|Fernando Crosa, President/CEO, US Tank Alliance Inc.|
Failing to comply with EPA mandates can be expensive for petroleum retailers. Aside from costly fines, proprietors who fail to monitor underground storage tank testing and cleaning risk the expense of having pumps shut down for repairs, contaminated fuel dispensed to patrons and the possibility of a costly environmental cleanup in the event of leaks or spills.
The bottom line? Providing a consistent, quality product and operating at full capacity are essential quality-assurance measures that all petroleum retailers should have among their top operational strategies. Continually increasing consumer confidence and loyalty, and gaining market share are valuable byproducts of working proactively—instead of reactively—in keeping your operation in line with EPA rules.
Providing Contaminant-free Fuel
Those considering converting standard fuel tanks to contain ethanol-based fuels should be wary of dispensing contaminated fuel. The alcohol-based ethanol acts as a solvent and dislodges sediment that has accumulated inside the tank. The result can be a dirty mix of fuel that can cause damage to a patron’s engine and wreak havoc on the proprietor’s reputation and dispensing equipment.
Occasionally, companies that are blamed for selling dirty gas have lost a significant amount of revenue by failing to properly clean and maintain their tanks and systems. Taking all of the necessary precautions to prevent an alteration in the quality is much less expensive than regaining consumer trust after a bad experience has been made public.
When Stephen Martin, president of Martin Eagle Oil Company in Denton, Texas, saw that ethanol would be introduced into his market, he knew he needed a reliable service provider to clean and inspect over 200 USTs so that they could be refilled with ethanol-blended E10. Martin selected US Tank Alliance to perform the work.
US Tank Alliance utilized its PetroPure® process, which removes debris and sediment from an empty UST and allows it to be refilled with standard petroleum or the new ethanol mix. The process uses a "trollball" to pressure-wash the entire interior of the tank with a powerful cleaning agent. The process breaks up the accumulation of sludge and sediment and pumps the impurities out of the tank. After a thorough inspection of the tank's interior, the tank can be refilled.
Martin Eagle Oil was able to complete the cleaning and inspection project and begin dispensing the E10 fuel on schedule.
Multiple Sites Create Multiple Challenges
Maintaining multiple locations across a wide geographic location can be daunting task for an oil supplier. The chore of maintaining compliance across multiple cities and states creates an even greater challenge. In 2001, Speedway SuperAmerica sought a service provider to perform and track testing and compliance, conduct tank cleaning and provide ongoing preventive maintenance and inspections on 1,600 USTs throughout nine states—Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
US Tank Alliance utilized its automated compliance tracking system, TANKTRAXX, to monitor each location’s testing schedule and requirements to ensure that the company operated at full capacity across all locations.
The solution works to remove the compliance guesswork from testing requirements by creating a profile based on a proprietor’s equipment and location. Those unique requirements are matched to a central database of local, state and federal regulations. This system tracks the proprietor’s needs and schedules tests according to an efficient timeframe, ensuring that tests are not conducted too late—or too early. The system also tracks any failures and provides the necessary follow-up to make sure the system is repaired and retested within the allowable timeframe.
US Tank conducted inspections that involved checking piping leak detection, spill prevention and overfill prevention systems, which are the most common factors that cause malfunction and can result in environmental hazards. All of Speedway's tank assets were uploaded into TANKTRAXX and a simple, yet reliable compliance plan was created.
Speedway has maintained a consistent compliance record because of the inspection regimen, and has benefited from maintaining its reputation as a provider of high quality fuel. In addition, daily inventory records have been more accurate, allowing for more precise reporting and accounting. Systems and sensors that appear likely to malfunction are detected earlier and quickly restored or replaced to optimize performance. The company is also taking a proactive stance against potential environmental hazards, making sure that the chance for leaks or spills is detected as early as possible.
Fernando Crosa is president and CEO of US Tank Alliance Inc., a multi-regional environmental services company specializing in tank testing, tank cleaning and compliance management services. For more information, visit www.ustankalliance.com, or call toll free (866) UST.COMP.