The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Decommissioning Underground Storage Tanks

Graham Marshall - Sunday, December 18, 2011

Unfortunately, there is a high risk of pollution during the decommissioning and removal of underground storage tank (UST) systems which previously contained petrol, diesel, fuel oil, aviation fuel, waste oil, domestic heating oil and other potentially polluting materials such as organic solvents.

A UST system is any tank, associated underground pipework, and ancillary equipment that is completely or partially below ground level.

That definition includes any tank that is partially above ground but covered with earth, and any tank in a vault or basement where its base and sides cannot be inspected.

If it is possible to inspect all the base and walls of the tank, it is considered to be an above ground storage tank.

As per our standard hierarchy of hazard control, elimination of the hazard is always the most favoured option.  For that reason, and for the purposes of pollution prevention, it is best to store potentially polluting substances in above ground accessible tanks.

But since this "elimination" option is not always available, the UK Environment Agency has prepared this useful Pollution Prevention Guide (PPG-27) which address many of the safety issues in decommission and removing USTs.

To access the pollution prevention guide on underground storage tanks, simply click here.

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