Pennsylvania Governor Corbett Signs Legislation to Renew PADEP Storage Tank Programs
Governor Tom Corbett signed into law extensions of two important programs that enable the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) to prevent and clean up contamination due to abandoned or leaking underground storage tanks. The programs, which were set to expire June 30, are extended through June 30, 2017.
“In addition to carrying out cleanups that protect public health and the environment from leaking fuel tanks, these programs also allow us to work with homeowners and small businesses to respond to heating oil spills and old tanks,” PADEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “I thank the legislature for taking swift action on this issue.”Amendments to the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act in 1998 created the Underground Storage Tank Environmental Cleanup Program and the Underground Storage Tank Pollution Prevention Program.The cleanup program authorizes PADEP to use money from the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund (USTIF) to clean up sites contaminated by old or leaking underground fuel tanks, typically when there is no financially solvent responsible party. PADEP is currently involved with 25 such cleanups across the state. USTIF is supported by fees paid by tank owners on petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel and kerosene.The cleanup program also allows PADEP to provide reimbursement grants of up to $4,000 to owners of underground storage tanks, with a capacity of 3,000 gallons or less, for cleaning up heating oil releases.The pollution prevention program provides funding of up to $2,500 per tank to individuals who have small underground tanks on their property that need to be pumped out, cleaned and plugged.There are 23,436 actively regulated underground storage tanks in Pennsylvania.For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us
or call 717.783.9475.
PADEP Offers Tips to Residents on Wetland, Stream Projects
The PADEP is reminding homeowners and landowners who are conducting work in or along streams and wetlands that a permit may be required from PADEP or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Homeowners and landowners may not be aware that state or federal law requires a PADEP permit for certain types of work they want to do on their own property,” PADEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “PADEP is here as a resource and a partner for Pennsylvanians who are planning any activity in or around streams and wetlands, so that their work can be done safely and without harming the environment or downstream neighbors.
“Just like the Public Utility Commission’s ‘PA One Call’ for excavators, the best first step for homeowners and landowners is to call the local DEP office to find out what is required before any work begins.”
During the summer months, PADEP typically receives a higher volume of complaints from the public regarding work in streams and wetlands. PADEP frequently finds that a number of activities have occurred without permits, including dredging, which is cleaning out a stream; ditching, defined as filling in or draining wetlands; placing fill in a floodway to build up the property; relocating a stream; stabilizing a stream bank; and installing culverts, bridges, boat docks or ramps.
Residents should follow these tips when conducting stream activities:
- If there are low-lying, wet areas on the property that a landowner would like to fill in, consult first with the PADEP Waterways and Wetlands program that serves your county.
- Do not mow or cut trees and shrubs along a stream’s edge. This can potentially lead to stream-bank erosion. Leaving a buffer along the edge of a stream or wetland is an effective way to increase a stream bank’s stability, reduce stream bank erosion, increase wildlife habitat and provide a pollutant filtering area for surface water that drains through the buffer.
- If a project is being planned in a stream channel or floodway, work should not be conducted without the required permits within the channel or 50 feet from the top of the stream bank. A stream’s floodway is typically 50 feet from the top of each stream bank unless a detailed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood study determines that the floodway is smaller or larger than 50 feet. FEMA floodplain study information can be found at local township and borough offices.
- Filling, ditching or draining of a wetland requires a permit from PADEP and the Army Corps.
For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on “Regional Resources” to determine which regional office serves your county, then contact that office using the below list. More information is also available at www.fema.gov and www.usace.army.mil.
PADEP has six regional Waterways and Wetland offices that can be reached at the below numbers.
Southwest Regional Office: 412.442.4314
South-central Regional Office: 717.705.4802
Southeast Regional Office: 484.250.5970
Northeast Regional Office: 570.826.2511
North-central Regional Office: 570.327.0529
Northwest Regional Office: 814.332.6984