aboveground storage tanks

February 21, 2024

Aboveground storage tank compliance
A little preparation goes a long way in avoiding AST regulatory issues and fines while maintaining a positive reputation for your facility and business.


When it comes to running your facility, there are many things you are constantly considering and managing. The list can seem never-ending, from worker safety to product supply chain and staying staffed. The last thing you want is a surprise visit from your local, state, or federal regulator that goes badly. Here are five things to look for to avoid unpleasant surprises to ensure your aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) are inspection-ready.

Make sure that your AST secondary containment is empty. The secondary containment design is to prevent spills and leaks from reaching the environment, so the containment should be emptied after each rain, once the contents are verified to be only stormwater and free of sheen. Also, regular cleaning of the secondary containment of algae and debris build-up avoids potential issues during inspections.

A locked containment drain valve is essential to demonstrate compliance with your visiting regulator. The locked valve will prevent any unauthorized connections, which can lead to potential environmental hazards. For instance, during my time at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, a facility was fined because an untrained maintenance technician had drained an overflowing paint tank to a nearby stream via a garden hose connected to the secondary containment valve. By locking your containment drain valve, you mitigate risks and show your commitment to environmental safety.

Ensure you update staff on spill response training. Proper training is key to handling spills efficiently and safely. By providing your employees with the necessary knowledge and skills, you can create a proactive culture of environmental responsibility within your organization.

Have a fully stocked spill kit next to your tank and other likely spill points. Accidents happen, and it is crucial to be prepared with the proper supplies for potential spills. Having a spill kit ready and available can help you respond quickly and effectively, minimizing any environmental impact. Your SPCC Plan should include a list of spill kit locations, the contents of each spill kit, and a schedule for inspection of these kits. Following your SPCC Plan’s inspection schedule and forms will help you check and replenish the spill kit to ensure they are always ready for you when needed.

Check that your AST safety features are in good working order. Your tanks should have functioning fill gauges and alarms. These devices are essential for monitoring the contents’ level and preventing overfilling, which can lead to spills and other hazardous situations. Another crucial aspect to consider is the functioning of the emergency vent. Common issues with emergency vents include manway bolts that are secured too tightly without any slack, painted-over vents, or busted heat latches that can allow water to enter.

Regularly inspect and maintain all of these to ensure their proper functioning – they play vital roles in preventing spills and other potential tank failures. Remember to keep a copy of all your inspection forms to show your visiting regulator – it gives agencies confidence in your ability to protect the environment.


Being prepared for tank inspections is essential for any facility managing ASTs. Following the recommendations above demonstrates your commitment to worker and community safety, product supply chain integrity, and environmental responsibility.


Additional Resources:


Ben Reynolds
Ben Reynolds, PE, SCS Engineers in Little Rock, Arkansas

About the Author: Benjamin Reynolds is a Senior Project Professional in our Little Rock, Arkansas, office. He is experienced in Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plans, Tank Assessments, Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs), and Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments. He is a Professional Engineer licensed in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Florida.

Reach out to Ben at  or on LinkedIn.






Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am