An Introduction to Tank Decommissioning

Decommissioning a tank is a multi-stage process, and current government requirements mean that tank owners need to be aware of the stages to ensure that they’ve complied with the regulations.

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The government emphasises that the process covers not just tank removal but replacing a tank or even renewing pipework. The steps you have to follow are the same, whether the tank decommissioning is complex or is a relatively simple task: only the scale changes.

1. The Survey

Most people and businesses will only rarely have to decommission a tank so are unlikely to know all of the necessary procedures. This is where it makes sense to engage a professional contractor who does this kind of work all the time.

A professional decommissioning contractor such as will carry out a survey of the tank. From this, they’ll be able to assess the risks, scope out the requirements of the job, produce a plan for the whole process through to disposal and cost these activities so that you have an estimate. They’ll also complete any documentation needed at each stage of the process.

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2. Risk Assessment and Planning

The risks will vary according to the location of the tank, its condition and the material it has been storing. The contactor will ensure that there is no risk of fire or explosion, such as with tanks that have contained petrol. If the job involves emptying the tank, they’ll ensure it’s done safely and the fuel disposed of in accordance with local and national regulations. At the end of this process, you’ll have a clear plan for the job.

3. Decommissioning

The contractor will ensure that any identified environmental risks are controlled. That’s to prevent you ending up with a bill for a clean-up. The work will be carried out by qualified and properly equipped operators with full health and safety compliance.

4. Disposal

Once the tank has been cleaned, it will either be removed whole or cut into pieces for transport to an authorised disposal site. Occasionally, the emptied tank is left in situ, but usually it is removed.

5. Documentation

Each of these steps must be properly documented, with authorisation and permits where necessary. But an experienced contractor will be able to deal efficiently with the required documentation, relieving the tank owner of a major headache.

Author: Kei Taylor

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