The Fluid Fertilizer Foundation held its 2014 Fluid Technology Workshop in Sacramento on December 9th and 10th.  Focusing on liquid fertilizer, the various speakers addressed topics including water testing, crop management with marginal water quality, plant operation, formulation and compatibility issues, UAN composition variability, and soil testing methods.

Chris Brooks from Heartland Tank Services, Inc. was one of the speakers at the 2014 Fluid Technology Workshop.  His presentation addressed above ground storage tank maintenance issues and the importance of performing regular storage tank inspections, including weekly or monthly storage tank visual inspections and an API 653 tank inspection every five years.

Purpose of Regular Tank Maintenance

Chris Brooks explained during his presentation that tank maintenance matters.  Maintaining a significant capital asset is at the heart of performing above ground storage tank maintenance.  An out of commission liquid fertilizer tank can quickly affect a retail fertilizer operation’s bottom line.  Regular inspections prevent such downtime by establishing a baseline of the tank condition and corrosion rates and identifying needed repairs before they become significant.  Regular inspections and performance of maintenance repairs on an above ground storage tank prevent leaks into your secondary containment liner, tank, or dike and minimize the chance of a catastrophic tank failure.

Common Sense Steps to Tank Maintenance

So what constitutes proper tank maintenance?  Chris Brooks took time in his presentation to explain the common sense approach to properly maintaining an above ground storage tank.  This method involves weekly or monthly tank walk-arounds performed by the tank owner and API 653 tank inspections every five years performed by a certified API 653 inspector.

During the weekly or monthly walk-around, look for stains on the steel (possibly indicating a leak), check valve function and nozzle welds, look at tank piping for any weld issues or stains, and check the tank foundation for wash-out or deterioration.  If the tank has an internal PVC liner, the leak monitor should be checked weekly.  Keeping good records of liquid fertilizer placed into the tank and taken out helps identify above ground storage tank issues.  An example is to compare the input fertilizer amount with the amount taken out of the tank.  If there is a significant difference between those two totals (the input amount being higher), the tank could have a leak.

At least every two years, an above ground storage tank owner should open up each tank and visually inspect the inside.  This requires a cleaning of the tank to be able to look at the welds and the shell plates for deterioration and corrosion.  Performing this process also helps you check for possible product salting issues from the past season.

Finally, every five years an API 653 tank inspection should be completed by a certified inspector.  An API 653 inspection uses several types of tests to inspect the structural integrity of a tank.  Based on the test results, the safe maximum fill height is determined.

By taking these basic tank maintenance steps and keeping accurate records, you can extend the life of your tank.  If you have any tank maintenance questions, please contact us at (800) 774-3230 or send a question via our website.