Official Government of the Virgin Islands Website

Coastal Zone Management

The Underground Storage Tank Program aims to protect groundwater resources by regulating underground storage tank systems pursuant to the Virgin Islands Underground Storage Tank Act (USTA) which was enacted in May 2000. The primary goal of the program is to prevent and also detect the presence of any contamination of soils and groundwater from USTs within the territory. Local and Federal regulations mandate all UST owners/operators to perform monthly leak detection monitoring, obtaining financial responsibility, report suspected releases, conduct investigation for suspected releases, and implement corrective action for confirmed contamination. In brief, national UST related regulations require that:
  • Regulated underground storage tanks must have regular monthly monitoring, leak detection testing, inventory control, corrosion protection and spill prevention.
  • Tanks, leaks, cleanup and closures must be reported and recorded.
  • Certain sites may require cleanup.
  • Existing tanks be replaced or upgraded to new tank standards by December 22, 1998.
  • Owners or operators must have proof of financial responsibility.

Affected USTs include tanks, and any underground piping connected to a tank, that have at least 10 percent of their combined volume underground. Federal UST regulations only apply to underground tanks and piping that store either petroleum or certain hazardous substances. USTs not mandated by federal UST regulations include:

  • Farm and residential tanks with a capacity of 1,100 gallons or less holding motor fuel that is used for noncommercial purposes;
  • Tanks storing heating oil that is used on the premises where it is stored;
  • Tanks on or above the floor of underground areas, such as basements or tunnels;
  • Septic tanks and systems for collecting storm water and wastewater;
  • Flow-through process tanks;
  • Tanks with a capacity of 110 gallons or less; and
  • Emergency spill and overfill tanks.

Although the above types of tanks are not affected by federal requirements for USTs, some fall under other environmental regulations. Major initiatives continue to be made by the EPA, the USVI DPNR/DEP and other states and territories to prevent and minimize UST leaks, resultant groundwater and soil contamination, and associated human safety, health and environmental risks. A major benefit of local UST regulations is that, in addition to meeting federal requirements, local regulations would take into consideration the diversity, unique needs and priorities of the USVI community and environment. Local UST regulations also give the USVI, through the DPNR-DEP, primary responsibility for management of UST regulatory compliance, including enforcement and assessment of fines and penalties for violations. The EPA currently holds primary responsibility for UST regulation in the USVI, but has delegated, through memorandum of agreement, certain responsibilities to the DPNR-DEP. The Virgin Islands Underground Tanks Storage Act is found in Title 12 Chapter 16 of the Virgin Islands Code and local regulations are found in Title 12 Chapter 16 of the Virgin Islands Rules and Regulations.