Orem is installing a new vault - to protect its fuel, not its jewels.

Responding to new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, Stewart Cowley, management assistant for Orem's Department of Public Works, said the city is modernizing its fuel tank storage systems."New fuel tanks must be in compliance with these regulations," Cowley said. "And placing the tanks in a sealed vault in the ground will reduce monitoring requirements to the bare minimum."

Mark Ellis designed the vault with federal regulations and the environment in mind.

Ellis, who used to work for the state of Utah Fuel Regulation, said he started playing with the vault idea as soon as he saw how stringent the regulations were.

"We created the vault so that the tanks would be environmentally responsible and they would no longer be subject to those federal regulations," Ellis said. The tanks aren't adjacent to the soil, and they aren't corroding.

Fuel tanks that are placed in the ground are more apt to become corroded and leak into the surrounding area.

"If there is a problem, we can go in and check for a leak," he said. The tanks could also be replaced if necessary.

The vault is constructed of special concrete, which is sealed to prevent liquids or gases from leaking into the soil.

Gordon Olsen of Olsen-Beal Associates, who engineered the project, said it took 14 months of research and technology to put the vault together.

"It took a long time, but it has turned out better than we expected," Olsen said.

According to Ellis, the time has been worth it because the average cost to clean up a tank that leaks underground is about $185,000.

"We hope this type of vault will be an example to other organizations that use these tanks," Ellis said.

Cowley said the city of Orem believes it will be helpful in the long run.

"It may be a little more expensive right now," Cowley said, "but later we will just be able to go in, pump out the vault and correct our problems."

Ellis said it will also save the Orem city taxpayers because, with the vault, the city is exempted from the requirement to have insurance on the tanks.

He said there are a few other companies that make vaults, but he feels this vault is very competitive and will stick around.

"We make them to last a long time," he said.