A tightness test is a means of determining whether a storage tank and/or its piping system are leaking. DEC requires using a test that can detect a tank or piping leak of 0.1 gallons per hour (gph) (with a probability of at least 95% and no more than 5% probability of false alarm.
The test used must detect leaks from the entire tank system component – tank tests must include the liquid-filled portion of the tank AND the vapor space above the petroleum, while piping tests must include all portions of underground piping (that routinely contain petroleum).
To prevent leaks and spills, the New York State Legislature passed the Petroleum Bulk Storage (PBS) Law – Article 17, Title 10, of the Environmental Conservation Law – requiring DEC to develop and enforce a State code for storage and handling of petroleum. The regulations are found in Part 613 of Title 6 of the New York Codes
How often must Subpart 3 tank tightness / piping be tested?
TANKS – Subpart 3: USTs that are part of a Subpart 3 tank system must be tested for tightness at least every year.
Under the regulations, both the tank owner and the tank operator are responsible for having tanks and piping tested periodically by a qualified technician. Note: Tank owners/operators in New York City (NYC) are responsible for contacting the Fire Department (FDNY) prior to testing tank systems storing motor fuel.
The test report must include the test results, calculations, how depth to groundwater was determined, and all information required in section 613-3.3(c)(1)(ii)(b). A copy of this test report must be sent to the DEC Regional Office by the tank owner or the test technician, within thirty (30) days after the test is performed. The report must also be kept on file by the tank owner for at least three (3) years. Note that the means of determining the depth to groundwater is not required to be on the report for the separate piping test.
A failed tightness test indicates a suspected leak, which must be reported to the State Spill Hotline within two (2) hours by the tank owner or the tank operator. The toll-free State Spill Hotline is 1-800-457-7362 from within New York State, and 518-457-7362 when calling from outside the state. The next step is to quickly determine the source of the leak, whether tank or piping. Once the source is isolated, the tank system must be promptly emptied, and the leaking tank system component taken out-of-service and repaired or replaced in accordance with the PBS regulations (6 NYCRR 613-2.4(d)(2) for Subpart 2 UST systems and 613-3.4(d)(2) for Subpart 3 UST systems).
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