State News

State announces “Red Tag” rule for aboveground storage tanks

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, June 8, filed a new rule for aboveground storage tanks that will require inspectors to affix red tags on heating oil tanks that are at imminent risk of a fuel spill. Fuel distributors are not allowed to deliver fuel to a red-tagged tank until the tank has been repaired or replaced. Homeowners will have until July 31, 2020, to schedule their first inspection and after the first inspection must have their tanks inspected once every three years.

The red-tag rule will help prevent costly spills of heating oil from aboveground storage tanks. Last year, Vermont’s Petroleum Cleanup Fund spent over $1 million providing assistance to tank owners for tank upgrades and repairs and paying for cleanups associated with roughly 80 aboveground storage tank releases. The Petroleum Cleanup Fund’s heating oil account is financed through a one-cent fee on each gallon of heating oil fuel.

“Preventing fuel spills that contaminate the environment and put human health at risk is much more cost-effective than cleanup,” said Emily Boedecker, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. “Red-tag inspections will reduce the frequency of unintended releases, improve environmental outcomes and reduce the need for expensive cleanups.”

Vermont spends on average $700,000 a year to clean up aboveground storage tank fuel spills, most of which are avoidable. Homeowners whose heating oil tanks are red-tagged may be eligible for up to $2,000 to replace indoor tanks and up to $3,000 for outdoor tanks.  To apply for assistance, individuals may contact [email protected]

The following five conditions are considered unsafe and will result in a red tag:

Unstable foundation;

Uncoated or un-sleeved piping from the tank to the heating appliance, which could corrode if in contact with soil or concrete and cause a release;

Unequal fill and vent pipe size, which could lead to over-pressurization of the system;

No vent whistle, which could lead to an overfill of a tank because the person delivering fuel cannot be sure when the tank is approaching capacity; and

Poor tank condition such as excessive rust, leaks, weeps, drips. These are all signs that a tank needs to be replaced.

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