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UST Systems - Maintenance Basics

John Poullain, P.E.

Course Outline

This two-hour online course provides general guidelines and checklists for the inspection and maintenance of underground storage tank (UST) systems, sumps and spill buckets and pertinent components used to dispense petroleum products. The functions of the various UST mechanical and electrical devises are described to give an understanding of the proper performance of the system. A UST system must be maintained properly to operate efficiently in order to prevent leakage of petroleum products into the environment. The course describes the required maintenance to avoid problems that adversely affect operation.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for civil engineers, owners, inspectors and contractors.

Benefit to Attendees

The student will gain an understanding of the various UST components, types of sumps, spill buckets and their proper operation for safeguarding against the hazards of petroleum releases. Inspections and knowledge of what to look for during an inspection can identify proper operation and maintenance procedures. Staining, seal or equipment damages, condition of piping and connections should be checked. Access to sumps and other UST components are discussed along with safety considerations and potential hazards to be aware of.

Course Introduction

This course provides general guidance to identify and inspect sumps; spill buckets and control devises that are associated with UST systems. Necessary measures to maintain the sumps and other equipment as well as any unsound conditions or potential problems are discussed.

Many advances have been made in mechanical equipment such as spillage or overflow detectors and alarms that safeguard against the threat of UST petroleum releases. Still UST's continue to experience leakage. For instance a one-gallon leakage of fuel per week from a poorly maintained spill bucket can result in up to 195 tons of contaminated soil in a year. Such leakage continues to occur despite many safety features installed to protect against spill and overflow incidences.

Periodic inspections, knowing when a component of a system is defective or improperly maintained and understanding what is necessary to correct observed problems are important to continue proper operations of a system. The course covers the basics of good maintenance, value of inspections and items to look for that adversely effect UST system operations. Simple housekeeping measures like removal of ice, liquids and debris from the sumps, indications of staining, seal or equipment damages and positioning of sensors should be checked.

Course Content

This course is based primarily on the US EPA Manual, "UST Systems: Inspecting and Maintaining Sumps and Spill Buckets" 2005 Edition, 18 pages), PDF file. The course is also based on selected paragraphs of Sections 4 and 5 of the US EPA publication, "Operating and Maintaining UST Systems", EPA 510-B05-002 (2005 Edition, 6 pages), PDF file.

The links to the course materials are:

UST Systems: Inspecting and Maintaining Sumps and Spill Buckets (US EPA Manual)

Operating and Maintaining UST Systems", EPA 510-B05-002 (Section 4)

Operating and Maintaining UST Systems", EPA 510-B05-002 (Section 5)

You need to open or download above documents to study this course.

Course Summary

This course serves as a guide to the mechanical and sensor devises of a UST system. The operation, inspection and proper maintenance necessary to prevent or warn of any leakage into the environment are explained. Also described are the main UST components and the problems that commonly cause failure in operation. Problem areas and what to look for when a system is inspected are discussed.

Related Links

For additional technical information related to this subject, please refer to:
Petroleum Equipment Institute has information on UST system equipment and troubleshooting guides.
EPA Office of Underground Storage Tanks has more guidance on UST systems and the O&M requirements.


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.