the violations.

The new rules will apply to releases occurring on or after June 15, 2021. There will be no changes to the requirements of fund eligibility and applications must be submitted within 60/90 days to receive reimbursement.

According to a letter issued by TDEC to state UST tank owners, TDEC’s Division and Board has taken these steps due to noted progress in the Tennessee UST program over the past 17 years. In 2004, the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Fund was insolvent and not able to pay cleanup claims, thus resulting in a Fund Maintenance Fee to meet federal and state financial requirements for cleanup, the letter stated. The fee raised nearly $9.5 million to match the $10 million provided by the State of Tennessee. Since this time, the UST Fund has proven successful, leading to the five-year fee suspension.

While these changes will help many tank owners by fee reduction, it is also important to pay close attention to the monthly compliance checks and balances that keep facilities in substantial compliance and lower entry fees into the Trust Fund in the event of a release.  PM has a long track record of supporting tank owners with questions related to compliance, assessment, clean up and accessing the Trust Fund.

For more information on the changes, please visit: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/environment/underground-storage-tanks/documents/public-participation/Notice%20of%20UST%20Rulemaking%20Hearing-%2012-01-2020.pdf