Chemical Storage Tanks – What You Need to Know

Chemical storage

Chemical storage tanks, transport and the use of chemicals is taken very seriously in the EU. After several chemical accidents in the 1970’s new rules were initiated to improve the safety of storing chemicals and transporting chemicals.

The European standard EN 12573:2000 for chemical handling has evolved since the 1990’s. The regulations have become more and more stringent to help protect human health and the environment.

The REACH regulations were designed by the EU and its member states to provide guidance to member states as to proper storage and what type of tanks can stand up to the rigors of chemicals.

Chemicals require special storage tanks because of corrosive properties that can easily eat through unlined metal tanks. Chemical storage tanks have to meet the regulations or you will risk heavy fines and penalties. Of course the right chemical storage tanks will also reduce not only your liability but risk.

There are different types of approved vessels that can keep both the regulators happy and keep your chemicals preserved.

Above Ground VS Underground

Once you have identified the need for a chemical storage tank than you have to decide where you will be storing these chemicals because there are different regulations for above ground and underground storage.

Underground tanks have to meet specific pressure vessel rules but can be the right answer if you are limited on storage space. Above ground tanks are typically preferred because they are easier to maintain and do visual inspections for wear.

In some areas underground chemical storage tanks are not permitted so you will have to check with your local authorities on the specifics.

Material Construction

There are different materials used to construct chemical tanks. There are also different standards when it comes to the construction of the tanks. For example there is the British Standard 4994, the German Welding Institute (DVS) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (RTP-1).

Some of the most common materials used in the construction of chemical storage tanks include polyethylene, glass reinforced plastic and thermoplastic options.

Each options has its own set of benefits and of course has its own set of cons as well. Understanding your options will go a long way in ensuring that you choose the right storage tank for your needs and to avoid tank failures.

Thermoplastic Chemical Storage Tanks

Thermoplastic chemical storage tanks are the most cost effective option that also meets the strict storage regulations. When they are used as self-supporting vertical tanks they are very economical, safe and regulation approved. They can be used for tank farms and other storage needs.

Thermoplastic chemical storage tanks reduce risk of leakage, misuse and chemical incidents. Thermoplastic chemical storage tanks offer:

  • A hard to beat level of resistance to corrosion
  • A preventive to taint
  • An easier way to store and transport chemicals
  • A high level of durability
  • Low maintenance
  • Holding tanks from 100 litres all the way to 100,000 litres

The level of corrosion resistance is very high, which is a huge factor when choosing chemical storage tanks. You can count on thermoplastic tanks to prevent taint.

They are easier to store than other types of tanks and much more portable but don’t be fooled by their ease of movement they are highly durable which means you have to replace them a lot less. They do not require constant attention or maintenance. They are available in a full range of sizes.

You can choose between a sloping base, conical base and a flat bottom base. They are offered in many different capacities and styles to best suit a wide range of needs.

They can be constructed with either open or closed lids for ease of use. They can easily be fitted with pressure valves to help prevent overflow fill issues.

There is a great deal of research and development that goes into the manufacturing of these types of tanks to ensure safe operation and longevity. The only down side of these types of tanks is that

Glass Reinforced Plastic

Glass reinforced plastic is typically the material of choice for storing petroleum products but it not typically used for highly corrosive chemicals because it can be a risky chemical storage material. These tanks are commonly referred to as FRP tanks.

They are still available and used for very specific chemicals but are not appropriate for all. One of the biggest issues with these types of tanks is that the fiberglass cannot be repaired if it becomes damaged.

Polyethylene Chemical Storage Tanks

Polyethylene tanks are used for all different types of chemicals. They are easily molded and customized. You can find these tanks in a full range of storage capacity, bottoms and shapes. These tanks are often the tank of choice because they are flexible storage options.

Polyethylene tanks do have one drawback they may not be the best storage options for petroleum chemicals because of the reaction of the petroleum and the PE (polyethylene) over time.

Mobile Tanks

If you need to be able to move your tank around either as part of the manufacturing process or for delivery purposes than you need a tank that is built for mobility. There are different specifications and guidelines for storage tanks that are made to be moved around.

For mobile chemical storage tanks they usually have to be double wall construction although in many cases (depending on the chemical composition) double walled construction is required anyway.

Risk Management

Chemical storage tanks are a very important part of the supply chain when it comes to risk management. Of course the obvious risk is human health hazards but it is not the only risk. There is a great deal of potential liability that your organization can face if something should go wrong.

Of course you also want to be able to protect your investment. Chemicals are not cheap and preserving them correctly is very important. You want to ensure that your investment stays safe and untainted. The right chemical storage tanks will do that for you.

Choose the right tanks for compliance purposes and to protect your inventory of chemicals!