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Underground storage tank (UST) systems are utilized at fueling stations for storing and dispensing petroleum products, mostly gasoline and diesel fuel. Tanker trucks transport these petroleum products to individual fueling stations where it is loaded into onsite USTs. The fuels are then pumped from the USTs to fuel dispensers via underground piping infrastructure.

UST system owners and operators are required to comply with both State and Federal regulations designed to minimize potential for a release of petroleum hydrocarbon-based fuels into soil and/or groundwater. In Nevada, the Nevada Petroleum Fund (the Fund) was established in 1989 to provide financial assistance to UST system owners for corrective action costs associated with addressing impacted soil and/or groundwater following a release. The Fund is a voluntary program that UST owners may enroll in by paying an annual $100 per tank fee. The Fund is further supported by a $0.0075 fee for each gallon of motor vehicle fuel or heating oil sold in Nevada. The current (June, 2020) Fund balance is approximately $9.5 million.

When a release occurs from a UST system in Nevada, characterization and remediation activities must be performed under the direction of a Nevada Certified Environmental Manager (CEM) with oversight from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP). The Fund will reimburse up to $1 million (minus a 10% co-payment) in corrective action costs to address a release. Additionally, the Fund will provide another $1 million in coverage to satisfy third party damage claims, if such claims are applicable. To receive coverage from the Fund, an application must be submitted to and approved by the Fund.

Unauthorized releases that occur due to negligence, overfills and spills, or during a lapse in Fund coverage are not eligible for Fund coverage, and the Fund has the authority to recommend up to 40% reduction in coverage if a UST system is determined to be non-compliant with applicable State and Federal regulations at the time of the release. Additionally, the Fund does not provide reimbursement of costs associated tank system upgrades, repairs, or removal.

Procedurally, once an unauthorized release has been discovered and reported to the NDEP, the identified responsible party must retain a CEM to work with the NDEP to devise a plan for characterization and/or remediation. Once a work plan for cleanup has been approved by the NDEP, the CEM will submit a Not-To-Exceed Proposal (NTEP) outlining the anticipated corrective action costs. After corrective action costs are incurred, a reimbursement request is prepared by the CEM and submitted to the Fund. An initial reimbursement claim must be submitted within 12 months of the release discovery and subsequent claims are generally submitted on a quarterly basis thereafter. Once a claim is approved by the Fund, it is submitted to the Fund Board for final approval and payment.

Broadbent has been providing CEM services relative to unauthorized releases from UST systems in Nevada since our inception in 1987. As such, we have extensive experience in all aspects of site characterization and remediation and with successfully handling Fund protocol and achieving full reimbursement, and we have done so on hundreds of sites across the state of Nevada. Should you need help or have questions relative to UST releases, NDEP regulations, and/or Fund claims and the reimbursement process, please feel free to contact us. We are here to help.

Author: Stephanie Holst, Senior Scientist at Broadbent & Associates, Inc.

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