The Environmental Protection Agency announced today its allocation of $200 million in funds appropriated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – popularly known as the economic stimulus package, which President Obama signed into law on February 17. The EPA will use these funds for the assessment and cleanup of at least 1,600 leaking underground storage tanks throughout the country, creating or retaining “significant numbers of jobs” in the process.
According to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, the agency is “providing immediate growth opportunities across the nation, as well as long-term protection from dangerous pollution in the land and water.”
“EPA is putting people to work by serving our core mission of protecting human health and the environment,” Jackson explained.
Hundreds of thousands of storage tanks are buried throughout the country. Many of the tanks, some of which are several decades old, continue to leak fuel and other environmentally hazardous substances into the soil and groundwater. A hole the size of a pin head can release as many as 400 gallons of fuel into the ground and water table in one year, and 1 gallon of fuel renders 1 million gallons of water unpotable for humans and wildlife.
Nearly half of all Americans get their drinking water from underground sources – a fact that makes the identification and removal of leaking USTs imperative.
Removal of a leaking tank and cleanup of the contaminated area is a typically an expensive task. While liability for the tanks (and all removal and cleanup costs) normally falls on the tank owners, sometimes the EPA has to assume the expense of assessing, removing tanks, and cleaning up when the “responsible party is unknown, unwilling, unable, or the cleanup is an emergency response.”
Nearly $191 million of the stimulus money will go to all U.S. states and territories for leaking UST removal and environmental cleanup. $6.3 million will fund assessment and cleanup of sites in Indian territory. $3 million will be retained by the EPA for management and oversight.
Click here for more Information about UST program funding and the EPA’s implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act .