A 5-year law extension, signed during the budget debate last week by Governor Corbett, will enable the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to continue to carry out its job of preventing and cleaning contamination caused by abandoned and/or leaking underground storage tanks. The program, which would have expired Saturday, has been extended through June 30, 2017.
Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) said the plan is to continue to face the issue head-on before it gets out of hand. "This program has been wildly successful. This bill would extend it another five years so that we can get those old, deteriorating storage tanks out of the ground, clean up the mess before it becomes widespread and more costly to Pennsylvania taxpayers," Yudichak said.
The program authorizes the DEP to use money from the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund (USTIF) to clean target sites when there is no clear responsible party. There are currently 25 cleanups in progress in the state and another 23,436 actively regulated underground storage tanks.
"In northeastern Pennsylvania, a lot of old gas stations that are out of business now and maybe didn't upgrade their tanks for the last 10-15 years, this is exactly the kind of businesses that we want to help," Yudichak said.
The fund also allows for the DEP to provide reimbursement grants of up to $4,000 to owners of underground heating oil storage tanks with a capacity of up to 3,000 gallons. Up to $2,500 may be awarded to individuals who have small underground tanks on their property that need to be pumped out, cleaned, and then plugged.