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Choosing the Correct Leak Detection for Tanks

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Technology corner
Posted / Last update: 17-06-2013

Publication: PetrolPlaza Technology Corner
Issued: June 2013
Author: Thompson Jamie

In more recent years the oil industry has developed a far more responsible attitude to the design and operation of petrol stations than when I was a young regulator in London during the mid 1960’s. Safety and environmental responsibility are now an essential requirement for those involved in the construction and maintenance of a filling station. One of major contributors to safety and environmental security in this field has been the use of leak detection devices as an important tool for the designer.


Note: Please click on the images in the gallery to enlarge them.


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Introduction

The leak detection standards (EN 13160 1-7) were first developed as a common European standard over 10 years ago. The standards have been welcomed by regulators, manufacturers and users alike, and I notice these have even been acknowledged by many practitioners around the world as an excellent standard to follow.

That said after 10 years the industry are now moving on and the standards are at present being revised and it has become apparent to me that for underground storage tanks the more enlightened user is progressing towards the more trustworthy and dependable Class 1 detector which is either pressure or vacuum dependant and away from the more traditional Class 2 liquid system which had historically been used on underground tanks across Europe for many years – but has some disadvantages.

There are technical, environmental and economic implications in choosing and operating a Class 1 leak detection system and I will examine some of these.

The only leak detectors that are now permitted under tougher environmental legislation in several European countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, parts of the UK (on a risk based approach) is the Class 1 system.

In addition I notice that BP, Shell and other leading operators are specifying Class 1 as they continue to take their safety and environmental responsibilities seriously.

Let us examine the two systems Class 1 and Class 2.

Leak Detection Systems

Class 1

[see image 2]

These systems operate either using air or nitrogen pressure or by pulling a vacuum on the interstitial space. They detect a leak above or below the liquid level of a double wall system – in fact keeping the tank under a “test pressure” all of its working life.

Once a leak is detected fuel can be removed from the tank before any product enters the environment.

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