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Robotic Inspections For Storage Tanks

Read Time: 2 mins

Aboveground Storage Tanks (AST) are vital assets for many industries including, power, paper and pulp, oil and gas, chemical, and even beverage production.

Routine inspection of external and internal tank components is beneficial for understanding its condition and is required by federal and local laws and regulations.

Robot-enabled ultrasonic testing (UT) offers a unique solution to AST inspections because they save plant operators valuable resources while providing more asset coverage and actionable data.

In the United States, regulatory bodies established standards for the construction, inspection, maintenance, and relocation of AST to prevent leaks and spills that can be detrimental to the environment and the safety of plant employees and residents.

Understanding the existing regulations will help plant operators determine the best course of action for inspecting and repairing these valuable assets.

At the federal level, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates certain AST that meet the requirements of the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule, a component of the department’s Oil Spill Prevention program.

Initially established in 1973 under the Clean Water Act, the SPCC and Facility Response Plan (FRP) rules help plants with AST storing any type of oil–from petroleum to peanut–prepare for and prevent potential oil spills.

As defined in 40 CFR part 112, tanks and facilities that meet the criteria must adhere to SPCC, including the following:

  • Aboveground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons in containers greater than 55 gallons, or a buried storage capacity of greater than 42,000 gallons; and
  • Could reasonably discharge harmful amount of oil into US waters or adjacent waterways, or effecting natural resources managed by the United States; and
  • Is a non-transportation-related industry.

Apart from SPCC, state and local regulations and building and fire codes may also govern the construction, inspection, and maintenance of AST.

For many facility operators, it can be difficult to unpack the regulations to develop and implement an effective tank management program. Luckily, there are a couple of industry standards that are leading the way.

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