Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/28/1994 01:00 PM House JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HB 513 - GRANTS/LOANS FOR STORAGE TANK OWNERS                                
  Number 620                                                                   
  JOHN BARNETT, Executive Director for the Board of Storage                    
  Tank Assistance, explained that the Board and the Department                 
  of Environmental Conservation both support the CS for HB
  513.  The Board is primarily an appeal board.  The                           
  legislation you have in front of you was requested on behalf                 
  of the Alaska underground tank owners and operators, which                   
  operate underground storage tank facilities throughout the                   
  state.  These storage facilities are regulated through both                  
  the EPA as well as the state of Alaska.  At the current                      
  time, we have about 142 unfunded applications for                            
  assistance, totaling about $42,000,000.  Out of those 842,                   
  about 151 of them have been determined ineligible for                        
  assistance by the Department of Environmental Conservation.                  
  Under current law, the only thing that can be appealed to                    
  the Board of Storage Tank Assistance is ineligible cost.  If                 
  a certain cost has been determined to be ineligible, such as                 
  the certain cost for the kind of upgrade equipment, or                       
  certain kind of remediation equipment, if some cost has been                 
  determined ineligible, the owner can come to the board, the                  
  board can rule on that dispute, it can mediate the dispute                   
  between the Department and the owner.  We feel that the                      
  legislative intent was to have an appeal board that would                    
  hear all manners of appeals related to the storage tank                      
  assistance fund.  This section 1 within 513 clarifies the                    
  authority of the board so that if an owner or operator's                     
  cost is determined ineligible, as well as whether or not the                 
  owner himself has been determined ineligible, the board can                  
  still hear that appeal.  The decisions by the board are                      
  still subject, of course, to existing statutes regarding the                 
  types of tanks involved and the other eligibility                            
  requirements.  This will only provide a forum for that                       
  appeal to be heard.  The second section within 513 corrects                  
  an oversight in the enabling legislation.  The financial                     
  assistance program has three basic components to it.  It has                 
  a testing program, a cleanup program, and a closure and                      
  upgrade program.  Cleanup is for cleaning up contamination                   
  from leaking tanks, the testing program tests whether or not                 
  the tank is leaking right now.  Closure and upgrade program                  
  very simply closes out the old tanks, and upgrades those                     
  tanks to new tanks that meet EPA standards and hopefully                     
  will not leak and contaminate future drinking water supplies                 
  in the state.  The testing program has already sunsetted by                  
  statute.  The cleanup program, the application sunset, is                    
  this July 1, 1994.  The closure and upgrade program                          
  currently has no sunset in statute.  The sunset listed here                  
  is December 31, 1994, which would correct an oversight in                    
  the original legislation, and begin the first step in                        
  phasing out the storage tank assistance fund, as far as the                  
  application period.  Also at this time next year, we will                    
  have a complete listing of all the applicants and have a                     
  good understanding of the total scope and need of storage                    
  tank owners in the state.  The third section within HB 513                   
  has been placed in here to assist those upgrade and closure                  
  applicants who have yet to be funded.  With the cleanup                      
  program deadline coming up July 1, 1994, and since most                      
  contamination is not discovered until an old tank is taken                   
  out of the ground, many of these applicants that have been                   
  waiting for closure and upgrade funds will not discover                      
  contamination until after the cleanup deadline has passed.                   
  What this does, is allows those owners that are already on                   
  the list, who have applied by the deadline of December 31,                   
  if they have applied for assistance, and if they are using                   
  state funds, and if they find contamination, they will still                 
  be able to participate in the program.  The program has been                 
  very successful.  To date, we have 34 ongoing cleanup                        
  projects.  We have 11 projects we have closed out,                           
  completely using storage tank assistance funds.  We have 246                 
  actual sites that have been cleaned up or a certain amount                   
  of corrective action activities actually, that have been                     
  undertaken, who are waiting for funds.  We also have about                   
  179 sites where closure and upgrade activities have been                     
  completed, thanks to the storage tank assistance fund.  So                   
  it is a fairly good prevention program as well.  So we urge                  
  the committee to pass out HB 513.                                            
  Number 705                                                                   
  REP. PHILLIPS inquired on the last paragraph of the position                 
  paper regarding HB 513 where it says in part "allowing                       
  applicants who have already applied for financial assistance                 
  to remain eligible for clean up, will further reduce the                     
  demands on the spill response fund."  I was wondering how                    
  you could make such a comparison?                                            
  MR. BARNETT responded that what they were concerned with was                 
  that if a person could not undertake the activities                          
  themselves, right now they have the avenue of the storage                    
  tank assistance fund.  If the storage tank assistance fund                   
  is not available to them, and if they cannot afford to pay,                  
  the state steps in with spill response funds of which then                   
  cost recovery must take place.  The further demands were                     
  referring to some facilities that were affected by the spill                 
  response fund prior to the enabling legislation that created                 
  the storage tank assistance fund.  There's certain                           
  facilities on the Kenai Peninsula that response funds were                   
  used, the cost was probably at least twice as high, to                       
  actually undertake the clean up as it cost to it using the                   
  storage tank assistance fund, primarily because we avoid                     
  litigation, we allow the owners to actually supervise the                    
  activities, we use certified workers, private workers within                 
  the state, and we do not use the state-lead contractors, to                  
  actually do this work.                                                       
  Number 735                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN PORTER inquired as to whether currently, without                    
  the ability to appeal to the board on just a denial of                       
  services, someone would have to go to court?                                 
  Number 738                                                                   
  MR. BARNETT responded that the only avenue open to a person                  
  who has been determined ineligible at this time would be to                  
  go through the court system.                                                 
  Number 745                                                                   
  REP. PHILLIPS moved to pass HB 513 from committee with                       
  individual recommendations and a zero fiscal note.                           
  Number 747                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN PORTER, hearing no objection, declared HB 513                       
  passed from committee.                                                       

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