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Environmental Health

Hazardous Materials & Waste Program: Aboveground Petroleum Storage
Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Tank Facility?

The Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act (APSA) defines a tank facility as any one, or a combination of 55-gallon or greater aboveground storage tanks or containers, including any piping that is integral to the tank, that contains a petroleum product and that is used by a single business entity at a single location or site.

Aboveground storage containers or tanks include oil-filled equipment (such as hydraulic systems/reservoirs and heat transfer systems) which have a petroleum storage capacity of 55 gallons or greater.


Which tanks are excluded from the definition of "aboveground storage tank?"

The following are excluded from the definition of "aboveground storage tank":

  •    A pressure vessel or boiler subject to part 6 of division 5 of the California Labor Code;

  •    A tank containing hazardous waste as defined in H&SC 25316(g), if the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has issued the owner/operator a hazardous waste facilities permit. The tank must be specifically included in the permit authorization (hazardous waste facility permit or Tiered Permit).

  •    An aboveground oil production tank subject to section 3106 of the California Public Resources Code.

  •    Oil filled electrical equipment, including, but not limited to, transformers, circuit breakers, or capacitors, if the oil-filled electrical equipment meets either of the following conditions:

  •    The equipment contains less than 10,000 gallons of dielectric fluid

  •    The equipment contains 10,000 gallons or more of dielectric fluid with PCB levels less than 50 parts per million, appropriate containment or diversionary structures or equipment are employed to prevent discharged oil from reaching a navigable water course, and the electrical equipment is visually inspected in accordance with the usual routine maintenance procedures of the owner or operator.

  •    A tank regulated as an underground storage tank under chapter 6.7 of the H&SC and Title 23 of the California Code of Regulations;

  •    Any transportation –related tank facility, subject to the authority and control of the US Department of Transportation as defined in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations.


What are Qualified Facilities?

A qualified facility is a smaller oil storage facility that is eligible for streamlined regulatory requirements:

  •    Self-certified Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan instead of one reviewed and certified by a Professional Engineer

  •    Streamlined integrity testing requirements

  •    Streamlined facility security requirements

The facility must have 10,000 gallons or less in aggregate aboveground oil storage capacity.

Qualified facilities are subdivided into two tiers, Tier I and Tier II Tank Facilities.


What are the differences and commonalities between Tier I and Tier II Tank Facilities?

Tier I facilities have no single container exceeding 5,000 gallons in capacity.

Tier II facilities have a single container greater than 5,000 in capacity.

Both Tier I and II facilities are tank facilities with (1) no more than 10,000 gallons total aggregate of petroleum based products aboveground, and (2) no single discharge to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines exceeding 1,000 gallons and no two discharges exceeding 42 gallons each within any 12 month period over the last 3 years.

Both Tier I and Tier II facility owners may self-certify their SPCC plans in lieu of a PE certified plan. Additionally, Tier I facilities may use the EPA SPCC Template for Tier I facilities to prepare their plan.


What is an Operator?

The tank facility operator is the person or business that is responsible for the day to day operations and control of the tank facility.


What are some common examples of petroleum products?

  •    Automotive Fuels and other petroleum-based internal combustion engine fuels

  •    Aviation Fuels

  •    Heating Oil and Distillates

  •    Fuel Oils and distillate fuels (turbine, boiler, and other types)

  •    Biodiesel Fuel (Unless 100% Biodiesel)

  •    Illuminating Oils (e.g. lamp oils)

  •    Gasoline and other fuel blending stocks

  •    Petroleum-based lubricating, tapping, seal, penetrating, machining, and road oils

  •    Petroleum Solvents

  •    Petroleum Spirits (mineral spirits, Stoddard solvent, paint thinners, etc.)

  •    Hydrocarbon liquids such as Napthas and naphthalenes of all types

  •    Olefins, alkanes, alkylates, aromatics

  •    Petroleum-based inks and ink extenders

  •    Oil-based paints, coatings, thinners and solvents

  •    Mineral oil (derived from petroleum)

  •    Crude Oil


What are some common examples of non–petroleum based products that are excluded from APSA but are subject the Federal SPCC rule?

  •    100% Biodiesel Fuel

  •    Oils derived from Vegetables and other Plants (e.g. Nuts, Seeds, fruits, kernels, etc.)

  •    Animal Fats and Greases


What tank facilities are conditionally exempt from the APSA requirement to prepare an SPCC Plan?

A tank facility located on a farm, nursery, logging site, or construction site, while still regulated under APSA, is conditionally exempt from the APSA requirement to prepare and implement an SPPC Plan if:

  •    No storage tank at the location exceeds 20,000 gallons; and,

  •    The cumulative storage capacity of the tank facility does not exceed 100,00 gallons


What are owners/operators of a Conditionally Exempted Tank Facility required to do?

  •    Submit a Tank Facility Statement and/or Business Plan with applicable fees.

  •    Conduct a daily visual inspection of any aboveground tank storing petroleum.

  •    Allow the local regulatory agency to conduct periodic inspection of the tank facility.

  •    If the local agency determines that secondary containment is necessary for the protection of the waters of the state, install a secondary means of containment for each tank or group of tanks where the secondary containment will, at a minimum, contain the entire contents of the largest tank contained within the secondary containment plus precipitation, determined by the local agency.


What is the difference between the Federal Oil Spill Prevention Program and APSA?

APSA is a state program and only pertains to tank facilities with aboveground storage of petroleum based liquids such as those outlined in above.

The Federal Oil Spill Prevention Program pertains to facilities with aboveground storage of petroleum or non-petroleum oils. See above for common examples of non-petroleum based oils.

Tank facilities that may be conditionally exempt from the requirement to prepare and implement an SPCC Plan under APSA are not exempt from federal SPCC requirements enforced by the US EPA.

Conversely APSA provides no exemptions for wastewater treatment systems or facilities similar to the exemption contained in the Federal SPCC regulation. Aboveground wastewater treatment systems (such as oil/water separators and other oil filled equipment) with a petroleum storage capacity of 55 gallons or greater are APSA regulated aboveground storage tanks.



Making a Complaint

If you would like to make a complaint regarding aboveground storage tanks, call 311.

311 City Customer Service Agency - Service 24x7

San Francisco Department of Public Health Environmental Health Branch