Bacteria in tanks—a growing problem
Maintaining your storage tank is one of the most challenging, yet important, tasks of being a tank owner. Poor hygiene can lead to the introduction of water and bacteria into your tank system, and eventually into your equipment.
Changes in regulations and consequently product composition have further heightened issues that can arise from poor maintenance. Making matters worse, regulatory changes have mandated significantly lower levels of sulfur—a natural biocide—present in fuel. As a result, ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) has a greater risk of bacterial contamination.
If fuel becomes impacted by microbial organisms and the situation is not addressed properly or early enough, the bacteria can be pushed through the entire system, spreading costly consequences from the tank to the end-use equipment. These issues can include clogged fuel lines, filter plugging, pump problems or even engine failure. It is important to be able to identify if your system could be impacted. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Increased fuel filter changes. Although routine maintenance requires filter changes, an increase in filter plugging and more frequent changes may indicate a problem. Often a filter in need of changing will cause the dispenser to slow noticeably.
- Changes in fuel color (usually on the bottom of the tank).
- “Rotten egg” odor from fuel or filter.
- Accumulation of sludge and dirt in tank.
- Change or stoppage in equipment operability.
If you find a problem in your storage tank or equipment, it is best to resolve immediately.
Removal – When contamination is severe, it is recommended that the tank be purged of contaminants. Note that the removal of water should be done by a certified and licensed environmental company so that the product can be disposed of in accordance with current regulations.
Additives – The use of additives can help if contamination in the system is minimal. Guttman Energy offers both a water disbursement additive and a biocide additive that can be used as a shock treatment to the system. The additives can also be used as preventive measures to hinder the potential for future contamination.
Methods for Avoiding Water
- Divert rain runoff and snow away from tank fills.
- Make sure fuel caps fit properly.
- Check for broken seals.
- Check tank vents for signs of leakage.
- Stick tanks using water-finding paste.
Quick Note on ASTs
Aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) can be especially hard to manage with changing seasons. Fast or dramatic changes in temperature can cause condensation and make the tank “sweat.” To avoid this, make sure to keep your product level as close to safe-fill as possible. Also, check the tank often for water using the appropriate water-finding paste. For recommendations on paste, feel free to contact your sales representative at Guttman Energy.