WASHINGTON, DC -- Not everyone recognizes the sheer volume of LUST in Rhode Island -- or sees that it can be hazardous to public health.  And while not all LUST is visible or above ground, it’s important to be responsible, proactive, and vigilant when it comes to addressing the issue of Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUST).


The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s (DEM) Office of Waste Management maintains an inventory of LUST sites and registered underground storage tanks (UST) facilities, which includes information on abandoned, in use, permanently closed, and temporarily closed USTs. 


Today, Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation announced DEM is getting $523,908 in new federal funding to protect human health and the environment from the dangers of leaking pollution from underground tanks.  The federal funds, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), may be used to promote programs to prevent and clean up petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks.  DEM utilizes this funding to stop gasoline and other chemicals from fouling groundwater in communities across the state.


Over the years, federal LUST funding has helped prevent countless releases of hazardous materials nationwide.


“It’s really important for property owners to know if the ground water and soil beneath their home or business is contaminated.  DEM staff does a good job making sure leaking tanks aren’t dirty secrets, but known quantities that can be properly addressed.  They ensure polluters come into compliance with state and federal standards,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.  “This federal funding enhances DEM’s ability to identify and prioritize problematic underground tanks so they can be cleaned up to protect public health.  We must ensure that families, communities, and businesses have safe, clean air and drinking water.  This federal investment will help keep that commitment by reducing pollution and preventing it from seeping into our water supply.”


“Leaking underground storage tanks are a dangerous hidden hazard,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  “This federal funding will boost DEM’s enforcement efforts to keep Rhode Islanders’ drinking water free of harmful pollutants.”


“Leaking underground storage tanks can contaminate drinking water and threaten the health and safety of Rhode Islanders,” said Rep. Jim Langevin. “I’m proud to deliver these federal dollars, so that DEM has the resources to clean up leaking underground storage tanks and protect our communities from potentially hazardous and dangerous pollution.”


“Early detection, corrective actions, and remediation of leaking underground storage tanks are critically important steps in protecting public health, safety, and the environment,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “Delivering this new federal funding to Rhode Island will help DEM in its mission to address leaking tanks, prevent the spread of harmful pollutants, and safeguard our water supplies and Rhode Islanders’ health.”


DEM may also use the federal funding to assess and cleanup petroleum releases from abandoned storage tanks that are no longer in use and where the owners of the tanks are either unknown or unable to pay for the cleanup. DEM partners with local contractors to clean up the contaminated sites and allow the areas to be reused once any public health concerns are removed.