Oil Storage Tanks and the Floods in Colorado
A week of record-breaking rains unleashed a torrent of water in towns east of the Rockies. The floodwaters that traveled through Colorado lifted oil tanks off their foundations causing a dozen spills. According to state officials approximately 42,764-gallons or 1,042 barrels of oil have spilled to date. Photos of aboveground tanks on their sides and oil tanks swept up by rivers of water were viewed on news stations across the globe. Many facilities along the Platte River were hit hardest. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is compiling a comprehensive list of facilities in the flooded areas and their status, including what chemicals they had on site. The tank operators were quick to report the spills, which has helped the conservation commission assess the damage. This unfortunate accident highlights the need for oil and gas equipment in floodplains to be anchored to resist flotation.
Even when a tank is properly moored heavy debris can crack pipes and manifolds allowing oil to escape. Natural disasters create threats you don’t always plan for such as flying rocks and trees. However there are critical steps you can take to protect your fuel storage tanks. A full tank is stronger than an empty tank so tank contents should be 3 to 6 feet above potential flood water levels to prevent flotation. Bollards are an important safety device to protect piping from vehicles and other moving objects. Secondary containment not only keeps leaking liquids in but floodwaters out. Always follow state codes and installation recommendations provided by the manufacturer to safeguard against leaks caused by hurricanes and floods.