Aboveground Storage Tanks

Aboveground Storage Tanks

Aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) have been around since the inception
of industrial processing, but surprisingly, very little practical
engineering or general information is readily available to the tank
inspector, engineer, or operator. Why this is can only be speculated
on. Perhaps, the concept of a tank is so simple that it fosters a belief
that there is little complexity to them and they do not warrant expenditures
of resources. Perhaps, the tank owner believes that it is
appropriate to relegate all tank issues to the care of the manufacturer.
Perhaps, it is because they are generally reliable pieces of equipment
or are considered infrastructure.

Whatever the case, for those who have had to deal with ASTs,
understanding the complex issues and problems and implementing
good design, inspection, operational or environmental solutions to
AST problems have been all but simple. Well-intentioned individuals
and companies in need of sound engineering information frequently
make major blunders in areas of design, inspection, or safety. This
often results in high costs, shortened equipment life, ineffective inspection
programs, environmental damage, or accidents and injuries

as well as the threats of more national and state legislation.

In recent years there has been an increasing polarization between
industry, environmental groups, regulators, and the public. Each
facility which operates with tanks carries much more risk than just
damaging its equipment. Regardless of cause, injuries, fatalities, and
incidents all create a kind of press that can be used against the entire
industry with no real benefit. So rather than proper application of
industry standards to maintain facility integrity on a site-specific
basis, we are seeing a trend where the design, inspection, and operation
of facilities is being politically controlled or regnlated. This is the
worst possible way of running these facilities because it does not
address the fundamental causes of the problems and it creates inefficiencies

of mammoth proportion. It also directs resources away from where they are more needed for the public good such as higher risk
operations or in other places in the facility. The political approach to
controlling tank facilities penalizes the companies willing to do things
right while not really fIxing the fundamental problems. However, this
is not to say that there should be no responsibility to operate these
facilities carefully, safely, and in accordance with recogoized and generally
accepted good practices. In large part the situation we are in
now is a result of the industrial reticence to speak up on issues, to
promote information such as contained in this book to reduce the incidents
which form the basis of regulations, and to be more proactive in
the regulatory process than simply writing industry-recommended
practices or standards.

The purpose of the book then is to help break the cycle described
above by introducing appropriate information that will make any
tank facilities safer, more reliable, and not in need of more stringent
regulations. SpecifIcally, this book can help any individual, company,
or industry using ASTs to improve their performance in the areas of
safety (both employee and the public), environmentally responsible
operations, and implementation of good practices. Fortunately, this
can be done with relatively small expenditures of time and effort
when armed with knowledge and experience.

This book covers fundamental principles of aboveground storage
tanks as well as more advanced principles such as seismic engineering
needed for work in susceptible areas. It will be of interest to engineers,
inspectors, desigoers, regulators, and owners as well as to any
other person involved in any of the many specialized topics related to
tanks. Each topic is treated from a perspective that the reader knows
nothing and works up to a fairly advanced level so that the reading
may be selective as appropriate and as needed. Where the topic
becomes extremely advanced or where only unproved theories exist,
then this is noted and further references are made available. One of
the best sources of information about tanks, petroleum related issues,
and all kinds of problems associated with the petroleum business is
the American Petroleum Institute (API). This organization has produced
numerous high-quality standards, recommended practices, and
publications from which the reader may have access to the state of

the art in these topics.

Although the word tank identifIes only a single type or piece of equipment
in an industrial facility, tanks have been used in innumerable
ways both to store every conceivable liquid, vapor, or even solid and
in a number of interesting processing applications. For example, they
perform various unit operations in processing such as settling, mixing,
crystallization, phase separation, heat exchange, and as reactors.
Here we address the tank primarily as a liquid storage vessel with
occasional discussion regarding specialized applications. However, the
principles outlined here will, in many ways, apply generally to tanks

in other applications as well as to other equipment.


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