A common misconception is that aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) are a means to get around the strict guidelines set for underground storage.  This is not so, as there are just as many safety considerations taken into account for this type of storage that are subject to both state and federal regulations.

The definition as set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for what constitutes an aboveground storage tank is any tank or other container that is above ground, partially buried, bunkered, or in a subterranean vault. Correct management of these storage containers is paramount to the safety of soil and water systems in the surrounding area.

Since most liquids in ASTs can spill, evaporate, or seep through any available opening, entering the ground or being carried away by stormwater runoff, special considerations must be taken to ensure the integrity and safety of the tank. Some causes for loss of product from the tank are failure of piping systems, spills/overfilling the tank, and perforations formed by corrosion.  The construction of containment around the tank is required in the event that any large spillage can be contained to the area immediately surrounding the tank.  State regulations may be more stringent or differ in other ways than federal requirements in regards to safety/containment procedures.

A tank release is dangerous for environmental impact and human health, as well as extremely costly for the owner. Even small spills can require clean up procedures beyond the boundary of your facility, and an EPA article on AST management offers figures of how serious a small amount of spillage can be:

A single pint of oil released into the water can cover one acre of water surface area and can seriously damage an aquatic habitat.  A spill of only one gallon of oil can contaminate a million gallons of water.  It may take years for an ecosystem to recover from the damage caused by an oil spill.

The Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) recently issued a revised (sixth edition) Recommended Practices for Installation of Aboveground Storage Systems for Motor-Vehicle Fueling (PEI/RP200-13). This version replaces the 2008 edition of RP200, first written in 1990 in response to the environmental considerations of aboveground tanks to store motor-vehicle fuel.

Don’t neglect the regulations protecting the environment and your wallet.  Here at ATC we are ready to address any of your questions regarding the regulations for your area to help keep your facilities legal and your mind stress-free. We employ State Certified AST Inspectors and SP001 Certified Inspectors, and our services include Fuel Systems Management, Health and Safety Training and 24/7 Response Management.

Contact us about a consultation today.