Underground Storage Tanks Hurricane Preparedness

Although there are no guarantees, there are some precautionary measures tank owners can take to be better prepared for a hurricane or tropical storm.

Before the storm:

  • Check into the availability of manual product pumps to be used after a storm before electrical service is restored.
  • Ensure all caps on tank risers have gaskets and fill spouts are tight to help keep water out of the tank.
  • Ensure vent lines have proper caps to reduce the amount of water and debris that might enter through the vent lines. The vent lines should be properly anchored where they emerge from the ground.
  • Ensure shear valves are properly anchored and operational. An analysis of shear valve operations during the Gulf Coast storms of 2005 suggests that it is a good idea to trip the shear valves by hand before the storm arrives.
  • Most tanks located in coastal or flood prone areas are installed with concrete anchors or "dead men" and straps. It is also best to keep a fair amount of product in the tanks as ballast to help keep the tanks from floating.
  • Take a rectifier amperage reading to use to compare after the storm for system functionality.
  • At the fuse box/breaker panel, turn off the power to all equipment associated with the tank system including suction pumps, submersible turbine pumps (relay boxes), dispensers (Ruby system), impressed current (rectifier box), Automatic Tank Gauge, etc.
  • Stick the tanks prior to the storm and record the amounts for verification once the storm passes.

There is no surefire method for protecting UST assets during a hurricane or tropical storm; however, these measures can lessen the damage. It is also important to have a plan ready now, before the storm is coming. Be prepared with the EPA's Underground Storage Tank Flood Guide (PDF).

There are also precautions to be taken after the storm has moved through.

After the storm:

  • Visually check the concrete surrounding the tank system. If there is severe damage, do not restart the system. Contact the Division immediately at 803-898-0589 or 803-898-2544.
  • Stick the tanks and compare the amount to the before-storm level. If the level post storm is less (and there is no obvious sign of theft), a release may have occurred. Contact the Division immediately at 803-898-0589 or 803-898-2544.
  • Visually check all equipment before trying to restore power to the system.
  • Check the wiring and junction boxes along with the rectifier for impressed current cathodic protection systems before restoring power. Power must be restored to an impressed current system within 30 days of disconnection. Take reading of rectifier amperage. Compare to pre-storm reading. If significantly lower, contact the Division and a cathodic protection repair technician immediately.
  • Be alert to indications of electrical shorts or failed wiring as you attempt to restart the system.
  • Reset the shear valves.
  • Conduct frequent checks of all dispensing equipment, sumps, dispenser pans, and measure for water in the tank several times during the first couple days after resuming operation.
  • Be alert for unusual operating conditions such as slow dispensing of fuel, frequent alarms, customer complaints or equipment shut downs.

For more information, see the EPA Flood Guide and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division webpage.


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