Fuels West - an independent supplier of fuel, oil and lubricants to Western Australia

Fuel Tank Storage

When was the Last Time you Checked your on-site Fuel Storage Tanks?

Along with the ever changing environment of Rules, Regulations, Australian Standards, Legislation, Acts and Regulations, and the increased emphasis on Statutory Compliance, it would be remiss of our Company not to keep our customers fully informed of critical aspects of their operations that could adversely impact their day to day activities.

Recent events have highlighted the need to target the serviceability of farm fuel storage tanks, and their suitability when it comes to meeting the requirements of Australian Standard AS1940-1993 and the soon to be released AS1940-2004.

A great number of on-site storage tanks are well past the 25 year old mark, and although they may seem to remain in a good condition, the ravages of time and exposure to the elements have taken their toll. Further, in some instances, the construction standards of older tanks may not necessarily comply with current requirements.

Graphic of Ruptured Tank Photo showing extent of spill caused
Ruptured Tank
Extent of Spill

The recent events referred to above are the dramatic effects of tank failure resulting in loss of fuel and destruction of the tank. These expensive (and in some cases uninsurable) events can be prevented through simple tank maintenance.

When tank failures of this type occur, there is enormous impact on the environment. The clean-up costs can be expensive and the damage caused to creeks, watercourses, and land in general can result in huge monetary fines for negligent parties.

These incidents are always investigated, firstly to determine a root cause, and secondly to implement strategies to prevent their re-occurrence. In the cases that we have experienced there are two distinct aspects that have been found.

Firstly, the venting on the tanks has been partially blocked or does not meet the minimum diameter as described in AS1940-1993, and secondly, the welding where the tank end plates join onto the body of the tank have deteriorated through time and exposure.

Photo of Blocked Vent The one side of a dual down-draft vent shown here is at least 50% blocked. As fuel is being dispensed into the tank, the vapour trying to escape is being restricted to the extent that the tank will pressurize. Excessive pressure caused by the tank being unable to breathe properly can result in the tank rupturing. The vent should, either be removed and cleaned, or, completely replaced. Total cost less than $20 and 15 minutes of your time. Cheap at half the price.

What to look for: inspect the tank vent, if it looks like the one shown above, then it is partially or completely blocked. It is like trying to exhale through your nose when you have a cold.

The second tell-tale sign of impending tank failure is the deterioration of the welding at the point where the end plates are joined to the tank body. Cracked paint work along the weld seams or buckling of the end plates is a sure sign the tank will fail in the near future. An example is shown below:

Photo of Cracked Paintwork
Photo showing cracked paintwork on tank

Therefore, our strong recommendation to you is to treat your fuel storage no differently to your new tractor, or header or four-wheel-drive. If you service it regularly it will last a lot longer and not present you with any nasty surprises.Duty of Care and Due Diligence will prevent these accidents form happening and eliminate the possibility of expensive replacement costs and even more expensive fines.

As part of our customer service focus, we too will be inspecting all of the tanks that we deliver into, and if we find any sub-standard situations it is our commitment to ensure that you are informed and given the opportunity to undertake repairs. But at the same time as we are also obliged to protect people, property, and the environment, we will cease supply if our advice falls on deaf ears or repairs to meet Statutory Compliance are not done.

Fuels West Petroleum prides ourselves on providing a regionally based demand responsive service to our clients. As the only Independent Southern Australian based distributor, we take our responsibilities as seriously as our focus on minimizing the risks to our customers.

Please contact us at your convenience for more information regarding fuel storage on your property. Call or e-mail for more details.


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