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Spill Buckets Can Put Your UST at Risk

Posted by: Erik Bjornstad

In response to admonitions about checking underground storage tanks for water, you may say you don’t have any water problems - you check water levels regularly. You’re good to go.

spill-bucket-and-ust.jpgThere are other ways for water to get in storage tanks.

Look around at your local gas station and you can often spot the fill ports for the underground fuel tanks.  Look closely the next time you’re there, and you can see spill buckets in the ground, one for each port.

These spill buckets are required to be present for every UST (underground storage tank) that is filled with more than 25 gallons of product (fuel) at any one time.  Spill buckets are required to prevent spills of fuel from entering the soil.  They can hold between five gallons and 25 gallons of liquid and are required to be large enough to (theoretically) hold any spill that may reasonably happen if a hose becomes uncoupled from the fill pipe during fuel transfer.

Those spill buckets will accumulate water when it rains, which means you have 5-25 gallons of water waiting to enter the storage tank when the fill port is accessed.  If the spill bucket isn’t emptied before the tank is opened, all that water rushes into the tank.  Water and debris can also enter the UST if the spill basket has a bad or leaky gasket.

We know you care about keeping water out of the storage tank – otherwise, why would you be commenting that you don’t have a problem because you check for water regularly?  But do you think the fuel drop technician cares if this happens while they’re transferring fuel? He just wants to drop the fuel and get out of there. Why should he care if you get water in your tank?

Not his problem. But it’s definitely yours

So even if you keep close tabs on water levels in your tank, you’re still at risk.  There are good recommendations on how to minimize the chance of this happened – inspecting spill buckets to make sure they’re in good condition, keeping them free of liquid and debris after they fill up, making sure spill bucket lids fit properly (and even making sure they don’t go missing).

Beyond this, you want to make sure you have a partner at the ready to help deal with the unexpected.  You may never need to use them.  You may never even expect to use them.  But smart businesses prepare for the unexpected.

You may be interested in these other posts on Fuel Storage and Fuel Storage Tanks:

Are You Fuel Ready? The Checklist

Learn more about our Fuel Tank Services  

Image Credit: EPA

This post was published on February 23, 2016 and was updated on March 31, 2017.

Topics: Fuel Storage, Fuel and Tank Services