Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Presented to the Faculties of the University of Pennsylvania in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Environmental Studies 2010.


This capstone project is a proactive approach to addressing a problem observed in many underground storage tank facilities; owners and operator failure to understand the Pennsylvania state regulations. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) enacted the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act in 1989. Now, twenty years later, government regulators are still struggling to achieve a high rate of compliance at storage tank facilities. Most of the non-compliant storage tank facilities in question are gas stations. Some of the factors contributing to the non-compliance are: limited understanding of the English language; complexity of the regulations; constant evolution of the regulations; and the ignorance of responsibility and consequences. In many cases, these impediments lead to an apathetic attitude toward the requirements. I have created a plain-language guidance document that explains storage tank systems and key regulations. My goal is to have the document published by the PA DEP so that it may be handed out to the regulated community. Over the next few years, Pennsylvania will be implementing a federally mandated operator training. This document would be a great complement to the training goals of the federal and state government agencies. In addition, achieving compliance at underground storage tank facilities is of great importance for protecting our groundwater supplies. Pennsylvania has had over 14,000 releases of regulated substances from storage tanks since 1989. Groundwater is an extremely valuable resource for drinking water purposes as well as for the natural environment. My document will assist storage take owners and operators in understanding the regulations, which will lead to a greater level of compliance with the regulations, and fewer release incidents.



Date Posted: 02 November 2010