Although storage tanks and containers are made to last longer, they are vulnerable to corrosion. Most aboveground storage tanks are made of stainless steel or metal, which contain highly corrosive materials. Over time, the caustic materials used in the tank can degrade the tank’s quality and leak to its breakdown. API tank inspection services play a crucial role in detecting any potential tank failures that can cause harm to the facility, personnel, and biodiversity. Regular tank inspections also help the facility owner or operator prevent full-blown disasters like fire, ruptures, explosions, and leakage.
The first step to any tank inspection is to know what to look for.
Tank inspection standards
Currently, there are many codes and standards that work as a guideline for facility owners and tank inspections when conducting the assessment. The standards also allow facility owners to identify what measures they should take while inspecting tanks. The API (American Petroleum Institute) has written done codes that help inspectors to identify potential risks. The API 653 standard is one such standard that dictates the minimum requirements for the maintenance of in-service tanks. The API 653 standard also addresses issues like relocation, repair, reconstruction, alteration, and inspection.
Tank inspections can only be conducted by inspectors who are trained, certified, and licensed. Professionals with extensive experience working with storage tanks are required to pass the API examination to qualify as tank inspectors. The tank inspector assesses various storage tanks’ components like tank location, spill control, vaults, etc. Besides this, tank inspections also include tank integrity testing wherein the tank structure and the shells, roofs, tank bottom are also evaluated. Corrosion analysis and settlement assessment are also integral aspects of API tank inspection. Such Tank assessments allow the experts and facility operators to identify possible leaks into the groundwater, monitor corrosion rates, or determine areas that require repair. Regular tank testing also prevents the risk of tank failures that may lead to oil spills, rupture, explosion, or contamination.
According to the guidelines set by the American Petroleum Institute, tank inspections should be conducted at a specific interval. Internal inspections should be conducted once every five years. Such examination can be performed by anyone who is knowledgeable enough to inspect the tanks and identify potential issues.
External tank inspections should be performed at every five-year interval by certified API 653 inspectors.
The facility owner and operators are required to get their storage tanks inspected by licensed API 653 training course every ten years. Apart from regular tank inspections, the facility owner should keep a log of past inspections and maintenance. The plant operator is also tasked with keeping a record of all the follow-up actions taken to address the inspection problems.
Internal and external tank inspections should be focused on examining high-risk areas like roofs, shells, welds, and piping since they are more likely to corrode. Inspectors are also required to look for signs of tank failures like bottom and roof corrosion, leakage, or rupture that can pose a further threat to the tank’s integrity.