While water is critical to maintaining and sustaining life, it’s also insidious and can be a burden for fuel retailers. Similar to its relationship with oil, water does not “play well” with motor fuels. When water infiltrates fuel, the potential financial and brand-reputation impacts can be disastrous for fuel-site owners and operators.
Because of this confrontational relationship, excessive levels of water in gasoline and diesel possess the capability to compromise the fuel’s composition and cause damage to fuel-storage systems and vehicles.
In June 2017, CheapCarInsurance.net, an online automobile insurance quote aggregator, released the findings of a commissioned study called Gas Station Violations The study reviewed the results of gas station inspections that occurred across multiple states in 2016. The study showed how many stations earned violations in a number of categories, including water and sediment intrusion into the fuels they were selling.
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One of the main takeaways from the study was that in 2016, more than 20% of the violations involved the presence of elevated levels of water in the fuel. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 106,015 gasoline stations in the United States at the end of 2016. If one in five was experiencing some form of water intrusion, that would mean that 21,203 of those stations were dispensing motor fuels with elevated levels of water.
There are a number of ways that water can find its way into a station’s underground storage tank (UST). Some of the most common include:
- Fuel delivered with water already present
- Accumulated water in spill bucket leaks into, or is drained into the UST
- Deliver cap not replaced properly
- Hole(s) in vent cap or line
- UST leak that allows entry of groundwater
- Cracked, degraded or ill-fitting seals on the tank-sump lid
- Loose fittings or plugs
- Condensation caused by fuel temperature swings
Some of these causes are easier to eliminate than others, but retailers must be aware that all of them have the capability to allow water to foul their fuel. Therefore, strict due diligence must be performed to ensure that none of these causes are allowed to occur or fester.
Here are five UST solutions that are engineered to protect fueling sites, customers and owners from the dangers of water intrusion.
- No-Drill Dispenser Loop Sumps: Prefabricated sumps eliminate improper entry-fitting installation and ensure proper pipe alignment. Shallow bury “loop” design keeps entry penetrations above the water table. Factory-installed dual-sided rigid entry fittings provide double protection by sealing on the pipe inside and outside the sump, which prevents groundwater intrusion into the sump and keeps all of the fluid that is collected in the sump from entering the access pipe. Rigid composite material eliminates entry fitting degradation resulting in water intrusion.
- Composite Multiports with Watertight Lids and Covers: Corrosion-resistant construction, engineered in conjunction with fiberglass containment sumps and specially designed covers, provides watertight spill containment for UST fill pipes and vapor-recovery risers.
- No-Drill Tank Sumps: Integrated factory-installed conduit ports and an electrical wiring junction box eliminate the need for any drilling that can create tank-sump leak points. Also, these have consistent wall thicknesses and smooth sealing surfaces inside and out for optimized entry-fitting watertight security.
- Composite Manhole Covers: Watertight, lightweight, non-bolted covers with sealing gaskets help guard against water intrusion.
- Sealable Cover Spill Containers: These have an integral “plumber’s plug” sealable design that prevents water from penetrating the spill container at the surface and entering the UST. These also prevent spilled products from entering the soil near the fill and vapor-return riser connections on USTs during normal tank-filling operation. They can even help in the event of a tank-overfill occurrence.
Retailers who implement any or all of these components into their fuel-storage systems will greatly prevent their USTs from being subject to potentially harmful levels of water intrusion.
So, are you watertight?
Visit opwglobal.com/watertight-wonders to learn more about the world’s leading below-ground products and how they can protect you, your customers and your bank account.