DOLTON, Ill. — During the second week of July, I received a notice from the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) that stated all underground storage tank facilities were required to fulfill training requirements. The news to me was the date by which we were to comply—we had three weeks. I quickly faxed the memo over to the safety and compliance company we retain and asked their representatives to find out where and how we could complete the necessary training course.
We still have underground storage tanks for our solvents. The tanks were installed during our removal of older tanks in a previous cleanup requirement several years ago. Businesses greatly impacted by the new mandate are gasoline stations.
The memo stated that an Aug. 8 deadline affecting owners/users of underground storage tanks (UST) was approaching. The deadline pertained to the training requirements for the three classes of UST operators: A, B and C. It derives from a federal mandate that all states are required to meet. Completion of training through a course approved by the OSFM for the different levels of operators was required, along with certification to show proof of completion, by the August deadline.
The state fire marshal office’s website has links under “Petroleum and Chemical Safety” to choose training programs for all three classes of UST operators. (If you currently have an UST and have not completed the required training classes, you are in violation of the federal mandate.)
As I write this column, in early August, the OSFM’s Division of Petroleum and Chemical Safety states that it has been working with test providers to approve training programs in anticipation of the deadline. Ultimately, UST owners will be able to access and choose from the approved programs on the OSFM website for use with their employees.
“We anticipate having some providers’ training programs approved and listed for UST owners to choose from before July,” read the notice. “As additional programs are approved, they will be listed on the OSFM website. You are encouraged to check the OSFM website for updates.”
I like the “we anticipate” part of the memo. They give us just three weeks to locate a testing site, study for the three classes, attend the training sessions, and complete the three courses. All the while, the site identified just three course providers that could get us certified.
We obtained the names of three companies that could provide the testing. In order to comply in such a short time, one of my two sons attended a classroom session one afternoon for four hours and took the test. By attending in person, he was able to obtain his certificate of completion that day. This gave us time for my other son to take the class, too. There are also classes available online to complete the requirements. We fulfilled the mandate.
Certified Operator Classes are broken down to three classes, and each UST site must have all three:
Class A — Has primary responsibility to operate and maintain a UST. This includes management of resources and personnel to achieve and maintain compliance.
Class B — Addresses applicable UST regulatory requirements and standards in the field, including day-to-day aspects of UST operation, maintenance and recordkeeping of one or more USTs.
Class C — Is responsible for responding to alarms or other indications of emergencies caused by spills or releases.
Again, an approved/certified training course and exam had to be completed by Aug. 8 to comply. Operator requirements include repeat training every two years.
Individual UST sites, including dry cleaners that have tanks underground, must be in compliance. If you have a UST, I recommend checking with your state to determine how and where to get into compliance. Those of us with USTs must follow all the regulations, as well as undergo annual fire marshal inspections.