Oil Tanks In And Under The Basements Of Office, Apartment, Commercial and Industrial Buildings Can Be Ticking Time Bombs

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Thousands of buildings throughout the United States have old steel heating oil storage tanks in or below their basements or sub-basements. Many of these oil tanks were installed at the time the buildings were built in the 1940's, 1950's, 1960's and 1970's and they are much larger than doors, stairs and hallways connecting their location to the outside. With age these tanks can deteriorate and leak fuel oil into the ground. New technologies now make it easy and cost efficient to refurbish these tanks in place, saving thousands of dollars in replacement costs and virtually eliminating potential pollution problems.

Many of these older fuel oil tanks are partially or fully buried or sealed and releases of oil can't be detected by odor. Many times it's not until ground contamination is discovered or a minor permeation grows into a major leak, that the problem is detected.

The building manager showed his concern in the tone of his voice when he called. The 10,000 gallon heating oil tank in the basement of the Federal building his company managed for the GSA was emitting a strong odor of fuel oil throughout the building basement and some parts of the upper floors. The concern was that the tank, situated in a walled-off area and installed when the building was built decades ago, may be leaking oil.

This call was one of hundreds of calls received yearly by AmTech Tank Lining and Tank Repair, a company that specializes in providing services to tank owners from coast to coast. Their customer list includes major oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Sunoco, Shell and Hess as well as national companies such as Procter and Gamble, Navistar and General Electric.

Jeff Colner, VP of operations for AmTech, reports, "Many of these older fuel oil tanks are partially or fully buried or sealed and releases of oil can't be detected by odor. Many times it's not until ground contamination is discovered or a minor permeation grows into a major leak, that the problem is detected."

Colner continued, "Most of these oil tanks were installed at the time the buildings were built in the 1940's, 1950's, 1960's and 1970's and they are much larger than doors, stairs and hallways connecting their location to the outside, making it almost impossible to remove and replace them intact. With age these tanks can present serious problems. New technologies now make it easy and cost efficient to refurbish these tanks in place, saving thousands of dollars in replacement costs and virtually eliminating potential pollution problems."

Colner is a veteran with steel tanks and their problems. Amtech Tank Lining and Tank Repair deals with the problems inherent to older gasoline, fuel oil, chemical and water storage tanks. With state-of-the-art equipment and materials such as AmTech Durachem 580 and Armor Shield Tank Linings, he and his associates go right inside steel tanks, abrasively blast, do repairs, and then virtually make a fiberglass or plastic tank on the interior of the older steel tank. They can even convert underground single-wall tanks to double-wall tanks without removing them.

He added, "Corrosion is a funny animal, and the overall structural integrity of most of the steel tanks we examine is almost as good as the day it was installed. The problems come from isolated corrosion cells making minute permeations through the steel shell of the tank. Allowed to grow, these corrosion permeations can go from a minor weeping to a quarter inch hole if not addressed. A lot of oil can escape from a small hole, and it doesn't take a tanker load to cause a pollution problem."

Colner explained, "The refurbishing is sort of like a tank-in-a-tank approach. The fiberglass, plastic or elastomeric lining system we fabricate inside the steel tank adds an additional structural wall and is not subject to corrosion. The abrasive blasting process conditions the interior steel tank wall before we add the fiberglass or plastic. This helps guard against future internal corrosion problems."

When asked about the long-term effect of a leaking tank and the environmental cleanup process, he responded, "We don't do environmental studies or cleanups, so I wouldn't comment about that. It's our job to find minor problems, or situations before they become problems, and remedy them, before you get to the point of needing environmental services." He continued, "What we do isn't rocket science; it's just good, sound engineering process."

The AmTech Tank Lining and Tank Repair Network operates across the USA and Canada, with crews based in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest and the West Coast, and has lined and repaired over 10,000 tanks. Call the AmTech Hotline at (888) 839-0373 for immediate information or visit their website at http:// amtechtanklining.com.

Contact:
Jeff Colner
888 839-0373 x 2101
jeffc @ amtechtanklining.com

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