An introduction to fuel tank decommissioning

In its simplest terms, fuel tank removal involves the extraction of any old or abandoned chemical and fuel tanks in a safe manner, in order to avoid the contamination of the local environment, nearby businesses or residences and to eliminate any potential risk to workers or homes nearby.

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The removal process is a highly complex and challenging one which requires a deep understanding of both the chemicals and/or fuels once contained within the tanks and use of specialist equipment and contract workers. The government takes this issue seriously and offers clear guidelines on how to remove underground fuel tanks on its website. The government also further outlines the importance of following its rules for the safe disposal of commercial business waste, including strict completion of waste disposal forms and adherence to health and safety guidelines.

So how does a tank get decommissioned?

Workers are required to follow a strict set of guidelines so that they not only pose no danger to themselves, but they also minimise hazards to others working or moving around the vicinity.

There are differing guidelines for tanks with and without leaks and those which are to be left in situ – see this decommissioning work in action for more information.

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Tank removal overview

Here are some of the main steps involved in the removal of a non-leaking tank.
Firstly, the tank and any pipelines must be drained of all fuel or chemicals before removal work begins. The tank must be completely cleaned of any petrol and deposits which are below the line of the suction pipeline, where it is then filled with water to create a liquid seal with all pipelines disconnected. The caps are sealed off and the tank is then flushed through with water at a high pressure. The tank is then finally emptied and certified as safe for removal or gas free by a competent professional, and only after official certification is it deemed fit for removal.

Professional contractors

This process should only ever be undertaken by professional contractors and those who specialise in the fuel or gas tank removal fields. This is to prevent harm to yourself, people around you and the local environment and to avoid harsh penalties from the government health and safety regulatory bodies.


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