Feds propose new reg to remove leaking storage tanks from service

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Courtesy of EcoLog Environmental Resources Group

With spills and leaks from storage tank systems that contain petroleum products continuing to pose significant health and environmental risks, the federal Department of the Environment proposed recently a new regulation to reduce the risk of contaminating soil and groundwater. The proposed Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations would replace the current Federal Registration of Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products on Federal Lands or Aboriginal Lands Regulations (SOR/97-10).

The proposed regulation would apply to storage tank systems owned or operated by federal departments, boards, agencies, and Crown corporations; to storage tank systems operated in connection with port authorities set out in the Schedule to the Canada Marine Act, railways and airports; and to storage tank systems located on federal and Aboriginal lands. The new regulation would also apply to suppliers of petroleum products or allied petroleum products to these storage tank systems.

The new regulation also aims to reduce several toxic substances from entering the environment, among them 1,2-dichloroethane, 3,3’-dichlorobenzidine, benzene, ethylene oxide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are found in petroleum products and allied petroleum products.  Under the proposed regulation, leaking storage tank systems would be required to be temporarily withdrawn from service, repaired, and be leak free before being returned to service. More stringent requirements would apply to singlewalled underground tanks and piping. Leaking single-walled underground tanks and piping must be permanently withdrawn from service and removed within four years after the day on which the proposed regulation takes effect and the day on which the owner or operator becomes aware of the leak.

The following storage tank systems would be considered by Environment Canada to be at high risk for contaminating soil and groundwater, and therefore would have to be permanently withdrawn from service and removed within four years of the new regulation taking effect:

  • storage tank systems with tanks designed to be installed aboveground but were installed below grade or in secondary containment surrounded by fill
  • storage tank systems with tanks designed to be installed underground but were installed above grade or in unfilled secondary containment
  • storage tank systems with partially buried tanks
  • single-walled underground storage tank systems that do not have pre-existing corrosion protection and leak detection
  • single-walled underground piping that does not have corrosion protection and leak detection.  An owner or operator of storage tank systems installed before the proposed regulation takes effect would have to perform prescribed leak-detection testing at a specified frequency on single-walled underground equipment and single-walled aboveground equipment that does not have secondary containment.

Horizontal aboveground tanks without secondary containment would have to be visually inspected once within two years of the coming into effect of the proposed regulation, and once per month thereafter. Vertical aboveground tanks without secondary containment would require a test within two years after the day on which the proposed regulation takes effect, and once every 10 years thereafter.  Sumps, regardless of installation date, would also have to be visually inspected once within two years of the proposed regulation taking effect, and once a year thereafter.  Suppliers of petroleum products would be prohibited from transferring petroleum products into any storage tank, unless the storage tank system identification number is visible. They would be required to record the storage tank system identification number on their invoice and notify the operator of any spills or leaks that occurred during the transfer process.

Main cause of soil contamination
Spills and leaks of petroleum products from storage tank systems are responsible for some 66% of the soil contamination on contaminated sites on federal and Aboriginal lands in Canada.

Tanks store petroleum products as diverse as gasoline, diesel, heating oil, aviation fuels, kerosene, naphtha, lubricating oils, thinners, solvents, and printing inks.  Storage tank systems can be based on a single tank just large enough to provide heating oil to one dwelling, to a multiple large-capacity tank system used for fleet fuelling, product distribution, or fuel supply. The volume stored in the tank system can vary from 230 litres to over 75 million litres.  The proposed regulation was published in Canada Gazette Part I, April 7, 2007, for a 60-day

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