Changes to New York Storage Tank Regulations Impact Many Basement Tanks

Encased heating oil tank in a NYC building basement subject to NY storage tank regulations

       Encased heating oil tank in a NYC building basement.

On October 11, 2015, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) made significant revisions to the NY storage tank regulations (6 NYCRR Part 613). One of the many revisions included a revised definition of Underground Storage Tank (UST). A substantial change from the previous regulations, a UST is now defined as a tank that is “beneath the surface of the ground or is covered by materials.” The latter term captures basement tanks that have been encased in cement, brick or block for fire protection purposes, and which were previously considered aboveground tanks.

It is important to note that a facility with USTs containing heating oil at a volume of 1,100 gallons or less is exempt. However, it is the aggregate volume that determines applicability. So for example, a facility with two 1,000-gallon tanks containing heating oil would be subject to the regulations, since the aggregate capacity is greater than 1,100 gallons.

There are a number of regulatory requirements which apply to facilities affected by this regulation. These requirements vary depending on the date that the tank was installed. All regulated tanks must be registered with NYSDEC, and must comply with leak detection requirements. For tanks with weep holes, weekly visual inspections should be performed, and records of inspections performed during the last 30 days must be made immediately available to NYSDEC. For tanks without weep holes, annual tightness testing is required.

For regulated heating oil USTs that were installed prior to December 27, 1986 (“Category 1” tanks), additional requirements are applicable, and include the following:

  1. Fill pipes leading to pump-filled USTs must be equipped with a properly functioning check valve or equivalent device.
  2. Connections on gravity-drained USTs must be equipped with a flow control valve.
  3. Transfer procedures that prevent spills and overfills must be employed.
  4. Fill ports must be color-coded in accordance with industry standards.

Additional requirements apply to newer Category 2 and 3 tanks. For the full text of the revised NY storage tank regulations, visit NYSDEC’s website at