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ust in the ground

Underground Storage Tank Construction, Modification, or Removal

The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health (DEH), Hazardous Materials Division (HMD), Underground Storage Tank Program (UST), administers and enforces Federal and State laws and regulations and local ordinances for the construction/installation, modification, upgrade, and removal of USTs in San Diego County.

ATTENTION - CERS is now Available:  Starting January 1, 2013 all CUPA regulated businesses are required by law (Assembly Bill 2286) to submit business information electronically through the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS). Many of the Unified Program forms are no longer available on our website and instead must be completed online in CERS. This includes information related to Underground Storage Tanks (UST), hazardous waste tank closures, and Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act (APSA) documentation. For more information on creating a CERS account and submitting your UST documents electronically please visit our CERS Information Page.

Information by Topic

FAQsPlan Review Fees
Inspection ProceduresPlan Review
Re-Inspection ProceduresTank Interior Lining Inspection Requirements
Request a Plan Check Inspection

Technician Requirements


The law, regulations, and ordinances are designed to protect public health and the environment by reducing or eliminating accidental leakage or spills from USTs containing petroleum products or other hazardous substances to the State’s water resources.
Federal RegulationsCode of Federal Regulations (CFR), parts 280-281.
State Law and Regulations
California Health and Safety Code, Chapter 6.7, and the California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 23, more commonly called the "California Underground Storage Tank Regulations".
Local OrdinanceTitle 6, Division 8, Chapter 10 of the San Diego County Code.

The County UST program fulfills the following functions:

  • Plan Review: The program reviews permit applications and issues permits to construct, upgrade, repair, modify, or remove underground storage tanks systems. Modification includes the installation or replacement of any leak-detection equipment.
  • Field Inspections: Program staff inspect UST-related construction activities to ensure that State and County standards are being met.
  • Outreach Activities: Informational seminars on UST-related topics are periodically hosted by HMD-UST staff members for the regulated public and owners/operators of underground tank systems. In addition, the UST program periodically publishes a newsletter.

HMD staff also work in conjunction with Land and Water Quality Division Site Assessment and Mitigation (SAM) project managers on sites which have been determined to be impacted by an unauthorized release of a hazardous substance. Additional information regarding site investigation, mitigation, and monitoring may be found in the DEH SAM Manual.


Plan Review

Please refer to the UST Plan Check Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for detailed information on requirements for completing UST applications and thoroughly complete permit applications.

Be certain to include the following items on plans that you submit to the Department: 

  • Location of all existing and proposed structures.
  • Location of all existing underground tanks and piping (indicate if tanks are to be closed or replaced).
  • Location of all proposed tanks and piping.
  • Cross-section of the tank and piping system(s). This drawing must show secondary containment of tank(s) and piping, spill/overfill prevention devices, leak detection equipment with the correct number of sensing probes, and extension of all pipes and ancillary equipment to finish grade.
  • Location of underground utility vaults and lines.
  • Site plan showing site address, nearest cross street and property lines (scale and north arrow must be used.)
  • Three copies of plans and applications with the appropriate fees.

To obtain additional information about plan check procedures please call our UST Plan Check Technician at (858) 505-6976. 


Inspection Procedures

I. New UST system installations: Three field inspections are required.
Note: The tank set is not inspected by HMD staff. Instead, a completed tank manufacturer certification form is required from the contractor at the final inspection.

  • The first or initial inspection: This inspection includes a pressure test of all primary tanks(s) and piping.
  • The second inspection: The inspector will verify installation and witness testing of all secondary containment components {tank annular, secondary piping, double sumps and under dispenser containment (UDCs)}.
  • The final inspection: The inspector will verify the leak detection equipment for the UST system. The contractor must provide to the inspectors copies of the certification of tank installation, tank manufacturer's checklist, certification of the monitoring equipment, Enhanced Leak Detection (ELD) results, UST Facility Information Page, UST Tank Page (one per tank) and UST Installation Certification Installation/Modification (formerly forms A, B, and C, respectively), and the UST Monitoring and Response Plans.  Approval of the final inspection allows the operator to dispense fuel.  A final operating permit will be mailed to the facility within three weeks of the final inspection.
  • Plan Check Scheduling Request


II. Repairing or Modifying a UST System: Inspection requirements may vary depending on the nature of the work. The following inspections may be required based on the type of work performed:

  • Pipe replacement/repair or dispenser containment installation. Up to four inspections may be required which would include soil sampling, a pressure test on primary system, a test of the secondary containment components, and a final inspection.
  • Leak Detection Equipment Installation/Replacement. One inspection is required to verify that the leak detection devices are operational.
  • UST Interior Lining and Repair. Up to three inspections may be required based on the scope of work.

Miscellaneous. These may include turbine replacement/repairs, sump installation/repairs, and other tank system modifications. Contact staff for information on specific inspection requirements.

III. UST system removal/closure in place:

  • UST system removal. One inspection is required at the time of the system removal. Prior to the removal and the inspector’s arrival on site, the UST system including piping must be exposed to allow proper inspection and identification of sampling points. The tank must be triple rinsed/ decontaminated and the lower explosive limit (LEL) must be below 20% as determined by a calibrated combustible gas instrument (CGI). The waste (rinsate and sludge-bottom waste) must be transported by a licensed hazardous waste hauler (the waste hauler must provide a manifest number for the inspector’s paperwork).
  • UST closure in place. Tanks may be approved to be closed in place if it will compromise the structural integrity of the building, or create a health and safety issue. Closure in place permit applications require submitting a sampling protocol which is reviewed by staff. Two inspections are required. Initial soil and/or water sampling, and the closure by slurry fill. After the sampling protocol is approved, staff will witness the soil sampling (first inspection), and receive and review the soil and/or water analytical results before a closure inspection (second inspection) is scheduled. 


Reinspection Procedures

A reinspection and a reinspection fee will be required when the DEH inspector can not complete the required inspection including, but not limited to, the following conditions:

Tank Removals:

    • The contractor did not schedule the inspection with other agencies, when required (fire department, for example).
    • The contractor can not provide and /or maintain a safe working environment.
    • The product piping has not been exposed prior to the inspector’s arrival.
    • The tank (s) have not been cleaned or adequately cleaned, or the contractor does not properly inert the tanks.
    • No Combustible Gas Indicator (CGI) on site.

UST System Installations/Repairs/Modifications:

    • The contractor is not able to complete the work to meet all of the permit requirements to the inspector’s satisfaction within 30 minutes after the inspector’s arrival at the job-site. Example: a tank system is not able to hold pressure, and can not be repaired and re-pressurized within 30 minutes. Or, the system’s monitoring equipment is malfunctioning and can not be repaired within 30 minutes of the equipment's test-failure.
    • The scope of work or the equipment installed is different from what was approved on the permit.
    • The required tests and/or paperwork have not been completed and made available for the inspector’s review.
    • Failure to meet all the construction and monitoring requirements in the California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 23, and California Health & Safety Code, Division 20, Chapter 6.7.
    • The piping system or appurtenances (accessories) are not connected to the UST system.

UST Interior Line/Coat/Repair:

    • The contractor fails to meet the required health and safety guidelines.
    • Uniform hazardous waste manifest, ultrasonic test data, and/or certification from the "Special Inspector" have not been submitted, if required.
    • The data from the holiday test and integrity test (if required) is not sufficient.
    • The contractor does not provide a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) on site for all work involving entry into an underground storage tank. top

UST Plan Review & Inspection Fees

UST Plan Check Fees - Current Fiscal Year
If you are unsure as to how many inspections are required for a particular project, please contact Cecilia Lewallen, UST Plan Check Specialist at (619) 454-9915.


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