Storing E15

The U.S. EPA proposes compliance guidance
By Kris Bevill | January 17, 2011

As mid-level ethanol blends become more available, compatibility between those higher blends and underground storage tanks (UST) becomes a concern. In November, the U.S. EPA issued proposed guidance for owners and operators of retail fuel stations in an attempt to offer compliance measures to those who wish to add levels of ethanol greater than E10 to their list of available fuels. 

According to the EPA, there are at least 607,000 regulated USTs in the U.S. Owners have typically been able to prove compliance by using Underwriters Laboratories Inc.-approved equipment, but the EPA says many systems currently in use have not been tested for compatibility with ethanol blends greater than E10. The agency has proposed three compliance methods: certification or listing by an independent test laboratory, equipment manufacturer approval, or another state agency-approved method.

The Renewable Fuels Association says it agrees with the EPA’s proposals, but offers improvements to the required documentation. “There is a general lack of information as a result of ownership changes and the long-expected useful life of equipment,” RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen said. “Improved requisite information for UST and fuel handling equipment is necessary for the introduction of other new fuels and fuel blends.”

The American Petroleum Institute offered several suggestions regarding the EPA’s guidance, most of which addressed its concerns with E15 compatibility in legacy equipment. The group says it is conducting its own tests on UST system components with E15 and expects results in June. The EPA expects to issue its final guidance early this year, but API has requested the agency delay its final decision until its private E15 compatibility testing is complete.