Before 2007, corrosion in storage tanks was a relatively rare phenomenon. Not like today, where a 2016 nationwide study by the EPA indicates that 80% or more of storage tanks already have corrosion damage, while only a fraction of their owners even know they may have a problem.
Even more curious is the fact that, over the past few years, many of the reports of storage tank corrosion involves “vapor space corrosion” – corrosive damage to metal tank parts above the fuel line, not below it.
How does vapor space corrosion happen?
It’s speculated that it’s due to certain light-weight acids that develop in the fuel over time. These “low-molecular-weight” acids could be ones like acetic acid or formic acid or even glyceric acid. Their key feature is that they are light-weight, and this means it’s easy for them to evaporate from the fuel and turn into vapor.
So a lot of these storage tanks have acid vapor condensing on their metal parts, eating them away over time.
The EPA is, obviously, very concerned about this. But why should they care? Because their mandate involves the health of the environment.
What does vapor space corrosion have to do with the environment?
Vapor space corrosion attacks the metal parts of the storage tank, which involves the release detection and prevention equipment that all fuel storage tanks must have. Over time, these essential pieces of equipment become damaged and may cease to function. This can lead to undetected and catastrophic leaks of fuel from the tank into the environment. And now we see why the EPA is concerned with this.
But fear not. While the EPA study did imply some seriously bad news to be on the horizon across the nation, the EPA did offer some hope through 6 or 7 recommendations that they believe would go a long way towards heading off this problem for tank owners and operators.
That’s just one of the topics we’ll be discussing on February 8th at 11am EST during our free webinar on this landmark EPA study and what it means for everyone who owns and operates storage tanks.
Does this sound like something you might find interesting? Why not join us? Just click on our registration link and you’ll be registered just a few short clicks later. Hope to see you there!
If you are concerned about Fuel Tank Corrosion, you'll want to check out these posts:
- 8 Signs of Diesel Fuel Contamination by Microbes, Fungus and Bacteria
- Storing fuel without periodic testing: Playing with fire
- Guidelines For Long Term Fuel Storage of Diesel and Storage Tanks
Image Credit: City of Tuscon, Arizona
This post was published on February 1, 2017 and was updated on October 21, 2020.