epaLOUISVILLE, Ky. (4/12/19) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $1,170,000 grant to the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection to assist the state in cleaning up petroleum contamination from leaking underground storage tanks throughout the state. This grant is funded through the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund to support state efforts to address this type of contamination. States may use these funds to support staff that oversee the cleanup projects or to pay for contractual services to perform cleanup projects.

“Working through our state partners, EPA’s $1.1 million grant to Kentucky will help clean up releases from leaking underground storage tanks and protect vital sources of drinking water, a priority for the Agency,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These federal funds support state implementation of meaningful environmental programs, such as protection of groundwater, a critical source of drinking water throughout American communities.”

EPA Acting Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker said, “This grant will help protect citizens and the environment in Kentucky by supporting the state’s efforts to both clean up and prevent petroleum releases from underground storage tanks.”

Last fiscal year, Kentucky reported 109 new confirmed discharges, 162 cleanups completed and 636 remaining to be addressed. Kentucky’s goals for this year are to complete 130 cleanups and to further reduce confirmed releases at underground storage tank facilities by 5% compared to last year.

A portion of the funds can be used by the state to carry out enforcement, corrective action and cost recovery activities. To the extent the state is successful in recovering LUST Trust Fund expenditures—including interest—from liable owners/operators, it will dedicate and use these funds for additional LUST cleanup activities.

In 1986, Congress created the LUST Trust Fund to address petroleum releases from federally regulated USTs by amending Subtitle I of the Solid Waste Disposal Act. In 2005, the Energy Policy Act expanded eligible uses of the trust fund to include certain leak prevention activities.

The LUST Trust Fund provides money to oversee cleanups of petroleum releases by responsible parties; enforce cleanups by recalcitrant parties; pay for cleanups at sites where the owner or operator is unknown, unwilling or unable to respond, or which require emergency action; and conduct inspections and other release prevention activities. The trust fund is financed by a 0.1 cent tax on each gallon of motor fuel sold nationwide.

Approximately 550,379 USTs nationwide store petroleum or hazardous substances. The greatest potential hazard from leaking USTs is that the petroleum or other hazardous substance can seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater, the source of drinking water for nearly half of all Americans. A leaking tank can also present other health and environmental risks, including the potential for fire and explosion.

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