Ability of Underground Petroleum Storage Tank Owners to Comply With Federal Financial Responsibility Requirements

Gao ID: T-RCED-90-9 October 31, 1989

GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) requirements for underground petroleum storage tank owners to demonstrate their financial responsibility. GAO noted that EPA: (1) was gradually phasing in its requirements for tank owners to demonstrate their financial ability to clean up tank leaks and compensate anyone harmed by leaks; (2) did not defer the financial responsibility requirements for larger firms, which it believed would not experience compliance difficulties, since they could self-insure or use state funds available for cleanups; (3) planned to make a decision about postponing smaller firms' 1990 compliance deadlines as they approached, since the small firms could still experience compliance difficulties; (4) expected to receive and approve some state requests to operate and enforce underground storage tank programs in lieu of the federal program; (5) reported that more insurance companies offered tank coverage and more states created funds to pay for tank leak damages since it enacted the deadlines; (6) assigned a low priority to enforcement of the financial responsibility requirements and advised its regional offices to pursue alternative, nonpunitive enforcement responses, as opposed to penalties, for those owners that did not comply with financial responsibility requirements; and (7) did not intend to actively check tank owners' compliance or penalize noncompliant firms unless they did not clean up tank leaks.


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