How Far Should A Fuel Tank Be From A Building?
Above Ground Fuel Tank Safety Requirements
Above ground fuel tanks can be a convenience for businesses requiring frequent fueling of company vehicles, construction vehicles, lawn mowing equipment and power tools. Above ground fuel tanks in the form of fires, explosion, pollution, and theft can also present significant loss exposures. If your company or corporation has a fuel tank above ground or is considering building one, here are some specifications that you will have to remember:
- Double-walled tanks are preferred to single-wall tanks. The main or outer tank defends the interior tank from heat, rain, and punctures. If the inner tank spills, the fuel will be inside the outer tank. If there is a leak, the leak detectors mounted between the inner and outer tanks may start floating, triggering a visual or audible warning.
- Single-wall tanks are more susceptible to corrosion and leakage than double-walled tanks, although acceptable in most areas. Single-wall tanks must be placed in a diked area containing 110 percent of the maximum tank capacity in compliance with NFPA30. Typically a diked area consists of a concrete containment that retains fuel to a depth greater than one inch. To detect and fix potential problems, such as cracks, punctures, leaks and rain water, all containment systems should be checked periodically (at least monthly). Standing rainwater increases the amount of released fuel that the container will store, and procedures must be enforced for routine removal.
- As a rule, West Bend does not accept fuel tanks stored above ground on metal or wood frames.
- Additional requirement for all fuel tanks include:
Visible labels indicating the contents and associated hazards.
- Labels should include hazard warnings, material stored within the tank, storage capacity, and tank ID number.
- Flammable = “No Smoking” signs posted in both English and Spanish.
Monthly inspections of storage tanks for leaks, corrosion, and other damage.
- Documentation of inspections should be kept for three years, based on federal law.
- Deficiencies noted during monthly inspections must be corrected as soon as possible.
- OSHA 1910.106 (b)(2)(ii)(a) requires a minimum separation of three feet for flammable storage tanks.
- Tanks should not be closer than 25 feet from any building, following West Bend Mutual Insurance Company’s best practice recommendations.
- Prevention of fuel spills and leaks is the most important management tactic in minimizing pollution liability.
- The tank must have barriers installed to protect it. Barriers can include piping, framing wood, concrete pillars and/or stops on concrete wheels. Curbing may be used to regulate the placement of vehicles near tanks. Pipe bollards are often mounted around fuel tanks.
Some physical requirements for each compliant tank include:
- Secondary containment
- Overfill protection
- Leak detection
- Standard and emergency vent
- Liquid level gauge (clock type is preferred)
- Adequate lighting (for nighttime detection of leaks)
- Spill kit