Underground Tank Installation Guidelines

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These guidelines were developed to define Fire and Life Safety Requirements and expedite the approval process. Final acceptance is subject to completion of the listed requirements. 

These guidelines shall apply to underground storage tanks in accordance with the 2000 Uniform Fire Code, Articles 1, 79, and 80, City of Santa Clara Amendments, NFPA 30, and California Code of Regulations Title 23, Div. 3, Chapter 16. Permit is valid for six months from date of issue. 

Submittals To Obtain A Permit To Install

  • Name, address and phone number of owner or responsible party.
  • Address of tank site and business name.
  • Two (2) copies of drawings/site plans which consider each item in the requirements. The drawings shall show number, location, and capacity of tanks, secondary containments, piping, buildings, property lines, tank depth and covering, venting, emergency shutoff switch location, and other listed required items.
  • Specify liquid to be stored in each tank.
  • Cut sheets from manufacturer of tank and monitoring systems. Tank, piping, monitoring system and other tank system components shall have approval of an independent testing organization.
  • A permit fee of $150.00 per tank
  • A Business Plan for emergency use.
  • A Monitoring and Response Plan that describes the monitoring and the actions to take in the event of a leak.
  • State of California Tank Permit Application Form A for site and a Form B for each tank.
  • Verification the installation contractor has (1) passed the hazardous substance removal certification examination per Section 7058.7 of the Business and Professions Code, and (2) has been adequately trained and certified by the tank and piping manufacturers.

Installation Procedures

  • After you receive your permit, arrange for Deputy Fire Marshal inspections. Call 615-4970 (minimum 24-hour notification required). Inspections are required as follows:
    • Immediately prior to placing tank in excavation for tank tightness, tank markings, and corrosion protection;
    • All primary piping and secondary containment systems for tightness;
    • Fill pipe spill container and overfill prevention system for operability;
    • Monitoring systems for operability.
  • A "Certificate of Compliance for Underground Storage Tank Installation," Form C, must be completed and signed prior to final approval. One certificate must be completed for each tank.


  • Tank shall bear an approval from an independent testing organization and approved by the Fire Chief. The tank shall bear a label showing the following information:
    • Engineering standard used;
    • Nominal diameter in feet;
    • Nominal capacity in gallons;
    • Degree of secondary containment;
    • Useable capacity in gallons;
    • Design pressure in psig;
    • Maximum operating temperature in degrees Fahrenheit;
    • Construction materials;
    • Year manufactured; and
    • Manufacturer.
  • All tanks shall have secondary containment. Single-wall tanks can be placed within concrete vaults or double-wall tanks used.
  • All secondary containers shall be constructed of materials of sufficient thickness, density, and composition to prevent structural weakening of the secondary container as a result of contact with any released hazardous substance and shall be capable of containing any unauthorized release of the hazardous substance stored within the primary container(s).
  • Secondary containment shall be installed such that it can be tested for leaks in the future.
  • If tank is to be installed in a concrete vault, a permit from the Building Department is also required.
  • Tanks or vaults shall not be located within three feet of a property line or building. Tank shall be so located with respect to existing foundations and supports that the loads carried by the latter cannot be transmitted to the tank.
  • Tank shall be installed per manufacturer's instructions.
  • Tanks subject to floatation shall be anchored using methods specified by the manufacturer and UFC 7902., Appendix II-B.
  • Overfill protection and spill containment shall be provided. Containment volume shall be a minimum of five gallons for tanks 2,000 gallons and 10 gallons for larger tanks.
  • Storage area shall be sloped away from buildings and storm drains.
  • Tanks not in a vault shall have minimum cover as follows:

    Traffic areas:

    A. Three feet earth or pea gravel/sand; or
    B. Twelve inches earth and four inches concrete.

    Nontraffic areas:

    A. Two feet earth, pea gravel/sand; or
    B. Twelve inches earth and four inches concrete.
  • Tanks and piping shall be surrounded by at least six inches of clean pea gravel or sand, including tanks in vaults.
  • A minimum distance of one foot, shell to shell, shall be maintained between underground tanks.
  • Fill and pump out connections shall be identified with the product name and be located no closer than five feet to building openings.
  • Tank shall be tested for tightness at the installation site in accordance with the manufacturer's written guidelines or a method approved by the Fire Chief.

Vent Pipe Outlets (FC 7902.1.10.4)

  • Vent pipe shall terminate outside of buildings at a point not less than 12 feet above adjacent ground level.
  • Vent pipes shall not terminate within five feet of openings into a building nor within five feet of a property line that may be built upon.
  • Vent pipes shall not discharge such that flammable vapors will enter building openings, be trapped under eaves or other obstructions, or discharge into hazardous locations.


  • All piping (vent, product, and vapor return) shall drain toward the tank without sags or traps. Vent piping shall not be less than 1-1/4" I.D.
  • All above-ground piping for flammable and combustible liquids shall be steel or suitably protected against fire.
  • Product, vapor return and vent piping shall have secondary containment. Vent piping shall be exempt if the tank is equipped with a device to keep liquid product out of vent piping. Vapor recovery piping is also exempt from the secondary containment requirement if designed not to carry product back to the underground storage tank.
  • All new primary piping and secondary containment systems shall be tested for tightness after the installation in accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines. As a minimum, the primary piping shall be tested for tightness hydrostatically at 150 percent of designed and operating pressure or pneumatically at 110 percent of design pressure. If the calculated test pressure is less than 40 psi, 40 psi shall be used as the test pressure. The pressure shall be maintained for a minimum of 30 minutes and all joints shall be soap tested. A failed test, as evidenced by presence of bubbles, shall require appropriate repairs and a retest.
  • Secondary containment shall be installed such that it can be tested for leaks in the future.
  • Vent piping shall be tested at a minimum of 4 psig for a minimum of 10 minutes. Soap solution shall be used to identify leaks.
  • Listed flexible connectors shall be used on all underground product piping at dispenser and tank connection locations.
  • Where piping passes through a concrete slab, masonry wall or similar material, provide a one-inch clearance space around the pipe for pipe diameters up to 3-1/2 inches, and a two-inch clearance on pipe diameters four inches and greater.

Corrosion Protection

  • All underground tanks and piping shall be protected from corrosive conditions by any of the following methods.
    • Through the use of cathodic protection system in accordance with recognized standards of design.
    • Approved corrosion-resistant materials of construction such as special alloys, nonmetallics, reinforced plastic coatings, or equivalent systems.
  • Tanks and piping in vaults that are backfilled shall also be protected from corrosion.

Monitoring System

  • The interstitial space or secondary containment of the underground tank shall be monitored using a continuous monitoring system. The system shall be connected to approved audible and visual alarms.
  • The secondary containment system for piping shall be monitored using a continuous monitoring system which is connected to an approved audible and visual alarm system.
  • An approved automatic line leak detector shall be installed on underground pressurized piping.

EXCEPTION: Piping equipped with an approved continuous monitoring system which shuts down the pump when the system is in alarm or is disconnected.

Monitoring Plan

A monitoring plan for tanks and piping shall include:

  • The monitoring procedure, methods and equipment used, frequency of observation, and locations where monitoring will be done.
  • Name and title of individual responsible for monitoring and reporting log format.
  • The preventative maintenance and testing schedule for the monitoring equipment.
  • A response plan in the event leakage is discovered. The plan should include notification procedures (to include Fire Department) and methods and equipment for spill clean up.

Motor Vehicle Fuel Dispensing (Ufc Art. 52)

  • Dispensing devices shall be located a minimum distance of 10 feet from a property line, not less than 10 feet from any building which is less than one-hour fire resistive construction, and at least 20 feet from all fixed sources of ignition.
  • The hose nozzle, when the hose is fully extended, shall not reach within five feet of any building opening.
  • A clearly labeled manually operated pump master switch shall be provided in an approved location, within 75 feet of, but not nearer than 15 feet to, any dispenser. Where such master switch is not visible from all dispensers, the location thereof shall be indicated by approved signs.
  • Signs identifying the pump master switch shall be labeled EMERGENCY PUMP SHUTOFF.
  • For pressure dispensing, an approved emergency shutoff valve (impact valve) incorporating a fusible link designed to close automatically in the event of severe impact or fire exposure shall be properly installed, rigidly mounted and connected by a union in the dispensing supply line at the base of each dispensing device. "Properly installed" shall mean that the shear section of the impact valve is mounted flush with the top of the surface upon which the dispenser is mounted.
  • A fire extinguisher with a minimum classification of 2A:20B:C shall be provided and so located that it will be not more than 75 feet from any pump, dispenser or fill-pipe opening.

For assistance or consultation, contact Plan Check Technician at 615-4987, between the hours of 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM, Monday through Friday.

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