2015 UST Rules to Begin Full Implementation

The 2015 Revised Underground Storage Tank (UST) Regulations will begin full implementation in some states and 16 non-program approved states on October 13, 2018.  The revisions strengthen the 1988 federal UST regulations by increasing emphasis on properly operating and maintaining UST equipment. The revisions will help prevent and detect UST releases, which are a leading source of groundwater contamination.

In addition, EPA added new operation and maintenance requirements and addressed UST systems deferred in the 1988 UST regulation. Below is a summary of five key operational changes:

  • Overfill Prevention Equipment Inspections Overfill protection equipment must be tested and operationally inspected once every three years, and the owner must demonstrate that the equipment operates properly. In addition, owners must inspect automatic shut-off devices, flow restrictors, and alarms.
  • Spill Bucket Testing Spill prevention equipment must be tested once every three years. The spill bucket must be liquid tight and in proper operational condition.
  • Sumps and Under Dispenser Containment (UDC) Integrity Testing Once every three years, tank owners must test all sumps used for interstitial monitoring, and the test must show that the equipment is liquid tight using either vacuum, pressure, or liquid testing methods.  If you have double-walled sumps and/or automatic alarm shut-off sensors, your requirements may be different.
  • Sumps, UDC and Release Detection Equipment Inspection Visual Once a year, tank owners must visually check the sumps for damage, releases, and leaks.  Also probes and sensor tests must be conducted annually to ensure they are in operational condition.
  • Monthly Spill Bucket and Release Detection Walk Through Inspections Every 30 days, tank owners must conduct monthly UST system walkthrough inspections for spill buckets, fill caps, release detection equipment, alarm conditions, check/remove obstructions in fill pipe, and check interstice of double-walled spill buckets (if present).

Several resources are available through EPA and your state websites, such as guidance, summaries and forms.  EPA’s resources can be found here, https://www.epa.gov/ust/revising-underground-storage-tank-regulations-revisions-existing-requirements-and-new#compliance.

Be sure to go to the EPA and your state website and regulators for more specific information about the requirements in your state. If you need additional information or have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at todd.perry@ppmco.com or Zane Hood at zane.hood@ppmco.com.


Contributed by L. Todd Perry, Principal
Posted in Alabama, Blog, Environmental Compliance, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana, Mississippi, News


A recent study from two University of California Berkeley economists, Joseph Shapiro and Reed Walker, has found that pollution emissions from U.S. manufacturing fell by 60 percent between 1990 and 2008.  While during the same period, manufacturing grew by 30%.  The study will be published in the American Economic Review.

This is very good news and strong evidence that the Clean Air act has had a remarkable effect on significantly reducing air pollutants, which in turn provides for improved air quality.  Consider the smog levels during the 70s in major cities such as Los Angeles and Houston.   Residents will tell you how much their air quality has improved.

Some have argued that we have sent our dirty manufacturing such as steel, pulp and paper overseas which drove the decrease in emissions.  However, the truth is the study found we are producing even more of the same goods, but manufacturing has taken significant steps to reduce their emissions.

In a recent Report to the Community of the San Joaquin Valley, it was reported that pollution emissions were reduced by 85% over the last 15 years.  In the report, several measures were cited that were attributed to the reduction.  However, we know that manufacturing emissions were the key driver that created these reductions.

In an article published last year in the PPM Journal, The DOCUMERICA Photo Project: Searching for the Seventies, it discussed the EPA project of photographing contamination in America during the 1970s.  Some of the photographers returned three decades later and photographed the same sites.  The reduction of pollution at these sites was clear.  And proof that the clean air and water acts have made great improvements to public health and a safer environment.

The press release for the University of California Berkeley study can be found here, http://news.berkeley.edu/2018/08/09/environmental-regulations-drove-steep-declines-in-u-s-factory-pollution/ , the Report to the Community of the San Joaquin Valley can be found here, http://www.valleyair.org/General_info/pubdocs/2017-18-Annual-Report.PDF and The DOCUMERICA Photo Project: Searching for the Seventies article can be found here, https://www.ppmco.com/the-documerica-photo-project-searching-for-the-seventies/?utm_source=Final+Journal+01%2F10%2F2017&utm_campaign=10%2F29%2F2016&utm_medium=email .

Posted in Alabama, Blog, Environmental Compliance, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

EPA: Landfill Emissions

The OIG plans to begin preliminary research to determine whether active municipal solid waste landfills are operating under the appropriate air-quality permit. Click here


Posted in Alabama, Environmental Compliance, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

EPA Proposes Changes to Storage Tank Emission Calculation Guidance

On July 25, 2018, EPA proposed revisions to AP-42 Section 7.1 – Organic Liquid Storage Tanks. This section, lasted updated in November 2006, provides guidance for calculating air emissions from fixed and floating-roof storage tanks. Along with EPA’s TANK 4.09d software, this section has formed the backbone for most industrial facilities’ tank emissions estimates for many years. Is it possible that these changes mark the final nail in the coffin for the free software and the shift towards alternate solutions?

The proposed revisions address several previously noted deficiencies in Section 7.1 EPA is proposing to add methodologies for calculating emissions from activities such as roof landings, cleaning operations, and vapor flashing. EPA is also slightly modifying some of the existing calculation methodologies, and adding emission calculation methodologies for tanks containing unstable liquids, agitated tanks, and pressure tanks. EPA is accepting comments on the proposed revisions until September 24, 2018.

The idea of moving away from the TANKS 4.09d software is not new. EPA announced in 2012 that it would no longer be supporting the program, but has kept the program available for download. Many deficiencies, such as the program’s inability to accurately calculate monthly emissions, limitations for heated tanks, and lack of functions for calculating flashing, cleaning, and roof landing emissions have been known for years. However, the fact that it is free, easy to use, and generally accepted by state agencies for most tank types, has kept it afloat despite the lack of EPA support.

Once EPA finalizes the updates to AP-42 Section 7.1, TANKS 4.09d will go from a slightly outdated program that can still accurately calculate emissions from the majority of storage tanks, to a program that no longer follows AP-42 guidance for most tanks. While the overall emissions impact of the new methodology is likely to be minor for most tanks, many state agencies will likely favor the current methodology and cease accepting TANK 4.09d results in new air permit applications and annual emission inventories.

If agencies cease accepting TANKS 4.09d, what else is out there? The best option for you depends on your needs. The most basic solution is to create a spreadsheet to follow the new AP- 42 methodology, but this can be a significant undertaking, especially for a site with numerous tanks. Third-party software ranges from simple programs to full support packages where the provider will enter and run emissions for you. The best solution will depend on a particular facility’s needs and budget. Regardless of whether you need to estimate emissions from a single diesel storage tank, or a massive tank farm, PPM is ready to help find the solution to best meet your individual needs. Feel free to email ned.coleman@ppmco.com with any questions to discuss the various options available to move forward after the obsolescence of Tanks 4.09d.


Contributed by Ned Coleman, P.E. Senior Environmental Engineer
Posted in Alabama, Blog, Environmental Compliance, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

DC Circuit Court Vacates Risk Management Program (RMP) Delay Rule

More than five years after President Obama issued Executive Order (EO) 13650, sending us down this winding road, on August 17, 2018, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the RMP Delay Rule.  The Court of Appeals stated, “Because EPA has not engaged in reasoned decision-making, its promulgation of the Delay Rule is arbitrary and capricious.” The Circuit Court listed three specific reasons to substantiate their rationale.

First, agencies regularly reconsider rules that are already in affect but as the Second Circuit Court stated, “a decision to reconsider a rule does not simultaneously convey authority to indefinitely delay the existing rule pending that reconsideration.” Basically, the EPA failed to provide any reasonable evidence to delay the rule past the 3-month delay explicitly authorized by CAA Section 7607(d)(7)(B)).  The EPA had cited 7412(r)(7) as a basis for their 20-month delay; however, “the Delay Rule is not the type of amendment authorized by 7414(r)(7)….particularly where the statue requires the agency to assure compliance as expeditiously as practicable.”

Section 7607 (d)(7)(B) of the CAA authorized a three-month stay when a petition for reconsideration had been filed, but no more than that according to the Court of Appeals. However, while the Delay Rule must be vacated, the Court of Appeals also stated that EPA retains authority under the CAA to “substantively amend the programmatic requirements of the Chemical Disaster Rule, and pursuant to that authority, revise the effective and compliance dates, subject to arbitrary and capricious review.”  The panel had no objection to the 3-month stay.

Second, “the Delay Rule does not explain its departure from EPA’s previous conclusions regarding the appropriate and practicable timeline for implementing the Chemical Disaster Rule”.  The Court found that EPA failed to explain how the compliance periods that were contained in the previous rule were now impractical when they were reached after soliciting and considering comments on the subject.

Third, the Court disagreed with EPA’s statement in the Delay Rule which cited the Texas fertilizer explosion was caused by arson rather than an accident, stating that was not a reasoned basis for delaying the entire Chemical Disaster Rule as the EPA cited many more incidents than the West, Texas disaster in promulgation of the rule.

Parties involved will be allowed time to file petitions for rehearing and the government has 45 days to respond. If the court grants a response, it could likely add at least another 30 days until the mandate issues.

Regardless of the Circuit Court’s decision, the EPA does have options moving forward: appeal the ruling, attempt to delay the rule for a period of time that can legally be defended, remove/modify certain Chemical Disaster Rule requirements, or allow the Chemical Disaster Rule to be implemented.  The last option appears highly unlikely and its anyone’s best guess as to how the EPA moves forward, but everyone should stay tuned-in to this RMP rulemaking process.

It should be noted that EPA formally proposed substantive changes to this rule on May 30, 2018, and that proposal is likely to be the new RMP focal point for the EPA and Administration.

Rule History

August 1, 2013 – President Obama issued Executive Order (EO) 13650

March 14, 2016 – EPA published the Proposed Rule

January 13, 2017, the Final Rule was published in the Federal Register

February 28, 2017 – EPA receives petition requesting reconsideration and stay for the Final Rule

March 16, 2017 – Final Rule  provides 90-day stay of the effective date of the RMP amendments

April 3, 2017 – EPA Proposed Rule to further delay RMP amendments until February 19, 2019

June 9, 2017 – EPA Final Rule to further delay RMP amendments until February 19, 2019

May 17, 2018 – EPA Proposed Rule on several changes to the RMP amendments

August 17, 2018 – DC Circuit Court vacates the RMP Delay Rule


Contributed by Isaac Smith, Environmental Compliance Manager
Posted in Alabama, Blog, Environmental Compliance, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

Local Firm PPM Consultants Honored with ENR Top 200 Award

PPM  held its own in 2017 among top environmental firms to win its 12th award from ENR despite many changes to the market and environmental regulations.  The company experienced one of its strongest financial performances of its 23-year history in 2017, and has been recognized as a leader among architecture, engineering and consulting (AEC) firms.

Environmental News Record (ENR) annually publishes a list of the world’s Top 200 environmental firms based on revenue generated. This list includes firms that specialize in such areas as hazardous waste, water and wastewater treatment, air quality, nuclear waste, environmental management and environmental science.

Co-founder and Principal Todd Perry said, “It is always an honor to be recognized by ENR as one of the top environmental consulting firms and a leader in our industry. Since our founding in 1994, PPM has worked hard to provide our clients with environmental solutions. Our stellar growth year over year is really a tribute to our fantastic team of environmental professionals and our clients that allow us to serve them.”

Founded primarily as a firm specializing in soil and groundwater assessment and remediation for the petroleum marketing industry, PPM’s services have expanded over the years to include a full range of air, water and waste compliance consulting, due diligence and other related environmental services. PPM serves the petroleum marketing, industrial, commercial real estate, legal, and oil and gas sectors, as well as local, state and federal government.

PPM Consultants is an environmental engineering and consulting firm with over twenty years of experience serving enterprises small and large. Multi-year Inc. 500 award winner, Zweig White Hot Firm and Engineering News Record (ENR) Top 200 firm, PPM has completed over 27,000 environmental projects in 26 states. With seven office locations across the Gulf South and over 40 service centers across the nation, PPM provides timely, expert environmental services to simplify the complexities of environmental compliance.

Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

PFAS Chemicals and the EPA’s Plan

Trey Glenn, EPA Region 4 Administrator, recently penned an article expressing EPA’s concerns about a class of “emerging contaminants” that are showing up in aquifers and surface waters across the nation.  He stated that “protecting America’s drinking water is a top priority for EPA and that’s why we are coming together with state and local partners in North Carolina to gather input about a group of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)”.

What are PFAS and what are the concerns?

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals and both chemicals have the tendency to accumulate in the human body over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects. Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. The most consistent findings are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations, with more limited findings related to:

  • low infant birth weights,
  • effects on the immune system,
  • cancer (for PFOA), and
  • thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS).

What is EPA doing about it?

  • EPA will initiate steps to evaluate the need for a maximum contaminant level (MCL) in drinking water for two PFAS chemicals (PFOA and PFOS).
  • EPA is beginning the necessary steps to propose designating PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous substances” through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including potentially Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act Section 102.
  • EPA will develop groundwater cleanup recommendations for PFOA and PFOS at contaminated sites and will complete this task by fall of this year.
  • EPA is taking action in close collaboration with our federal and state partners to develop toxicity values for GenX and PFBS by this summer.

Given the high-profile US drinking water issues in recent years, the EPA appears to be moving quickly in an effort to understand this complex situation and identify necessary measures to address possible PFAS contamination, stay tuned…..

Additional Information

EPA website on PFAS – https://www.epa.gov/pfas


Contributed by Isaac Smith, Environmental Compliance Manager
Posted in Blog, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana

Thinking About Tomorrow Today

Charles Ray presented on the topic: “Lake Okeechobee and Environmental Justice”, at the Florida Brownfields Association Environmental Justice and Social Equity Symposium.  The focus of the presentation is to bring attention to: (1) negative environmental conditions impacting their community health, (2) the impacts to the local economy and (3) to obtain assistance eliminating impacts to Brownfields Communities by identifying the sources of the nutrients feeding the toxic algae.  The symposium was hosted by the City of New Smyrna Beach.  The workshop’s theme, “Environmental Justice and Social Equity: Thinking About Tomorrow Today”.

The concern is the toxic pollution of cyanotoxins from algae in Lake Okeechobee and the negative impacts to the health and economic wellbeing of communities surrounding the Lake.  NASA reported that 90% of the 730 square mile Lake Okeechobee is covered by toxic algae blooms.  Okeechobee is the Florida’s largest freshwater lake and drinking-water repository.  The three most noted pollutants to the lake are farm nutrients, manure and septic tanks.  Local communities rely on the lake for food, tourism and the sales of fish to supplement household incomes.  However, the Lake as an asset has become a health and economic problem to all homeowners and businesses connected to the Lake via the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers.  Unfortunately, there are disproportionately higher negative environmental impacts in many low income and minority communities.  The EPA and Florida Brownfields Programs are designed to empower communities and other stakeholders.  EPA defines Environmental Justice as the “fair treatment for people of all races, cultures, and incomes, regarding the development of environmental laws, regulations and policies.”

The Florida Brownfields Association is committed to helping restore health and wealth to low income and minority communities located in Brownfields areas.  To that end, the FBA has established an Environmental Justice and Public Health Committee to address this important issue.

Posted in Blog, Brownfields, Environmental Compliance, EPA News & Regulations, News

Ned Coleman, P.E. Joins PPM Consultants as Senior Environmental Engineer

MOBILE, Ala.Ned Coleman has joined PPM Consultants as a Senior Environmental Engineer in the firm’s Mobile, Alabama office. Coleman has nine years of experience in air quality and compliance that he brings to PPM.

Coleman has extensive knowledge of environmental regulations, New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD). He also has experience in environmental auditing, Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR), and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) environmental report preparation, along with others.

His project background includes air permitting and compliance, spill prevention, control, and countermeasure (SPCC) plan development, national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permitting, ambient air monitoring, and United States Coast Guard (USCG) Marine Vapor Control System certifications.

Coleman holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering, with an emphasis on Environmental Chemical Engineering, from Auburn University. Coleman is a licensed professional engineer in Alabama and Louisiana with extensive Title V knowledge.



Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, Louisiana, News

PPM Working to Improve Local Communities

PPM is working to improve local communities as we explore a Brownfield site in Bastrop, Louisiana. From our team, Lucero Solis and Jordan Harper with the Mayor of Bastrop, Henry Cotton.

Posted in Blog, Brownfields, Louisiana