Having onsite, above ground fuel tanks can be a very convenient feature of your business. It allows you to purchase fuel in bulk for your fleet of vehicles, which often results in plenty of money saved. However, it’s essential that you not only follow all the federal, provincial, and local regulations governing such storage tanks but also that you maintain them in order to prevent safety hazards and to keep them free from water and contamination. You’ll also need to make all necessary repairs or arrange for a professional to do so, when needed.

In general, owning or managing above ground fuel storage tanks means you always need to be on the lookout for things that may not be operating correctly and must maintain the tanks in the best of conditions.

Above Ground Tank Cleaning

Storage tanks need to be cleaned if the product inside is changed or altered in any way. This helps prevent contamination from one product to another.

However, this can be quite a dangerous job. You should have a trained crew on hand to do this or should hire a company that’s skilled in this task. Here’s what needs to happen.

  • Entering the tank itself is the most dangerous part of above ground fuel tank maintenance. As such, any team that does this must have proper training, certification, and insurance. This protects not only those entering the tank but also the owner or client.
  • In addition, a daily on-site meeting should take place to review all safety issues and concerns. Furthermore, a site-specific health & safety plan should also be in place and followed and maintained at the worksite. This ensures the safety of the workers.
  • Blinds and blanks should be in place to ensure positive shut-off, and a decontamination area should be set up.
  • The crew MUST have the proper personal protective equipment for this job as well as rescue gear and a supplied air (SCBA) system. Other necessary gear includes vacuum trucks, pressure washers, and confined space entry equipment. The crew will use the pressure washer for cleaning the floor and wall. Vacuum trucks will remove the water rinse and sludge and then transport all waste to a licensed disposal location for recycling.
  • Throughout all of this, a properly calibrated air monitoring system should be in place for measuring the atmosphere inside the tank to make sure it’s safe for the crew. The tank MUST be vented throughout the cleaning process.

Monitoring for contamination

It’s quite easy for above ground tanks to become contaminated when the lids are open. They’ll suck in all sorts of debris, causing a problem with the fuel that’s stored inside. As such, preventative measures should be taken year-round. Ask your fuel supplier or tank installation company about the best way to keep contamination from occurring.

Checking for water

Owners or managers of above-ground fuel storage systems should be taking periodic samples to determine if there is separated water in the tank. These samples will be sent to a lab for analysis, and if water is indeed present, it will need to be removed with a hose and the tank will need to be cleaned (see above).

Training is essential!

Anyone who works around above ground fuel storage tanks should be trained in the procedures that will keep them safe at all times. It is also necessary for maintenance to happen at regular intervals as this will ensure the safety of anyone who works in the vicinity of the tanks, including those not responsible for its maintenance. Eliminating risk is paramount!

If you prefer not to train and certify your staff to do these maintenance tasks on their own, the professionals at Western Oil Services can handle maintenance for you. We have the most experienced team of service technicians in all of British Columbia and we are training our next generation of techs through a new experience-based trade program.

We will stay in touch with you regarding your service and inspection needs and are readily available in emergencies or when essential repairs must be made in a timely manner. We’ll also work closely with your schedule to ensure that inspections and other routine maintenance is done on a timeline that fits your schedule.

For more information about installation and maintenance of above ground fuel storage tanks, call us at 604-514-4787.