There is a very real risk of leaking toxic substances that can cause serious health issues and catastrophic environmental damage anywhere fuel and chemical storage tanks are used. A tank monitoring system servicesare designed to detect leaks and track tank levels in both underground and above ground storage tanks. Monitoring systems also provide ongoing and up to date measurements of the tank level, the volume of liquids, temperature fluctuations, water level and sound alarms when high and/or low fuel levels are detected. Some systems can monitor double-wall tanks and supply lines, pressurized pipes and provide monitoring data remotely.
Leaking storage tanks can result in lost product and revenue and cause serious legal problems. Gas-station owners, storage facilities, building, maintenance, industrial and manufacturing facility managers, schools and hospitals all need to have a reliable tank monitoring system in place if they are using any type of liquid fuel or chemical storage tanks. Having a leak detection system in place that will quickly alert managers and employees to problems is the key to preventing these issues and staying legally compliant. The three main types of tank monitoring systems include:
• ATG, or Automatic Tank Gauge systems. This type of monitoring system is designed to conduct statistical test that meet federal testing regulations. The main benefits of an automatic tank gauge system is ensuring compliance with state government regulations that include automatic monitoring of fluid levels to maintain accurate inventories for tracking use or sales of products.
• TCV, or Temperature Compensated Volume, are designed to monitor product changes in a tank due to seasonal expansion and contraction. Because warmer temperatures cause product expansion and colder temperatures cause contraction, systems must be programmed for different temperature values to take seasonal temperature fluctuations into account.
• UST, or Ultrasonic Tank, monitor systems are typically more accurate than gauges. Whereas gauges are accurate to plus or minus 11 percent volume, an ultrasonic monitor is accurate to plus or minus one percent. UST monitoring systems are highly efficiently and cost-effective, comply with local, state and federal requirements and ensure safe and efficient operation by continuously monitoring for leak detection. UST systems are also referred to as fuel management systems, leak detection systems and automatic tank gauge systems.
Leak detection gauges and visual notification displays immediately notify personnel when a leak, overfill conditions or a loss of pressure in a fuel line occurs. A variety of terms are used to describe tank monitoring systems. These include “automatic tank gauge systems,” “leak detection systems” and “fuel management systems.” Irrelevant of the terminology used, tank monitoring systems employ some or all of the following detection methods:
• Automatic tank gauges use probes, or sensors that are accurate to 1/1000 of an inch. These sensors not only monitor the height of fuel, but the height of the water that typically accumulates in underground storage tanks. Note that safety regulations require water to be at no more than a one-inch level at all times.
• Because liquids expand and contract at different rates, it is crucial that temperature changes be monitored to know the increase or decrease in volume the fluctuation may cause. As an example, a rise in temperature of one degree Fahrenheit in a 10,000-gallon gasoline tank will result in the gasoline increasing seven gallons in volume.
• Sensors placed between the walls of a double-walled storage tank will read fluid leaking from the inner wall of the tank.
• Alarm will sound if the pressure should drop below a preset PSI.
Display consoles can provide various readouts depending on the type of system. For example:
• A green status light indicates the system is functioning properly, a yellow light indicates an issue that needs to be addressed and a red light indicated a breech is in progress. A touchscreen display can show the number of tanks in service, the type and amount of liquid in each tank and record the pressure in each tank during testing.
• Verify how much liquid is in the tank, when it is empty and if a line is not pressurizing properly.
• Check for other alarms that may prevent a test from running.
• Check the pressure in a line.
• Check for visible leaks.
Choosing the best tank monitoring system for a particular application will depend on several factors. This includes the number of tanks that need to be monitored, the types of liquids being stored and the temperature fluctuations in the region of the country where the tanks are located. At a minimum, each tank must have a level probe, a sump sensor and an interstitial space monitor. Some monitoring systems, like the Veeder Root 450PLUS, are capable of monitoring as many as 64 tanks and can accommodate up to 99 sensors. Irrelevant of what type of monitoring system is employed, regularly scheduled preventive maintenance is imperative to ensure the tank monitoring system will continue to work properly and ensure the safe and efficient operation of the storage tanks.