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Tank Removal Safety – What Causes Fires and Explosions?

Steps for Tank Removal Safety

Most underground tank removals will involve flammable vapors from products stored in the tank and from accumulated residues left in the tank even after it has been pumped dry.  Be aware of the basic Fire Triangle : fuel, oxygen, ignition source.  All three points of the triangle are necessary to support combustion.

Tank Removal Safety

These three elements need to be recognized, evaluated, and controlled to make a safe workplace. Tank Removal Safety requires continuous attention to these potential hazards to eliminate or reduce the risk of explosion.

Prepare a Safe Work Place – before the tank is approached or excavation begins.

    •  An inspector needs to make sure the contractor prepares a safe work place by eliminating all potential sources of ignition before heavy equipment is used fro handling the tank, or used in the surrounding area of the tank.  Sources of ignition include any heat, flame, or spark-producing action:
    • Ban smoking in the area
    • Shut down all open flame and spark producing equipment
    • Remove electrical and internal combustion equipment unless it is designed to be “explosion Proof”
    • Make sure only non-sparking tools are used to expose tank fittings and prepare the vapor freeing procedures.
    • Control static electricity:
      • Minimize agitation or static producing movement if possible
      • Provide a conductive path for the continuous, “safe” discharge of static electricity by either bonding or grounding equipment and vehicles.
      • Make sure the area is roped off from pedestrian and vehicle traffic since both are unpredictable sources of ignition.  Roping off the area also protects pedestrians from exposure to off-site hazards

2.  Be sure all utility, gas, and water lines on the site are located and marked (and avoided during excavation)

3.  Make sure the contractor demonstrates a knowledge, capability, and understanding of the product stored in the tank, or STOP THE JOB!

4.  Check the weather conditions.  If it’s a still day and the air isn’t moving, vapors may accumulate at ground level.

5.  For your own protection during inspections, wear a hard hat, safety shoes and glasses.  You may also have a combustible gas indicator available.

 

Thank You for reading about Tank Removal Safety.  Next week we will Cover “Preparing the Tank”.

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