UST Operator Training and Behavior Change

TanksLogoThe 25th National Tanks Conference was held on September 14-16, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  Kyle Keesling, Raymond Rees, and I attended many different educational sessions where (not surprisingly) the focus was on the newly revised federal UST regulations.  We received lots of helpful reminders about state program approval (SPA) and implementation time frames.  We also heard informative presentations on previously-deferred UST systems, product compatibility, and new testing and inspection requirements.Of particular interest to me was Jennifer Tabanico's opening plenary on environmental issues and behavior change.  Ms. Tabanico, President of Action Research, spoke on using social science (e.g., psychology, sociology, anthropology) methodologies to enact behavior change.  UST operator training is essentially about behavior change, and Ms. Tabanico's presentation gave me a lot to think about.  Why, even when presented with regulatory information and legal and environmental consequences, do so many operators ignore UST system warnings or fail to conduct regular inspections and maintenance?  What are the barriers to changing these behaviors?  How can UST operator trainers better address those barriers, and what methods can we use to overcome them?  I will certainly be keeping these ideas in mind as I continue to improve our operator training programs.