Maintenance of the chemical storage tanks is crucial for a safe working environment. Regular cleaning is one of the vital factors to ensure the integrity of the chemicals stored inside the storage tank. However, storage tank cleaning can be a challenging task. It becomes pertinent to learn about the methods used by qualified experts to clean the industrial tanks efficiently.

Timely cleaning will help the industry in preventing:

  1. Internal Moisture Build-up: Over time, moisture can cause the corrosion of the tanks from the inside. It could lead to tank damage and seepage. Moisture can also have a detrimental effect on the contents stored in the tank.
  2. Sludge Formation: If left uncleaned, the solids can settle on the bottom of the tank. The sedimentation can clog the entry pipes as well as the filters. This would affect the operations of the entire industrial plant.
  3. Microbial Contamination: Due to the accumulation of moisture, microbes get a favourable environment to grow. They thrive and replicate enormously causing filter damage and blockages in the tank.

Safety hazards and challenges associated with cleaning storage tanks:

Cleaning the storage tanks is a risky affair. Some of the challenges associated with the same are listed below:

Physical Hazards:

An accurate risk assessment should be regularly carried out by an experienced practitioner. Several issues can be encountered including objects falling, tripping, and slippery surfaces. They could lead to head injuries, fractures, etc.

Fire & Explosion:

During the cleaning process, the entry of air inside the tank becomes obvious. If the tank contains fuel or a flammable chemical liquid, the chances of explosion increase. Besides the two elements, the third element is a source of ignition which can come from nearby sources. These include static electricity, electrical equipment, hot surfaces or other chemical reactions. Neither can the chemical be removed nor can the air supply be cut. Thus, the best way to ensure it is to completely remove the risk of ignition.

Chemical Hazards:

The cleaning workers may encounter toxic chemicals inside the tanks. They can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled or ingested accidentally. This may result in severe side effects depending on the nature of the chemical.

Oxygen Deficiency:

Oxygen levels may drop well below the recommended concentration level of 20%. A breathing apparatus should be worn before entering the tank. Moreover, in a high-risk tank, the oxygen level needs to be monitored throughout the cleaning process.

Microbiological Risks:

When water or sludge is present in the bottom of a tank, it becomes a substrate for the growth of the microbes. While cleaning, allergic reactions and other infections may be contacted by the persons cleaning the tank.

Toxic Emissions:

Depending on the chemical inside, harmful emissions are released in both air and water. It is not only troublesome for employees at the workplace but is also a significant environmental concern. Regulations need to be strictly adhered while cleaning the tanks.

Maintaining Industrial Tanks:

Over time, the storage tanks will have a build-up of sludge, debris, contaminants and water. Regular cleaning becomes extremely important and should be based on an annual maintenance plan. Tank cleaning and maintenance crews should be qualified enough to deal with the inherent dangers posed by the cleaning of the storage tanks.

  • Special equipment should be used to pressure wash the tank from inside. Cameras can be installed to ensure proper monitoring.
  • Fuel can be circulated through the tank and remote video cameras and fibre optics are used to ensure accuracy.
  • Flexible suction tubes can be used to remove water and contaminants across the bottom of a tank ensuring it is correctly emptied.
  • Non Destructive Testing (NDT) is required for storage tanks for insurance purposes. It should be included in an organisation’s tank maintenance program.

PDFL UK provides a range of safe and compliant tank cleaning services. Get in touch now!