De-isolation and Returning the Tank to Service

Atmospheric Testing the Tank Interior
There are specific OSHA provisions for de-isolation and returning a tank to service. However, it is necessary to know the definition of "isolation" for tanks. The definition provided by OSHA includes:

There are specific OSHA provisions for de-isolation and returning a tank to service. However, it is necessary to know the definition of isolation for tanks.   Click To Tweet

"Isolation" means the process by which a permit space is removed from service and completely protected against the release of energy and material into the space by such means as: blanking or blinding; misaligning or removing sections of lines, pipes, or ducts; a double block and bleed system; lockout or tag out of all sources of energy; or blocking or disconnecting all mechanical linkages." In order to de-isolate and return a tank to service, the tank must be in isolation and have fulfilled all OSHA compliance regulations prior to isolation before it will be considered serviceable. The operator and management should begin by implementing Confined Space safety procedures for inspecting an isolated tank to be returned to service, as well as the perimeter around the location of tank. Other requirements include:
  • Documentation of tank integrity
  • Completion of tank system verification
  • Permit for reuse
  • Municipal, state or federal variance to return tank to service

The Basics of De-isolation and Returning the Tank to Service

It is of considerable importance to retrieve all prior documentation of degassing procedures, tank inspections, repair and maintenance. This is crucial data for a facility operator who has purchased property where a tank is located that has not been in use for a long period of time. If the new owner of the property intends to de-isolate and return the tank to service, contact information regarding compliance and maintenance is found on these prior documents. In the case of an abandoned tank where no prior records exist, the property owner will be required to perform an inspection of tank integrity and serviceability, a plan of worker safety for de-isolation procedures, type of startup and lock out/tag out equipment and systems and specifications for degassing, such as methodology and equipment. Only after all regulations for isolated tanks have been complied with will federal and state agencies issue approval for return to service.

Worker Safety during De-isolation Process

All facility managers are required to provide worker safety during phases of degassing and de-isolation. This includes work inside the tank, as well as outside the tank. OSHA provides several guidelines that include:
  • ANSI/API Standard 2015, Requirements for Safe Entry and Cleaning of Petroleum Storage Tanks (August 2001).
  • ANSI/API Recommended Practice 2016, Guidelines and Procedures for Entering and Cleaning Petroleum Storage Tanks, First Edition, (August 2001).
  • NFPA 326 – Standard for the Safe Guarding of Tanks and Containers for Entry, Cleaning or Repair.

Optimal Worker Safety

Optimal workplace safety is a result of well trained workers and management. Training is available for Illinois UST Class A/B training and other states online. Training includes emergency response management, detection, release and corrosion and spill and overfill protection as part of the training course. To enroll today, visit:

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