Storage Tank Leaks and the Typical Causes

A leaking underground storage tank is a serious problem. The environmental damage that they cause can be considerable, and it can take a lot of time and money to clear it up. There is also a potential risk to public health.

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According to guidance from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, there is a code of good practice on how you should protect environmental groundwater from leaks from underground storage tanks. There are a number of options.

Here are some more typical reasons why underground storage tanks can leak.

1. Leaks in Overfill and Dispenser Protection Devices

Some companies have to call in Tank Decommissioning services because there are leaks in the devices that are installed to protect the overfill and dispenser areas of the tank. These devices usually work well, but there is a tendency for the seals to dry out over time, and they can become cracked. The ethanol content of modern fuel is especially likely to cause them to become brittle and start leaking.  It might be too late to fix this but there are certain things construction teams can use like for example a metal bonding adhesive from companies such as

2. Mistakes When Delivering Fuel

Sometimes Tank Decommissioning experts find evidence of previous fuel delivery errors. This can be due to anything from failing to shut off valves to selecting the incorrect fuel port.

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3. Errors Caused by a Customer

Customers have played their role in creating leaks. Some have driven off when the dispenser hose was still attached to their vehicle, whilst others have actually crashed a vehicle into a dispenser!

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4. Leaks in Fibreglass

Fiberglass is a great improvement on the old steel lines that were installed in underground storage tanks. The modern fiberglass underground tanks have two walls and sophisticated monitoring devices that check for leaks. Leaks can still occur, though, and they are usually due to fittings that are incorrectly constructed. It can also be due to errors in the installation. The fiberglass becomes flexed and cracked and leaks occur.

5. Construction Errors and Criminal Activity

Construction near the underground storage tanks presents some risks. There have been several occasions when construction workers have accidentally drilled through the walls of tanks or through lines. The same can happen during environmental investigations or when routine maintenance is being carried out. Very occasionally, leaks have also been caused intentionally by criminals who wanted to steal fuel or damage property.