Effects of Flood and Prolonged Submersion on Misplaced Underground Fuel Tanks

January 11, 2017

Engineering expertise swings into action when underground fuel tanks are incorporated into known flood areas. There are drainage conduits to mitigate the effects of the muddy water. The location of each buried vessel receives planning, including a feasibility study that accounts for annual rainfall data. As for misplaced underground fuel tanks, well, the effects of flooding and prolonged submersion require some study, for monsoon-type floods can overwhelm the best drainage solutions.

Corrosion Threats

A storm front moves in, and the ground is saturated with water. The storm transforms the ground into a swamp-like mire. Subsurface vessels are impacted by these adverse weather conditions. The water causes the metal to corrode and age. The steel hull relies on the quality of the alloy when rejecting this oxidizing influence, but that water damage has support. It's backed by soil type, by the acidity or alkalinity content in the muddy water. Now the surrounding ground water is slightly caustic. It also has teeth, the scouring power of that same soil, which will abrade the tank.

Flooding Effects

A number of redundant systems exist to handle these effects. Initially, they're blunted by the presence of a sacrificial cathodic protector. Next, the local architecture and location of the underground vessel help to channel liquids into special drains. These are all beneficial corrosion protection aids, but they can lose efficacy when the volume of the flood water becomes overwhelming. Indeed, the force of a powerful storm can even displace the vessel and cause damage to the surrounding pipework. A damaged vessel seam or corroded hull panel will leak toxic fuel gradually, but this displacement event will critically saturate the local ground, thus drenching it in flammable liquid.

Leak Remediation

A massive leak is at least easy to detect, with emergency services providing a cordoned off barrier that will regulate the situation while an environmental control plan is initiated. It's the slower leak that causes problems, for the fuel leaks into the local water supply and poisons the environment slowly. Flooded urban areas suffer greatly from the after effects of this leakage condition.

Tank buoyancy is affected by prolonged submersion. Water and soil combine on a separate front as a metal eating influence, a corrosion and scouring agent that accelerates in potency as the weather darkens. Thankfully, modern engineering acumen imbues underground fuel tanks with great material and structural overhead, all the design elements that will stop these elemental forces in their tracks.

Contact Details

Fusion - Weld Engineering Pty Ltd
ABN 98 068 987619

1865 Frankston Flinders Road,
Hastings, VIC 3915

Ph: (03) 5909 8218

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