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SF Health Network
Environmental Health

Hazardous Materials and Waste Program: Underground Storage Tanks

The Hazardous Materials and Waste Program provides regulatory oversight for the construction, operation, repair and removal of underground storage tanks (UST) in San Francisco. The purpose of the regulation is to prevent releases of petroleum and other hazardous substances stored in USTs.

The program conducts all routine, construction, modification, repair and closure inspections of UST systems in San Francisco. Routine inspections are conducted annually. Construction, modification, repair and closure inspections are conducted by appointment with a minimum advance notification of 48 hours.

Business Responsibilities

  1. Obtain and maintain an operating permit for each UST that you operate.
  2. Obtain a UST closure permit prior to removing or closing a UST.
  3. Obtain a UST modification permit prior to modifying a UST system.

Obtaining a UST Operating Permit

Owners and/or operators of USTs are required to obtain a UST operating permit. Tank Operating permits are incorporated into the hazardous materials business plan program and issued as part of the Hazardous Materials Certificate of Registration.  To obtain a permit to operate a UST, visit the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS).

A permit application package must be submitted within thirty (30) days of installing a new UST system or changing the owner/operator of an UST site. An existing permit to operate the USTs at a given location may not be transferred to a new owner/operator.

Note: If your business falls under the requirements of any of the other program elements, those forms must also be submitted along with the required forms.

If you received an application and you have changed your business so that you no longer fall into ANY of the regulated programs, you must complete at Disclaimer Form (pdf). Upon receipt of the Disclaimer Form, a Hazardous Materials and Waste Program inspector will conduct an inspection to verify the disclaimer.

UST Modification/Repair or Installation

All work involving the installation, repair, or modification of an UST system must be performed by appropriately licensed and certified contractors who have obtained the required Modification/Repair or Installation permit from the Hazardous Materials and Waste Program. In addition to obtaining a permit from the Hazardous Materials and Waste Program, other agency permits may be required (see below). Persons wishing to perform UST installation, repair or modification work must contact each agency separately to determine their respective permit requirements.

The Hazardous Materials and Waste Program will typically issue a permit within 10 working days of submittal of a complete application.  To determine the minimum application requirements for obtaining an UST Installation, Modification/Repair permit, view the UST Installation/Modification Application (pdf).

All applications must be accompanied by a set of plans and equipment specifications list. These include:

  • Set of plans of the facility and UST system along with a list of specifications on all materials to be used in the construction.
  • Manufacturers’ cut sheets for tanks, piping and equipment (e.g. monitoring equipment, overspill containment device, overfill protection device, dispenser pan, etc.)
  • Copy of a current State Contractor’s License(A, C-36, C-61 D-40)
  • Copy of the ICC Certifications and Manufacturers’ certifications for installers and technicians
  • Payment of appropriate fees 

Permanently or Temporarily Closing a UST

USTs that are taken out of service for more than 30 days must be permanently or temporarily closed in accordance with all applicable requirements.  Both permanent and temporary closure requires pre-approval from the Hazardous Materials and Waste Program and may only be performed by appropriately licensed and certified contractors.  Only contractors that hold a Class A General Engineering Contractor, a C-10 Electrical Contractor License, a C-34 Pipeline Contractor License, C-36 Plumbing Contractor License, or a C-61 (D40) Limited Specialty Service Station Equipment and Maintenance Contractor License issued by the Contractors State License Board with a Hazardous Substances Removal Certification may perform UST Closure work.

The Hazardous Materials and Waste Program will typically issue written approval to close the tank within 10 working days of submittal of a complete application. The approval is valid for 90 days from the date of issuance and may be extended upon written request and review by the the Hazardous Materials Program. For more information on what is required, see the UST Closure Guidelines (pdf). When ready, download the UST Closure Application (pdf) and complete the application process. 

In addition to obtaining the required approval from the Hazardous Materials and WasteProgram, other agency permits are required (see below). Persons wishing to perform UST closure work must contact each agency separately to determine their respective permit requirements. Once all permit requirements have been satisfied, contractors should work closely with each agency to coordinate all required inspections. The Hazardous Materials and Waste Program inspects all UST closure sites by appointment. Appointments are scheduled based on inspector availability and require a minimum advance notification of 72 hours.

Related Agencies

You may need to contact the following agencies when installing, modifying, repairing or closing an UST system or system component:

San Francisco Fire Department Permit Section 415) 558-3300
Department of Public Works, Street Use & Mapping (415)554-5810
Bay Area Air Quality Management District (415)771-6000
Department of Building Inspection (415)558-6088
Department of City Planning (415)558-6377

Making a Complaint

To make a complaint regarding an underground storage tank, click here.