California UST Operator Training

UST Operator Training

UST Operator Certification Procedures

System Operator Training
In California, UST System Operators can only be certified after taking and passing the exam administered by the International Code Council (ICC) through Pearson VUE testing centers.  Getting ready for the ICC exam(s) is a three-step process:

Step One: Take the PASS ICC Preparatory Course
PASS is the only training provider approved by the ICC to offer preparatory training for the ICC UST/AST operator exams.  These ICC preparatory courses do not include a final exam or provide certification upon completion and are not required to take, but they will provide you with the information and guidance you need to study and prepare for the exams.

 Step Two: Read the UST/AST Examination Information Bulletin and Prepare Your Reference Materials
First, you should read the UST/AST Examination Information BulletinYou may also call the ICC at 1-888-ICC-SAFE (422-7233), ext. 5524 to request a paper copy of the Bulletin.
Pay particular attention to the information on your state’s exams. Specific exam information usually begins around page 24 in the Bulletin and includes the number of exam questions, the exam fee, the type of exam, and the list of reference materials.
Most ICC UST/AST operator exams are open books, which means that you may take certain documents (called reference materials) with you into the exam room and refer to them during the exam. The ICC, however, has strict requirements about which reference materials you can take into the exam with you and in what format. PASS strongly recommends that you obtain your reference materials well in advance of taking the exam.
Which reference materials do I need? How do I get them?
The reference materials you need are listed in the UST/AST Examination Information Bulletin. They typically include the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) UST regulations (40 CFR §280), the state’s UST regulations (which usually can be found on the state UST program’s website), and one or more of the following EPA publications, any of which can be downloaded here or through a PASS ICC preparatory course.
Your reference materials list may also include publications of the Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI), which you must purchase through PEI’s online storeTypically, these include PEI/RP 500 Recommended Practices for Inspection of Motor Fuel Dispensing Equipment and PEI/RP 900 Recommended Practices for Inspection and Maintenance of UST Systems.  You may also be able to purchase these bundled with your state’s other reference materials through the ICC’s online store.
How do I prepare my reference materials? You may take only the reference materials listed in the current UST/AST Examination Information Bulletin with you into the exam. In order to be able to take them into the exam, you should prepare them as follows.
If you do not follow these steps, the Pearson Vue test center personnel will not let you take your materials into the exam room and you will not be able to use them during the exam.
  1. STAPLE OR BIND YOUR MATERIALS.  You may not take loose pages into the exam room, so we recommend that you print the reference materials and either staple them together or place them in a three-ring binder.
  2. MAKE NOTES. You may make notes in your reference materials as long as the notes are in ink and any highlighting is done before you arrive for the exam. For example, you should locate and mark in the reference materials information such as your state’s allowable release detection methods, allowable financial responsibility mechanisms, recordkeeping requirements, operator retraining requirements, etc. This will make it easier to find the information during the exam itself. PASS’ ICC preparatory courses make this easier by giving you rule citations or page numbers keyed to your reference materials.
  3. USE TABS.  You may also use tabs to mark important sections, but these tabs must be permanently attached and not be removable without damage to the page (removable post-it type tabs, for example, would not be allowed).
Step Three:  Schedule Your Exams
ICC exams are offered periodically at Pearson VUE testing centers around your state. When you are ready to take your exams, you can register online at or by calling Pearson VUE at 1-800-275-8301.

Class C (Facility Employee) Training
Class A/B operators are responsible for training and certifying their Class C operators. PASS’ Class C operator training meets state and federal operator training requirements and may be used by Class A/B operators to train their C operators.

Registration & Fees

  • Each UST facility must have a valid Permit to Operate issued by the local agency.  For new facilities, or within 30 days of any change to the facility’s information, the owner/operator must submit operating permit application forms for each tank and for the facility, unless the local agency requires prior approval.  These application forms must be accompanied by a Certification of Financial Responsibility, UST Monitoring Plan, and UST Response Planalong with any required fees.
  • A permit to operate will be valid for 5 years, at which time the owner/operator must submit new application forms.  Before a renewal permit is issued, however, the local agency will inspect the UST facility to ensure it is operating in compliance with UST regulations.

Release Reporting

A spill or overfill of petroleum product in excess of 25 gallons or that causes a sheen on nearby surface water must be reported to your local agency within 24 hours of discovery.  Smaller spills or overfills must be reported if they are not cleaned up within 24 hours.  Information about the spill will be used to complete a UST Site Unauthorized Release/Contamination Report, which must then be submitted to the local agency.
If an emergency situation exists, you must also notify the California Office of Emergency Services (OES) Warning Center at 800-852-7550.

Release Detection

UST facilities in California must be monitored for releases at least once every 30 days.  Allowable release detection methods in California include:
  • Automatic Tank Gauge (ATG);
  • Secondary containment with interstitial monitoring;
  • Statistical Inventory Reconciliation (SIR);
  • Manual tank gauging;
  • Tank tightness testing;
  • Inventory control;
  • Other method approved by the local agency.

Release Prevention

  • In California, spill buckets must have a minimum capacity of 5 gallons.
  • Overfill protection devices used in California must have no manual override and meet one of the following criteria:
    1. Device activates at 90% capacity and restricts flow or triggers an audible or visual alarm;
    2. Device activates at 95%, restricts flow, and activates audible alarm five minutes before overfill;
    3. Device activates at 95% and provides positive shut-off of flow to the tank; or
    4. Device activates before fittings are exposed to product and provides positive shut-off.

Financial Responsibility

California follows the federal financial responsibility coverage amounts found in 40 CFR §280.93 (scroll to page 77 of 119 in the pdf document) and 23 CCR §2807 (scroll to page 14 of 52).  The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)offers a “Financial Responsibility Guide,” which you may access online.
An owner/operator must submit a completed Certification of Financial Responsibility form to the local regulatory agency when applying for or renewing a permit to operate.  In addition, the owner/operator must submit the appropriate documentation to the local agency:
  1. Within 30 days after identifying a reportable release at the UST facility; or
  2. If the owner/operator fails to obtain alternate coverage within 30 days of receiving notice of a voluntary or involuntary bankruptcy in which a financial assurance provider is named as a debtor, the suspension or revocation of a financial assurance provider’s authority, the failure of a guarantor to meet the requirements of the financial test, or any other incapacity of a financial assurance provider.

Inspection & Testing Requirements

UST System Operators must conduct a monthly visual inspection of each UST facility for which they are designated and record the results on a California Monthly Inspection Checklist or a local agency-specific checklist.  The checklists and attachments must be retained at the UST facility for twelve months.

Delivery Prohibition/Non-Compliance Enforcement

In California, Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPAs) and Program Agencies (PAs) enforce UST regulatory compliance.  If a CUPA or PA inspector determines that a UST or UST system is out of compliance with state or federal UST regulations, the inspector will immediately affix a red tag to the fill pipe or issue a Notice of Significant Violation to the owner/operator.  Owners/operators who receive a Notice of Significant Violation for a UST system must correct the violation(s) within 7 days of receipt of the notice.  Once the violations have been corrected, the owner/operator must notify the local agency, which will inspect the UST system within 5 days to determine whether compliance has been achieved.

Temporary & Permanent Closure

Temporary Closure
  • At least 30 days prior to closing a UST, the owner/operator must submit to the local agency for approval a proposal for compliance with closure requirements.  If there is evidence of a release, the owner/operator must initiate and complete an investigation into the suspected release and make all necessary repairs.
  • An owner/operator must comply with the following requirements when closing a tank temporarily.
    • All residual liquid, solids, or sludges must be removed from the tank and properly disposed.
    • If the UST contained a hazardous substance that could produce flammable vapors, it should be inerted to minimize risk of explosion.
    • The UST may be filled with a non-hazardous, non-corrosive liquid which must be tested at the end of the temporary closure period.
    • Except for required venting, all fill and access locations must be sealed using locking caps or concrete plugs.
    • Power service to all of the pumps associated with the UST must be disconnected, unless the power services some other equipment which is not being closed.
Permanent Closure
  • If a UST is temporarily closed for more than twelve months, it must be returned to use or permanently closed.
  • At least 30 days prior to closing the UST, the owner/operator must notify the local agency of the intent to close the UST.  The owner/operator must also prove to the local agency that no unauthorized release has occurred at the facility by having soil and/or water samples taken at the site and analyzed.  If contaminated soils, contaminated groundwater, or free product as liquid or vapor is discovered during the site assessment, the owner/operator must immediately begin corrective action.
  • When a tank has been permanently closed, it must be emptied, cleaned, and removed from the ground.
  • No UST in California may be abandoned in place or closed without the correct procedures being performed.


  • The results of the site assessment required at closure must be maintained for at least 3 years after completion of permanent closure or change-in-service.
  • Owners/operators must keep the following records at the UST facility and make them available to the local agency or the SWRCB within 36 hours.
    • Monitoring and maintenance records must be retained for 3 years.
    • Cathodic protection maintenance records must be retained for 6½ years.
    • Written performance claims for release detection systems and maintenance records for those systems must be retained for 5 years.