It seems that the new industry buzzword lately for UST and AST owner/operators are, inspect and maintain. The EPA encourages this statement as well as a reminder logo to remind the petroleum industry of such practices. This is exactly what our company focus is all about “inspect and maintain.” This is our focus and this is why this system was developed. Water monitoring and removal is critical for all fuel storage systems.
Poor operations and maintenance procedures for water monitoring and removal from storage systems can lead to a number of problems from degradation of fuel quality and subsequent vehicle performance to microbial contamination, phase separation and damage of the entire storage system. In today’s new fuels with lead removed and the recent phase-outs of MTBE, these fuels are more susceptible to moisture accumulation.
These new alcohol enhanced fuels have the potential for separation and biodegradation accelerated by water. For example, lead was a natural poison to the microbes that can grow in a moist environment. In today’s lead and MTBE free fuels, microbial growth can more readily occur.
This is why the industry regulators and organizations are recommending to tank owners to, “Establish an operating and maintenance practice to monitor and remove water when it is detected and to have regularly scheduled tank bottom inspections” Alcohol enhanced fuels have great environmental and economic benefits, but they do require good housekeeping.
The industry needs to be educated on the importance of having a regularly scheduled maintenance program for their UST’s and AST’s to prevent phase separations or microbial contamination. Ultimately, this pro-active maintenance should result in less leaky tank situations for our environment.