Why is Release Detection necessary?
Release detection is crucial since it prevents the release of regulated substances that may otherwise be harmful to the environment. This includes diesel, gasoline, used oil etc. All pipes and tanks that contain these substances are monitored regularly. Otherwise the leaks can contaminate water supplies and soil and can also result in costs due to remediation expenses.
By detecting these releases early, you can nip contaminations in the bud before they spread to other worksites and the surrounding area. This is actually a rule from the EPA which allows 3 types of release detection methods namely external, internal and interstitial. Each has 7 methods of detecting leaks.
Effective detection relies on a quick response to leaks as and when they are detected. By remaining proactive in this regard you can protect the environment, reduce costs of cleanup and respond to liability claims without incurring penalties.
More often than not leaks from UST systems (pipes and tanks holding the substance) affect soil and groundwater over an area that is much larger than on which the tanks and pipes are located. This means the leaked substances affect other parties which increases cost of cleanup and legal charges.
Release detection should be prioritized in both pipes and the tanks they are attached to. The leak detection rules apply right up to the point where the pipes emerge from the ground and attach to the dispenser. The leak detection focuses on pipes and other components of the UST system that are buried underground and not those that are installed aboveground such as dispensers.
There are a number of ways to monitor tanks and pipes of these systems for leaks and ruptures and many of them are used in combos to ensure compliance. For instance, some processes focus on covered tanks only while others focus on piping only. Still there are some that focus on both pipes and tanks.
To reduce chances of leaks in a UST system
, you need to maintain the following written records:
- Documented proof that all maintenance claims are being met and the means through which performance was measured. This includes the manufacturer of the equipment and ensuring that probabilities of false alarms are being met or not.
- All results for monitoring, sampling and testing.
- Results for tank tightening tests until the next test.
- Results and schedules for all repair, calibration and maintenance efforts of release detection tools and equipment that are located on site. The schedules should be retained for at least 5 years from the date the equipment was installed or looked over.
In addition, you also need to make sure that the results are retained for a year as determined by the required authorities. You may also need to keep other records for specific release detection methods.
How the release detection system works
There should be a secondary containment unit that acts as a barrier between the tank and the area around it. This ensures that potential leaks remain near the tank or between it and the barrier for easy leak detection. The barrier is shaped in such a way that all leaks are directed towards the interstitial monitor.
Different tanks may have different kinds of barriers attached. These can include those that are double walled – the main tank is surrounded either completely or partially by a wall. Some tanks may have bladders or liners fitted around them. However, liners and walls made from clay or other earthy materials are not acceptable as secondary barriers.
Leaks are monitored via different monitors which focus on the area between the barriers and the tank. Operators are alerted if a potential leak is spotted and before it gets any bigger. Depending on the monitors being used, operators may either see the actual leaked substance or changes in the condition of the substance. This can be anything from brine to petroleum.
Monitors can also be used as dip or measuring sticks to determine whether the product has leaked or not at the lowest point of a containment unit. Automated ones can check continuously for such leaks to mitigate risks.
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