Underground Storage Tanks – The Invisible Threat

Posted: March 8, 2017
Category: Groundwater Products
Tags: h.oil, nature, storage tanks, ust, water

Underground Storage Tanks – The Invisible Threat

The EPA estimates that there are approximately 561,000 Underground Storage Tanks (UST’s) in the United States storing petroleum, chemicals or hazardous substances.  This number does not include the many homes who have private storage tanks containing fuel oil for heating or cooking purposes.  Each of these tanks represent a potential threat of contamination to the groundwater.  Abandoned storage tanks pose another problem because their location is often unknown.  Any of these tanks can develop a leak as they age and corrode.

Red Hill, Hawaii is home to the largest underground fuel storage facility in the USA with a capacity of 250 million gallons of fuel.  The US Navy originally constructed this facility to support military operations in the Pacific.  These underground tanks, originally installed between 1940 and 1943 have recently been leaking, offering a significant threat to Oahu’s groundwater.  Work to evaluate and improve the situation was finally underway late last year.  The aquifer, located a mere 100 feet below the facility, is the source of the drinking water for hundreds of thousands of local Honolulu area residents.

Underground storage tanks can be vulnerable during natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or fires.  After such an event, testing to ensure no release of hazardous substances has occurred is of vital importance. 

Approximately 16,000 chemical spills occur from trucks, trains and storage tanks annually when materials are being transferred.

Any of the potential pollutants mentioned above can migrate through the soil, reach the groundwater table, and compromise the water supply of local homes and businesses.

In order to safeguard our water resources, monitoring of the groundwater is vital.  Monitoring wells in close proximity to known UST’s should be tested regularly for the presence of liquid phase-separated product in the well.

If a leak is discovered a Contaminant Management Plan will be put into effect to continually monitor the petroleum related contamination. This enables an immediate response and a remediation plan to be started if the problem becomes a more serious risk to the environmental conditions. 

Heron Instruments Interface Meter H.0IL is an excellent choice to assist you with these investigations.  By using this interface meter you can get an instant indication of any contaminant in the monitoring well along with the depth of the pollutant film.  It will also show any increase in the contaminant level in the well so remediation can be started as soon as required.  Including a Heron Instruments H.0IL in your monitoring protocol could help detect such problems earlier and allow for faster response times and remediation.

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