Ethanol not to blame for Florida storage tank requirements

By Kris Bevill | August 10, 2009
Report posted Aug. 28, 2009, at 12:21 p.m. CST

Retail gas station owners in Florida have recently expressed frustration with a rule requiring that secondary containment tanks must be installed with underground fuel storage units by the end of this year. The requirement is meant to protect Florida groundwater; however some station owners are blaming the upcoming E10 mandate for the changes.

Bill Burns, environmental administrator at Florida's environmental protection agency, said the storage tank replacement requirement was put in place by the state legislature in 1990, well before an ethanol mandate was even in consideration. However, Florida's E10 mandate will begin in 2010, which could be why some station owners are confused.

"[The requirement] has all to do with protecting Florida's groundwater from leakage and nothing to do with ethanol," Burns said. "I think everyone is mixing terms up. There are some requirements that require line changes on the dispenser to accommodate ethanol-blended fuel, when using higher blends, but that's been known for years."

The agency has been reminding facility owners of the Dec. 31, 2009, containment tank deadline annually since 2007. According to Burns, as of Jan. 2009 nearly 80 percent of the state's 9,283 facilities that are required to upgrade storage tanks had done so. Station owners who have not completed upgrades or have contracts in place for upgrades by the deadline will be forced to either take the tanks out of service until upgrades are complete or permanently close them.

Questions regarding the tank replacements should be directed to the Florida EPA.