Tom Collins, Environmental Specialist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources prepared the following message to address flooding concerns in Iowa, but the actions described should be considered for all UST operators in the flood prone areas as well.
Beginning immediately, Iowa DNR UST Section will allow for flood prone underground storage tanks to be emptied of fuel and filled with water, temporarily. High fuel costs may prohibit using fuel as ballast. Owners and Operators must follow strict provisions provided by the DNR to assure no contaminated wastewater gets directly released to the environment.
Once a vac truck removes existing product from the tank, the tank may be filled with ballast water. Post flooding, ballast water must be removed by a third party vac truck operator and disposed of properly. Owners and Operators must check with local waste water authorities to determine if ballast water may be discharged into the sanitary sewer system. It is unlikely that sanitary systems will accept petroleum contaminated ballast water without first being tested and treated. At no time can this water be discharged directly to the environment or into a stormwater system.
PMCI (Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store of Iowa) members are encouraged to track sites and maintain proper manifests, locale of wastewater treatment/discharge, and companies providing this service. Documentation of the proper disposal of the petroleum contaminated tank ballast is required by the DNR. Field office personnel in Atlantic and Spencer are currently assisting communities with flood issues, and will visit affected tank sites over the next several weeks.