The main responsibility of Sanitary Engineers is the inspection, regulation and enforcement of Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) which can be found under most every police station, school and hospital, in addition to common gas stations and auto repair shops. USTs are structures placed underground to store gasoline, diesel, heating oil, kerosene or waste oil—products we must keep from being released into the ground and contaminating the environment.
Before being promoted to Sanitary Engineer II, Omar was responsible for unannounced visits to UST facilities across the state, to assure that the owners and operators of these tank systems were following the regulations in place. He regulated the installation, performance, use, delivery and removal of these UST systems and ensured that owners and operators completed their daily Inventory Reconciliations—a crucial way to quickly detect inventory discrepancies and a possible loss of product.
These regulations are important for the overall well-being of our state, especially since Connecticut is built on so much bedrock—historically difficult to recover free product and clean up after a toxic release. In addition, there are approximately 6,000 farms and roughly 1/3 of all CT citizens are currently utilizing wells as their primary source of water. Omar can remember one case in particular where a gas station’s owner and operators were egregiously non-compliant, resulting in over 3,000 gallons of gasoline being released into the local community. Because Daily Inventory Reconciliations were not being performed, compounded by the improper decommissioning of a pipe that manifolds two tanks, weeks went by before the owner realized there may be a problem. Members of the UST Enforcement team performed an inspection and determined that the site was in noncompliance for failing to perform proper release detection. Further investigation, which included comparison of sales receipt data and recent product delivery amounts, confirmed that a release had occurred. Had the owner been reconciling the inventory daily as required, the release would have been detected and reported much sooner, resulting in an immediate response and a significant reduction of the impact to the environment.
As a Sanitary Engineer II, Omar is one of the primary administrators of enforcement. Therefore, when inspectors report sites that were found to be in violation of UST regulations, in many cases, Omar brings actions against those bad actors. These actions can come in many different forms, depending on the length, severity, and overall risk to human health and the environment. While most are resolved with Consent Orders, which are almost always accompanied by a significant civil penalty, some require the Attorney General’s involvement and others are forwarded as criminal referrals.
If it wasn’t for state employees, like Omar, Connecticut’s environment would be in a dangerous predicament. Nationally, USTs were previously the largest source of underground contamination of ground water and wells until Sanitary Engineers like Omar stepped up.