Structural Safety

See Best Practices for the “Health and Safety of Personnel Involved in Emergency/Disaster Cleanups and Repairs” section below and endnote 53.

Underground Storage Tanks

Underground storage tanks may be displaced, damaged, or destroyed by floods, earthquakes, mud or landslides, wildfires, etc. Particularly in flooding, the system may release its contents into the ground, air, or water. The tank and its associated pipes: may float free because of the pressure of the water in the soil; may become inundated by flood waters; may be loosened from its supports by erosion of the soil by flood waters; may have extensive electrical system damage; and may lose its product through openings in pipes, vents, gaskets, loose fittings, covers, sump pumps, and damaged areas of the container.

Best Practices for Underground Storage Tanks

  • • In flood-prone areas, anchor the underground storage tank to prevent it from floating when the soil become saturated and increase the depth of the tank in the ground while also increasing the amount of concrete above it.
  • • Equip all fuel lines with automatic shut-off valves.
  • • Extend the vent pipe above known flood levels.
  • • When flood warnings are issued: turn off the electricity to the underground storage tank; fill the tank with product and determine how much is there; secure all openings on the top of the tank; make sure all seals and valves are operational; temporarily cap off the vent pipe; put sandbags or other heavy objects on the concrete platform.
  • • After a flood: make sure that the electrical power is off until the system is inspected and determined to be safe; make sure that all systems are operational; clean and empty any areas where flood waters have been; perform an underground storage tank system tightness test before placing the system into operation.
  • • If a tank floats free: turn off the electricity if it is on; rope off the area and keep people away; notify the appropriate governmental agencies and the fire department; remove all contents of the tank under the supervision of trained personnel; and use professional help to dismantle the system, clean it, repair it, or replace it.
  • • Use daily inventory control to determine if there are leaks in the system. (See endnote 63.)
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