(a) The Legislature finds and declares as follows:
(1) Substances hazardous to the public health and safety and to the environment are stored prior to use or disposal in thousands of underground locations in the state.
(2) Underground tanks used for the storage of hazardous substances and wastes are potential sources of contamination of the ground and underlying aquifers, and may pose other dangers to public
health and the environment.
(3) In several known cases, underground storage of hazardous substances, including, but not limited to, industrial solvents, petroleum products, and other materials, has resulted in undetected and uncontrolled releases of hazardous substances into the ground. These releases have contaminated public drinking water supplies and created a potential threat to the public health and to the waters of the state.
(4) The Legislature has previously enacted laws regulating the management of hazardous wastes, including statutes providing the means to clean up releases of hazardous substances into the environment when the public health, domestic livestock, wildlife, and the environment are endangered. Current laws do not specifically govern the construction, maintenance, testing, and use of underground tanks used for the storage of hazardous substances, or the
short-term storage of hazardous wastes prior to disposal, for the purposes of protecting the public health and the environment.
(5) The protection of the public from releases of hazardous substances is an issue of statewide concern.
(b) The Legislature therefore declares that it is in the public interest to establish a continuing program for the purpose of preventing contamination from, and improper storage of, hazardous substances stored underground. It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this chapter, to establish orderly procedures that will ensure that newly constructed underground storage tanks meet appropriate standards and that existing tanks be properly maintained, inspected, tested, and upgraded so that the health, property, and resources of the people of the state will be protected.