Discussion document: Review of the storage tank regulations


Regulatory stock review plan

The Cabinet Directive on Regulation sets out the Government of Canada’s expectations and requirements for developing, managing and reviewing federal regulations. It requires departments and agencies to regularly review existing regulations to ensure that they continue to be appropriate, effective and achieve intended policy objectives.

In accordance with the directive, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is undertaking a review of the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Product Regulations (the Regulations), which came into force in 2008, as part of the departmental Regulatory stock review plan. The objectives of the review of the Regulations are to ensure that:

Purpose of this discussion document

The document summarizes information on the Regulations and identifies specific areas in order to solicit feedback from Indigenous peoples and interested stakeholders.

All comments received will be considered when determining whether amendments to modify requirements set out in the Regulations are necessary to further improve and modernize the Regulations.


Description of the Regulations

The purpose of the Regulations is to reduce the risk of contaminating soil and groundwater due to releases of petroleum products and allied petroleum products from storage tank systems (STS). The Regulations establish technical standards for the design and installation of storage tank systems, and include requirements for operation, maintenance, removal, reporting and record keeping.  

The Regulations apply to storage tank systems that:

The Regulations do not apply to storage tank systems:

The regulated community consists of owners of storage tank systems such as:

The regulated community also includes persons who deliver product to regulated storage tank systems.

Previous amendments

The Regulations have been amended 3 times since their coming into force: in 2012, 2017 and 2020. In all cases, the amendments were minor including clarifications, updating references to standards already incorporated by reference, and correction of typographical errors. Over the past 13 years, no substantial requirements have been amended. 

Review topics

This section is organized using the same headings found in the Regulations. For each heading, the regulatory requirements are summarized, the specific discussion aspect is outlined followed by questions for which ECCC is seeking input.

The content and questions in each review topics aim to solicit feedback that aligns with current technology and industry best management practices. Overall, ECCC is seeking feedback on any challenges to complying with the regulations.

Consult the Tank Tip series of factsheets as needed to become more familiar with the requirements set out in the Regulations. For the complete requirements, consult the full text of the regulations.

While reading each review topic, keep in mind specific impacts or challenges that have arisen while implementing the regulations. For tips on how to provide your feedback, please refer to the "Providing feedback" section.

Definitions (section 1)

The purpose of the Interpretation section is to define terms used in the Regulations. ECCC is looking for input specifically on the following 3 definitions. However, comments on other definitions within the Regulations are also welcome.

Allied petroleum product

Allied petroleum product is defined as “a product set out in Schedule 1.” Schedule 1 of the Regulations lists 14 substances; 9 of these substances must meet a specific standard to be considered within the scope of the Regulations. Some standards are withdrawn and may not be replaced.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Transfer area and section 15

Presently, the Regulations provide a definition for “transfer area” which is referenced in section 15 as an area designed to contain any releases in liquid form in the environment that occur during the transfer process. This could be during product delivery/fuelling.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Temporary withdrawal

The Regulations do not define temporary withdrawal. The intent of the temporary withdrawal requirements is to ensure STS that will be put back into service are being maintained while they are temporarily withdrawn from service.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following: Are the obligations associated with temporary withdrawal clear for implementation purposes? 

Storage tank systems application (section 2)

The application provisions specify to whom and to which systems the Regulations apply. ECCC is reviewing exemptions found in the application provisions of the Regulations.

Indoor STS (subsection 2 [2] [a])

The Regulations exclude STS located in a building that provides secondary containment equivalent to a maximum hydraulic conductivity of 1 X 10-6 cm/s, on a continuous basis. It prevents product from reaching the environment in the case of a leak.

At a minimum, to meet the requirements for the current exemption, the building must be free of cracks and any openings to the environment (drains or door sills, for example) must be sealed. Most STS are not entirely located in a building meeting this maximum hydraulic conductivity of 1 X 10-6 cm/s, therefore, this requirement may not be necessary. It is not possible to exclude part of a system using 2(2)(a). The definition of a STS covers the whole system. Furthermore, multi-tank systems can be high-risk so excluding portions may increase the risk of a release to the environment.

ECCC would like additional feedback on the following: What impacts would arise if all indoor STS were subject to the Regulations?

2,500 L storage tank systems connected to heating appliances and emergency generators (subsection 2 [2] [c])

The Regulations exempt STS that have above-ground tanks in which the aggregate capacity of the tanks is 2500 L or less and the STS are connected to a heating appliance or emergency generator. The intent of the regulations is to prevent releases into the environment. The long-term goal of the Regulations was to minimize soil and groundwater contamination that results from the release of petroleum products and allied petroleum products from regulated storage tank systems. However, contaminated sites are still present on federal jurisdictions.

The Regulations do not define “emergency generator.”

ECCC is assessing the risk posed by these systems to determine the best instrument to manage these systems.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

General requirements (sections 3 to 13)

The intent of the General Requirements is to ensure the environmental risks posed by high-risk STS are mitigated and leaks are prevented. As part of these requirements, proper repairs to leaking systems must be completed to ensure the safety of users and to prevent spills and releases into the environment. If a storage tank system is found to be leaking or if a leak is suspected:

Potential prohibition and requirement

In order to avoid high-risk systems, ECCC is assessing the benefits of prohibiting all single walled underground tanks and piping, regardless of the year of installation, and looking at potential requirements for damaged/faulty tanks or components that are currently in operation.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Use of secondary containment (section 13)

The Regulations define secondary containment as a containment that prevents liquids that leak from a storage tank system from reaching outside the containment area and includes double-walled tanks and piping, liners and impermeable barriers. Secondary containment that is exterior to a tank, for example, an impermeable dike around a tank cannot be used for storage. Naturally occurring materials such as snow and rain can also present a problem as they may accumulate in the secondary containment, thereby reducing the secondary containment capacity and increasing the risk of a potential release into the environment. Therefore, accumulated snow and rain should be removed from the secondary containment within a reasonable time frame.

 ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Compliance with requirements (design/installation, section 14)

The purpose of the compliance with requirements section on design and installation is to specify mandatory technical standards and establish prescribed requirements for the design and installation of storage tank systems.

Under the current Regulations, storage tank systems installed after June 12, 2008, must:

A standard “is a document developed under an accredited process that provides specifications, characteristics, guidelines, or requirements to ensure the consistency and usability of materials, products, processes, and services”Footnote 1 . The Regulations incorporate by reference a number of standards or codes, and in doing so the respective standard or code becomes a mandatory requirement of the Regulations and is enforceable.

The Regulations incorporate by reference certain provisions of the Environmental Code of Practice for Aboveground and Underground Storage Tank Systems Containing Petroleum and Allied Petroleum Products, PN 1326 (PDF, 749 KB) established by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME Code).These provisions from the CCME Code incorporate by reference design and inspection standards or codes such as Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC), National Fire Code of Canada (NFC) and Canadian Standards Association B139 Installation Code for Oil Burning Equipment (CSA B139); these incorporated document’s provisions are also enforceable.

Tanks, piping, and other components of storage tank systems must bear certification marks certifying conformity with the standards referenced in the Regulations. If these components do not bear a certification mark of one of the standards referenced in the Regulations, then they cannot be used.

 Considerations for the compliance with requirements:

In short, ECCC is seeking input on any relevant standards and innovative technologies to align with other Canadian, provincial, and international jurisdictions.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Compliance with requirements (product transfer areas, section 15)

The Regulations require that product transfer areas be designed to contain releases in liquid form in the environment prior to the first transfer. The Regulations also reference the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) for releases. The intent of this performance-based requirement is to allow designers, installers, owners and operators to risk managing the transfer areas by considering elements such as infrastructure, personnel training, or operation protocols. The requirement applies to a system if the aggregate capacity of its tanks is greater than 2,500 litres. The Regulations define a transfer area as “the area around the connection point between a delivery truck, railcar, aircraft or vessel and a storage tank system […]”. In other words, it is the area where product is transferred to or from a railcar, aircraft, vessel or delivery truck.

The intent behind designing a product transfer area is to allow regulatees to assess their systems for potential releases while transferring the product, and determining the probabilities and consequences of such incidents, so that actions/conceptual designs can be put in place to contain releases into the environment.

In summary, this performance-based requirement is to allow for different strategies for compliance with the requirement to have a product transfer area designed to contain releases and reduce spills in a manner, which will protect the environment and perhaps minimize their future clean-up costs.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Leak detection (sections 16 to 27)

The purpose of conducting leak detection and tank inspections is to identify the changing conditions of a storage tank system. With regular leak detection and monitoring the risk of release is reduced.

The Regulations prescribe leak detection and monitoring requirements for storage tank systems that were installed before June 12, 2008. However there are no leak detection requirements for:

A corrosion analysis program may be used to fulfill requirements for leak detection and monitoring. The Regulations are not prescriptive regarding the contents of a corrosion analysis program, beyond specifying that it must be developed and conducted by a corrosion expert and include at least an annual inspection.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Identification (section 28)

The intent of the identification requirements is to ensure ECCC officials have a fulsome and up-to-date profile of the systems under federal jurisdiction and to ensure delivery personnel are aware that they are filling a registered STS. All storage tank systems must be identified. Identification records must be updated within 60 days if there are any changes to the information required for the identification.

The Regulations require that the identification number be displayed “in a readily visible location on or near the storage tank system for which the number was issued”.  There is no prescribed way of marking the tank. 

Considerations for identification:

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Delivery of petroleum products or allied petroleum products (section 29)

The purpose of this section is to ensure delivery personnel supplies fuel solely to identified tank systems, reports release incidents and keeps a record of the identification number of the STS.

Considerations for delivery of products:

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Emergency plan (sections 30–32)

The Regulations require that regulatees have an emergency plan for each storage tank system. This plan must be ready to be implemented before the first transfer of products into the system. Releases (for example, leaks), fires and other accidents can happen, and regulatees must have an emergency plan to prevent and limit environmental damage and minimize the danger to people. Emergency plans may help to reduce clean-up costs by responding to emergencies safely, quickly, and effectively.

Considerations for emergency plan:

ECCC would like to learn more about the challenges related to the implementation of the emergency plan in terms of administration and execution.

Installation of storage tank systems (sections 33–34)

The purpose of the installation provisions is to minimize releases of products to the environment by ensuring that a STS is properly designed and installed. Overall, STS must be installed by a person specified in the Regulations and the design and as-built drawings must be stamped and signed by a professional engineer.


The intent of section 33 is to ensure that STS are installed by people qualified by the province in which the system is to be installed. Some provinces or territories do not approve installers; therefore, installations in these jurisdictions must be supervised by a professional engineer.

ECCC is looking at the existing Canadian certification program and soliciting inputs on any challenges owners are facing to get qualified people to install their STS.

Design and drawing

The intent of section 34 is to record limited aspects of installation of new aboveground or underground storage tank systems (new construction project) and its physical environment at final specifications as it is constructed which include the outline of all tanks, the centreline of all piping, the centrelines of all underground electrical power and monitor sensor conduits, the building foundation outlines, the property lines, and the secondary containment.

Considerations for design and commissioning:

ECCC is looking at practices related to preparing design, as built and record drawings for different types of STS for either new or upgraded installations.

Qualifications and drawings for some aboveground storage tank

“Standalone aboveground storage tank”, such as small capacity used oil, dispensing and utility tanks, as well as generator sets (Genset) containing a sub tank, are designed to ensure rapid installation and commissioning. “Standalone aboveground storage tank” may also be relocated during their life cycle. ECCC is reviewing the necessary qualifications to install standalone systems and what drawing documentation is required.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following: What is the common practice in the industry when “standalone type tanks” are installed? Are design and other drawings required, if so, who signs off on them? Who is authorized to install and move them?

Operation and maintenance (sections 35–40)

The current purpose of the operation and maintenance provisions is to minimize risk of contamination primarily from oil-water separators (OWS) and water bottom. At the time the Regulations were published, no other maintenance work was considered.

Considerations for maintenance: To ensure that STS are functioning properly, frequent inspections performed by qualified people help to maintaining the systems and increasing their life expectancy while reducing the risk of system failure.

ECCC is considering different options for testing STS based on their type and components as part of their operation and maintenance.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Oil-water separators

Currently, oil-water separators (OWS) must be maintained by taking monthly measurements of oil layers or having a continuous monitoring system and have procedures for the proper disposal of free oil, separated solids and discharged water.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Water bottom removal

The Regulations do not require inspection to determine if tanks contain bottom water but rather provide requirements for how to dispose of it. According to the industry, water contamination of fuel is becoming more and more frequent and accelerates corrosion of metallic components. This excess water could lead to corrosion and eventual tank failure, which can potentially cause releases to the environment. In addition, poor fuel quality can damage engines. Internal corrosion can be controlled by the establishment of maintenance procedures based on testing and removal of water and solids from the bottom of the tank.

To align with best management practices and other Canadian jurisdictions, ECCC is assessing annual water bottom inspection for some steel tanks to avoid premature wear and risk of releases to the environment.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Release report (section 41)

The purpose of the release reports provisions is to track actual and potential releases of petroleum and allied petroleum to the environment from STS under federal jurisdiction and to protect the environment, public safety and human health. In the event of a release into the environment:

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following: If all releases are to be reported regardless of quantity or location, what would be the impact on the regulated community?

Withdrawal from service (section 42)

The Regulations prescribe 2 ways that a STS or any component of it may be withdrawn from service:

As mentioned in the definition section (3.1), ECCC is looking for feedback as to whether further clarification may be required for  “temporarily withdrawn from service” under various circumstances (for example, tank usage, relocation and type of repair). 

Consideration for withdrawal from service: In other jurisdictions, there are withdrawal requirements with associated timelines to give options for the reinstallation, re-use or disposal.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following: What activities related to withdrawal from service should be considered? Examples: intended usage, duration, etc.

Temporary withdrawal from service (section 43)

The intent of the temporary withdrawal requirement is to ensure STS are being maintained while they are temporarily withdrawn from service with the intention to put them back in service.

While the STS is temporarily out of service, leak detection and maintenance are required. 

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Permanent withdrawal from service (section 44)

The purpose of the permanent withdrawal from service is to establish specific minimal operation requirements to withdraw an unused system to protect the environment and human health.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following: Would reporting additional details about the permanent withdrawal to ECCC help with data management? Examples: Reason for withdrawal, confirmation if tanks, system was replaced or not, information on party performing withdrawal, etc.

Removal of storage tank systems (section 45)

The intent of the removal requirement is to physically remove the STS (for example, from the ground for UST) by a certified person or supervised by a professional engineer as soon as possible if the system is out of service permanently, in order to avoid contamination of soil and groundwater, and subsidence of surrounding soil.

ECCC is looking for comments on the existing requirements to ensure the concept is clear which is to dispose the STS or component with the intent of preventing potential long-term contamination.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Consideration for removal: It may not be possible to remove a storage tank system for reasons including ecological, heritage, historical, structural, or other substantial reasons.

ECCC is looking for specific examples when it is not possible to remove some parts of a STS and what is being done to avoid contamination and soil failure or other negative impacts related to abandonment. Under what specific circumstances and conditions would a storage tank or components be abandoned in place? What are regulatees doing to prevent contamination? What records are being kept for historic, further site use and insurance purposes?

Record keeping (section 46)

The purpose of record keeping provisions is to provide proof of proper STS maintenance, installation, withdrawal, removal, etc., by recording activities that may result in the release of petroleum or allied petroleum products. Records allow owners and operators to track life cycle activities and potential leak trends allowing for better decision-making. Records must be kept for different lengths of time and location for different requirements.

Considerations for record keeping:

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following: What would be the impacts if some requirements were imposed on operators to keep records of the work maintenance and service work performed on storage tank systems? If so, what would be the additional level of effort. 

Schedule 2

The purpose of Schedule 2 is to specify the information identifying to be submitted to ECCC.

ECCC is looking for feedback on the following:

Next steps

The key targets for the stock review process are outlined below: 

Providing feedback

Here are some suggestions for preparing your comments. You may wish to follow the template in the Annex I. In addition to comments on Review Topics described, any other comments related to the review are also welcomed.

 Broad questions:

Contact information

You are invited to provide feedback and perspectives on the consultation topics described above by October 10, 2022, to ensure that they are considered as part of ECCC’s stock review process.

Please send your comments on this discussion document to the email or mailing address below. Please indicate “Discussion Document—Review of the Storage Tank Regulations” in the subject line of your message.

In addition, should you be interested in an information session to give you the opportunity to ask questions prior to submitting written comments, please indicate “Discussion Document—Review of the Storage Tank Regulations and Information Session” in the subject line of your message.

If you have any questions with respect to the consultation process, the discussion document, or the Regulations, please contact us at the email address or the telephone number indicated below.

ECCC welcomes the distribution of this document to other potential interested parties. Anyone wishing to be on our contact list to receive information related to the Regulations, please contact us at the email address above.

Annex I: Proposed template for recording comments on the Regulations

Examples of how to fill out the table are provided. Delete the current text if you intend to use this template.

Topic/questions   Section of the Regulations Issue (operational, administrative, conflict, financial/economic, quality assurance, technical, environment quality) Suggestions to address the identified issue 
Emergency plan 33 Administrative burden Example: To avoid frequent update of the plan, insert position title rather than individual’s name
Repairs—Is it possible to increase assurance that repairs are well done to prevent releases of products from the storage tank system? 3(1) Quality assurance  Example: Repairs are inspected by a person approved to do so before the system is put back into service and keep a record of the inspection
As-built drawing 34 Conflict with Professional Engineer Association ...

Annex 2:  Summary of questions

The questions in this Annex are the same as those in the Discussion Document and are intended to help guide the reader to provide their issues related to the management of their storage tanks. However, the reader should not limit their comments to only these questions. The questions are organized based on the review topics using the same headings found in the Regulations.

Definitions (section 1)

Storage tank system application (section 2)

General requirements (section 3 to 13)

Compliance with requirements (design/installation, section 14)

Compliance with requirements (transfer area, section 15)

Leak detection (sections 16 to 23)

Identification (section 28)

Delivery of petroleum products or allied petroleum products (section 29)

Emergency plan (sections 30-32)

Installation of storage tank systems (sections 33-34)

Operations and maintenance (sections 35-40)

Release report (section 41)

If all releases are to be reported regardless of quantity or location, what would be the negative impact on the regulated community?

Withdrawal from service (sections 42 to 44)

Removal of storage tank systems (section 45)

Record keeping (section 46)

What would be the impacts if some requirements were imposed on operators to keep records of the work maintenance and service work performed on storage tank systems? If so, what would be the additional level of effort?

Schedule 2

Broad questions

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