Cleaning up your UST system after Hurricane Sandy

October 30, 2012

The flooding that resulted from October’s Hurricane Sandy on the Eastern Seaboard will have flooded thousands of USTs, whose owner hopefully plugged all the risers before retreating to high ground this week.

Upon returning UST owners will need to know what to do to bring the UST system back online. The Washington Department of Ecology has provided a useful guide on how to do this. Feel free to download and review.

You may recall from your Class A/B UST operator training this year that many gasoline tanks in the US can contain up to 10% ethanol, labeled as E10. Ethanol loves water and so E10 tanks from North Carolina to Maine are likely under siege with all the surface runoff from Hurricane Sandy trying to get in and mingle with the ethanol. So make sure you hire a service provider and perform the following:


Technical Protocol for Service Providers

These protocols should be followed to place tanks back into service:

  • Stick tanks using water finding paste or read the automatic tank gauge system, if operable, to determine whether water has entered the UST.
  • Flooded or water-impacted tanks and all lines may need to be drained of water and mud, or pumped dry and cleaned as conditions warrant. Liquids removed must be properly handled and disposed.
  • The interstitial spaces of tanks and lines of double walled systems, if flood impacted, will need to be drained and flushed where possible. Blockage of interstitial spaces will render leak detection useless. Depending on the level of residual contamination at the facility, certain leak detection methods may no longer be viable. Tanks with brine or vacuum interstitial sensors may be returned to service if brine or vacuum levels are normal. Be prepared to repair damaged leak detection equipment after emergency conditions cease.
  • All facility sumps, pans, and spill buckets need to be pumped dry and cleaned. Replace sump lid gaskets if applicable. If sump lids are missing replace them. Replace sumps and spill buckets that fail to prevent water intrusion after initial cleaning and drying.
  • Check tank bottoms for water and debris. Remove and dispose as appropriate (see item #2 above).
  • Check the deflection of fiberglass tanks. If deflection is greater than the manufacturer’s specification—the general guideline is 2%—call the manufacturer for instruction.
  • If tanks have shifted and problems are found, repair or replace them according to manufacturer’s instructions and appropriate industry standards and regulations. These systems should be shut down and should not receive fuel until they are deemed safe for reuse (tightness tested).
  • Check vents for movement, cracking, blockage and proper operation. Check dispenser filters and submersible check-valve screens for plugging with dirt or mud. Flush the dispensers and the UST system if necessary. Collect fluids for proper disposal. Check critical safety devices (e.g., emergency power shut off controls, line leak detectors, shear valves, stop switches, isolation relays on dispensers, etc.). Shear valves may be salvaged if they can be cleaned and lubricated with corrosion preventative. Some will still have to be replaced. Sump sensors may need to be replaced after emergency conditions cease.
  • In-tank pumps, Automatic Tank Gauge (ATG) probes, overfill devices, automatic line leak detectors, fill and vapor dust caps, etc. should be assessed. Assess their condition after cleaning and replace as necessary.
  • ATG consoles and any associated electronics that are not submerged, should have a programming and operability check performed by a certified technician after emergency conditions cease.
  • After emergency conditions cease, submerged Corrosion Protection (CP) rectifiers and associated aboveground equipment protecting tanks or lines may have to be replaced. If they are not submersed, have a National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) certified professional perform an operability check of the equipment.
  • Inspect CP lines in saw cuts for damage and replace as necessary. If CP systems are out of service for an extended period of time, perform integrity assessment of affected component before placing CP system back into service. An NACE certified professional will be helpful assessing the CP system.
  • Check accessible fittings, valves and miscellaneous piping for damage and corrosion. Clean and replace as necessary.
  • Document all inspection, assessment and repair activities at each UST system site. Provide this information to Ecology within three months of restarting operations at that UST facility.
  • Submerged dispensers will have to be replaced or repaired as necessary. This includes the hanging hardware. Any suction system dispensers will probably have flood impacted motors and pumps and may need complete replacement.



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