Aboveground Storage Tanks or ASTs are used across industries. The ubiquitous presence of storage tanks can be seen in transportation, distribution, and refining, manufacturing, fuel & gas industries. Most enterprises use the above storage tanks to store oil and fuel. Facilities using ASTs for fuel & gas must be managed according to the state and federal regulations if they fulfill specific criteria. According to the Federal Oil Pollution Prevention regulation, the facility owner or operation should prepare and implement an SPCC plan. The tanks should undergo thorough STI tank inspections, which certified tank inspectors should conduct.
So, what types of facilities must comply with the SPCC Rule?
• Facilities with an aboveground oil storage capacity of 1,320 gallons and more or an underground oil storage capacity of 42,000 gallons are required to have an SPCC plan.
• Facilities that may be reasonably required to discharge oil to the water bodies or shorelines in large quantities that may cause harm to the biodiversity of the area.
• Non-transportation-related storage tanks.
Suppose you own or operate a facility with a large capacity above ground or underground tanks. In that case, you are required to conduct tank integrity tests and inspections regularly or as per your SPCC plan. Tank integrity testing is also required whenever a tank is repaired or added to the facility. These tests and assessments should be in accordance with the industry standards.
Why are Aboveground Storage Tank Inspections needed?
ASTs inspection is required by the federal government. Failing to comply with the industry inspection standard can attract EPA fines that are costly.
However, besides preventing disciplinary actions against a facility, regular inspection of ASTs offers many benefits.
Often, facilities have to comply with state and local tank inspection regulations to use and maintain aboveground and underground storage tanks. Some of these authorities are;
• The state, county, or municipal health and EPA have rules for the tank inspection requirements.
• Municipal Fire Departments that follow NFPA 30 and 30A code also govern the tank inspection requirements.
• Building codes like IBC and IFC also require facility owners to conduct tank integrity testing.
Apart from keeping a facility in compliance with various state and federal authorities, regular inspection of aboveground storage tanks ensures that the tanks are functioning optimally.
Even a minor dent or corrosion can lead to cataclysmic results like an oil spill, explosion, rupture, and contamination. Containing the leakage and cleaning the environment are time-consuming and cost-intensive processes. Thus, it’s best to take preventive measures to ensure there is no leakage or contamination in the tank. Regular AST inspections also help a facility comply with the STI code.
The Steel Tank Institute (STI) and American Petroleum Institute (API) have developed several guidelines for the facility owners and operators who use ASTs. Besides this, there are several ready resources like the API standard 653, STI SP001 standard that address various aspects of inspecting and maintaining shop-built tanks, and field erected tanks, etc.