Aboveground fuel tanks are storage containers usually installed above the ground on a supporting structure such as a stand or a tripod.
Commonly used by farms, refineries and other industries to store petroleum products such as fuel, diesel, heating oil and lubricants, aboveground fuel tanks are considered a safer alternative to underground fuel tanks as they minimise the risk of undetected corrosion and leakage that can contaminate the environment.
However, aboveground fuel tanks also need to be properly monitored and maintained as they still run the risk of spills caused by leakage from corrosion, failure of piping systems, overfills, equipment failure and personnel error. This leakage can contaminate the environment with the petroleum products accumulating in the soil and carried away to water resources in a storm runoff.
Tank management and maintenance is therefore very important to ensure the safety of water resources.
Key tips for managing aboveground fuel tanks to prevent contamination to water resources:
Consider the location of the fuel tank
Aboveground fuel tanks must be installed away from water sources including wells, streams, ponds, rivers and sewers. Key factors also to be considered include volume of material stored, drainage patterns, distance to surface water and weather conditions.
Never overfill the fuel tank
Tanks should be filled only to their holding capacity to meet compliance requirements and prevent spills. Self bunded tanks are recommended as their double steel walls effectively contain any leakage from the tank, preventing the contents from spilling through and contaminating the soil and water. Self bunded tanks or double walled tanks also provide greater protection against corrosion.
Regularly monitor the fuel tank
Regular monitoring of aboveground fuel tanks enables early detection of leaks. A professional engineer must inspect the fittings and gaskets after installation to make sure they are securely in place. Any welding work done must be inspected to ensure its quality. The tank’s integrity should also be tested on a regular basis by a qualified professional.
Regularly clean the tank and containment area
Fuel tank sites must always be kept clean to prevent accumulation of unwanted dirt and contaminants. Any rain water accumulated in the fuel tanks must be collected and checked for petroleum and chemicals before being disposed. Collecting rain water from the fuel tank will prevent spills or overfill.
Comply with Australian standards and regulations
Safe tank management can be ensured and environmental contamination prevented by strictly following Australian standards and regulations. Aboveground fuel tanks must be designed and manufactured to Australian standards including AS 1940-2004 and AS 1692-2006, and should also comply with environmental regulations of the local council as well as guidelines published by organisations such as the Australian Institute of Petroleum.
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