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What does a suspected release mean? Lessons from a recent UST explosion - UST Training

November 13, 2017

Recently in Chicago, a suspected leaky UST system caused fugitive fuel vapors to travel over a mile through a city sewer line and catch fire, causing injury and damage. See the news clip here.

Our friends at Canary Compliance wrote a thoughtful blog post about the importance of alarm response and how remote alarm monitoring can help reduce missing critical alarms.

Basically there are three ways not to properly respond to a UST suspected release alarm:

  • Missed alarm,
  • Saw alarm but didn’t understand it.
  • Ignored alarm.

According to state and federal UST regulations, any alarm that indicates a release may have occurred is a suspected release and must be investigated. Pretty straightforward. That rule has been on the books since the late 1980s. However, Canary¬† reports “According to a recent study of almost 1,000 sites, there are, on average, two or three high priority alarms per month.” That should give pause to any operator of a UST system.

We’d probably add that properly trained Class A/B and C UST operators should know through their training not to ignore alarms. So a combination of properly trained staff and remote monitoring should greatly reduce the likelihood of what happened in Chicago.


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