- Standard Number:
OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.
July 31, 1990
MEMORANDUM FOR: MICHAEL G. CONNORS
FROM: PATRICIA K. CLARK, DIRECTOR DESIGNATE DIRECTORATE OF COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS
THROUGH: LEO CAREY, DIRECTOR OFFICE OF FIELD PROGRAMS
SUBJECT: 29 CFR 1910.120/Underground Storage Tanks
This is in response to your request for further guidance on the application of the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard (29 CFR 1910.120) to removal activities involving underground storage tanks.
Subtitle I of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulates petroleum products and hazardous substances (as defined under Superfund) stored in underground storage tanks. Under this program EPA has established regulations laying out performance standards for new tanks as well as standards covering leak detection, leak prevention, and corrective action for both new and existing underground storage tanks.
Activity under subtitle I of RCRA could fall under the following scope sections of 29 CFR 1910.120:
1. Clean-up operations........1910.120(a)(1)(i) and (a)(1)(iii)
2. Corrective actions.........1910.120(a)(1)(ii)
3. Emergency response operations.........1910.120(a)(1)(v)
Corrective action under RCRA is an order either EPA or the State issues that requires an RCRA facility to take some action when there has been a release of hazardous waste or hazardous substance into the environment. Corrective action can be required beyond the facility boundary and can be required regardless of when the hazardous waste or hazardous substance was placed at the facility. OSHA interprets the corrective action activity to include excavation work to remove the tank, tank cleaning, and tank removal if these activities are necessary to complete the order.
Leak detection, leak prevention, tank cleaning, and closure activity are covered by 29 CFR 1910.120 if any of the following apply:
1. A government body is requiring the tank to be removed because of the potential threat to the environment or the public; or
2. The activities are necessary to complete a corrective action.
3. A government body has recognized the site to be uncontrolled hazardous waste.
4. There is a need for emergency response procedures.
Note: It is not a requirement that a release must have occurred in order to meet the above triggering elements.
On the other hand, where 1910.120 does not apply other OSHA standards, including 5(a)(1) of the Act would be applicable.
I hope this information is helpful.