printech,July,2004Stormwater Pollution Prevention Tips: Outdoor Liquid Container Storage

printech, July, 2004
Stormwater Pollution Prevention Tips: Outdoor Liquid Container Storage

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From: Gary Jones (
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2004 16:59:59 EDT
FYI - From ERC's Water and Wastewater Products E-News at

Stormwater pollution prevention tips: Outdoor Liquid Container Storage

Accidental releases of materials from aboveground liquid storage tanks, drums and dumpsters present the potential for contaminating stormwater with many different pollutants, according to the California Stormwater Quality Association.

Tanks may store potential pollutants such as gasoline, aviation gas, diesel fuel, kerosene, oils, greases, lubricants and other distilled, blended and refined products derived from crude petroleum. Materials spilled, leaked or lost from storage tanks may accumulate in soils or on other surfaces and be carried away by rainfall runoff.

The California Stormwater Quality Association offers the following tips on preventing stormwater pollution from outdoor liquid container storage. For more information, visit

Note: These tips may reflect California regulations. Be sure to adhere to applicable regulations in your area.

These source controls apply to containers located outside of a building used to temporarily store liquid materials and include installing safeguards against accidental releases, installing secondary containment, conducting regular inspections and training employees in standard operating procedures and spill cleanup techniques.

Pollution prevention

Educate employees about pollution prevention measures and goals.
Keep an accurate, up-to-date inventory of the materials delivered and stored on-site.
Try to keep chemicals in their original containers, and keep them well labeled.

Suggested protocols
Develop an operations plan that describes procedures for loading and/or unloading.

Protect materials from rainfall, run-on, runoff and wind dispersal:
Cover the storage area with a roof.
Minimize stormwater run-on by enclosing the area or building a berm around it.
Use a "doghouse" structure for storage of liquid containers.
Use covered dumpsters for waste product containers.

Employ safeguards against accidental releases:
Provide overflow protection devices to warn operator or activate automatic shutdown transfer pumps.
Provide protection guards (bollards) around tanks and piping to prevent damage from a vehicle or forklift.
Provide clear tagging or labeling and restrict access to valves to reduce human error.

Berm or surround tank or container with secondary containment system, including dikes, liners, vaults or double-walled tanks.

Be aware and ready to address the fact that some municipalities require secondary containment areas to be connected to the sanitary sewer, prohibiting any hard connections to the storm drain.

Contact the appropriate regulatory agency regarding environmental compliance for facilities with "spill ponds" designed to intercept, treat and/or divert spills.

Have registered and specifically trained professional engineers identify and correct potential problems such as loose fittings, poor welding and improper or poorly fitted gaskets for newly installed tank systems.

Storage areas

Provide storage tank piping located below product level with a shut-off valve at the tank; ideally, this valve should be an automatic shear valve with the shut-off located inside the tank.

Provide barriers such as posts or guardrails, where tanks are exposed, to prevent collision damage with vehicles. Provide secure storage to prevent vandalism-caused contamination.

Place tight-fitting lids on all containers.

Enclose or cover the containers where they are stored.

Raise the containers off the ground by use of pallet or similar method, with provisions for spill control.

Contain the material in such a manner that if the container leaks or spills, the contents will not discharge, flow or be washed into the storm drainage system, surface waters or groundwater.

Place drip pans or absorbent materials beneath all mounted container taps, and at all potential drip and spill locations during filling and unloading of containers.

Any collected liquids or soiled absorbent materials must be reused/recycled or properly disposed.

Ensure that any underground or aboveground storage tanks are designed and managed in accordance with applicable regulations, identified as a potential pollution source and have secondary containment such as a berm or dike with an impervious surface.


Provide regular inspections:
Inspect storage areas regularly for leaks or spills.
Conduct routine inspections and check for external corrosion of material containers.
Also check for structural failure, spills and overfills due to operator error or failure of piping system.
Check for leaks or spills during pumping of liquids or gases from truck or rail car to a storage facility or vice versa.
Visually inspect new tank or container installations for loose fittings, poor welding and improper or poorly fitted gaskets.
Inspect tank foundations, connections, coatings, tank walls and piping system.
Look for corrosion, leaks, cracks, scratches and other physical damage that may weaken the tank or container system.
Replace containers that are leaking, corroded or otherwise deteriorating with ones in good condition.
If the liquid chemicals are corrosive, containers made of compatible materials must be used instead of metal drums.
New or secondary containers must be labeled with the product name and hazards.


Train employees (e.g., forklift operators) and contractors in proper spill containment and cleanup.
Employees should have the tools and knowledge to immediately begin cleaning up a spill if one should occur.
Train employees in proper storage measures. Use a training log or similar method to document training.

Spill response and prevention
Keep your spill prevention plan up-to-date.
Have an emergency plan, equipment and trained personnel ready at all times to deal immediately with major spills.
Collect all spilled liquids and properly dispose of them.
Have employees trained in emergency spill cleanup procedures present when dangerous waste, liquid chemicals or other wastes are delivered.
Prevent operator errors by using engineering safeguards and thus reducing accidental releases of pollutants.
Store and maintain appropriate spill cleanup materials in a location near the tank storage area and known to all.

Other considerations
Storage sheds often must meet building and fire code requirements.
The local fire district must be consulted for limitations on clearance of roof covers over containers used to store flammable materials.
All specific standards set by federal and state laws concerning the storage of oil and hazardous materials must be met
. Storage of reactive, ignitable or flammable liquids should comply with the Uniform Fire Code and the National Electric Code.

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