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    Don't Overlook the Hidden Costs of Compliance

    Testing and maintaining a fuel station can require much more money than you think.

    While every station owner and operator knows all too well the costs to operate his or her business, he or she may not fully understand the costs of maintaining a compliant station. There are many "hidden" costs associated with testing and maintaining a station that could cost big dollars.

    Whether you own two stations or 2,000, your investment in the business is important. Your station must meet testing standards mandated by the state, county and municipality -- a tall order that can be better managed via a seven-question punch list. Your testing company should be able to answer these key questions:

    Will the testing company notify you prior to arriving at your station?
    Look for a testing firm that provides at least two weeks notification prior to arrival. You'll need this time to make sure employees are aware, and appropriate staff will be on-hand to oversee and approve the day's activities. In many cases, state and local witnesses are required onsite at the time of testing. Look to work with a firm that can help make these arrangements for you.

    Is the tester certified to test with the equipment it is using; and in the specific jurisdiction it is testing in?
    In many states, testing companies, their equipment and the technicians using the equipment must be certified. Any results submitted to you should include the technician's certification and/or license number. If it doesn't, ask why. Remember, your station's results are only as legitimate as the people and equipment doing the testing.

    Can the testing company maintain your results and records?
    Let's face it, documents are often misplaced and lost. Search for a testing firm that can store and back-up your results electronically. At the minimum, hard copies should be kept on file by the tester.

    Can the firm maintain your testing calendar and remind you when testing is due?
    Unless you have the staff to consistently monitor regulation changes regarding testing requirements, you may be better served by asking your testing company to maintain the calendar and records.

    Is the company adequately insured in case of accidental spill, human error or other onsite accident?
    The testing company should carry the proper business liability insurance. Prior to testing, ask for a copy of insurance certificates and if it has an acceptable level of insurance to perform work on your property.

    Can the company make the minor repairs often associated with site failures and station downtime?
    Look for a firm that carries hardware including hoses, nozzles, drop-tubes and other tank-top fittings on its testing vehicles. Making these minor repairs on the first visit will often give you a passing result and eliminate unwanted station downtime.

    How will I know a fair testing price when I hear one?
    Like any purchase, more often than not you'll get what you pay for. Be leery of service providers with very low unit pricing for services. Remember that saving a small amount on what may appear to be an insignificant item could expose you to untold amounts of environmental and financial risk. Take for example, the added costs for bringing in other contractors if minor repairs are needed, parts pricing and additional labor charges. Purchasing any service involves doing your homework and protecting yourself.

    Bob Dee is executive vice president of Crompco, a tank, line and vapor recovery testing company doing business for nearly 30 years. For more information on compliance, contact Crompco at: (800) 646-3161 or visit www.crompco.com.

    Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of
    Convenience Store News.

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