API 635 Tank InspectionIf your business includes ownership of above ground storage tanks, be certain you review the times when an API 653 tank inspection is needed. This will help determine if you need to allocate funds for an API 653 inspection in the coming year.

Situations when an API 653 inspection is needed:

1. When states require it for permit renewal in intervals as recommended by The Fertilizer Institute.

2. When changing products being stored.

3. If monthly visual inspections indicate rapid changes in the tank’s condition.

Most states require liquid fertilizer tanks as well as other API 650 tanks to have an API 653 inspection on a periodic basis.

However, the required inspection intervals vary widely between states. Some don’t have any inspection requirement. Contact the authority in your state that mandates such requirements to ensure you have a clear understanding of when you are required to have an above ground storage tank inspection. As of this writing, no federal requirement for liquid fertilizer tanks to have API 653 inspections exists. Therefore, the main authority is the state government authority.

A new entity is entering the picture: Insurance Companies

While states have the monopoly on the governmental imposition of API 653 inspection requirements, a new entity is entering the picture requiring periodic above ground storage tank inspections: insurance companies. With the growing number of tank failures and environmental contamination, insurance companies are adding API 653 inspection requirements to safeguard their potential liability. If you are signing a new insurance contract or are switching insurance companies, ask whether they require periodic API 653 inspections for the policy to be effective.

TFI recommends establishing a baseline inspection

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) has above ground tank inspection guidelines in its publication “Aboveground Storage Tanks Containing Liquid Fertilizer: Recommended Mechanical Integrity Practices.” TFI recommends establishing a baseline inspection where a tank has been inspected by a certified API 653 tank inspector within the past 10 years. From that baseline, TFI recommends “a visual external inspection by an API authorized inspector at intervals not greater than the lesser of five years or the interval established by the corrosion rate in accordance with API 653.”

For internal inspections, TFI recommends the interval for inspections not to exceed 10 years, unless qualified tank personnel conclude a longer interval is acceptable based on a risk-based inspection (RBI) evaluation. While the exact verbiage permits longer intervals, the safe choice is to have a full API 653 inspection every 5 years.

One situation that warrants an above ground tank inspection that tank owners could overlook is when the product stored in a tank is changed. The specific gravity of the new product may be much higher than the prior product, especially when changing to products in a different industry. That higher specific gravity will significantly change the pressure exerted on the tank. The result could change the safe fill level for the tank with the new product. It is important to conduct an API 653 tank inspection to ensure the safe fill height of the tank before changing the product. Avoid a disastrous surprise in your new venture by scheduling an API 653 tank inspector to evaluate your tank.

Finally, observation of significant changes in the tank’s condition in monthly visual inspections are a good reason to have an API 653 tank inspection performed. Monthly visual external inspections of the tank by the owner or employees help prevent a small issue from growing into a costly repair. Rapid external changes of a tank could also indicate internal issues.

If you are not sure if a full API 653 inspection is required, contact an inspection company with certified API 653 inspectors. An educated recommendation can usually be made from descriptions and external pictures of the tank,.
Review this checklist of reasons to have an API 653 tank inspection to see if a line item for an inspection is needed in your annual budget. Have questions? Feel free to call us at Heartland Tank Companies, and one of our certified API 653 inspectors will be happy to assist you.