Civil Engineering Work: Inspection of Fuel and Oil Bund Storage Systems

22 November 2018

Some all-inclusive rules must be adhered to when civil engineers approach hydrocarbon bunding inspections. There are ignitable materials here, so no spark creating tools are permitted. A maintenance schedule is recommended here, considering the dangers that exist inside bunding areas. First things first, though. Before starting the hydrostatic tests and scheduled inspections, just what is bunding?

Exploring a Bunding Facility

Combustible fluids are stored in a fuel depot. Down the road apiece, an oil containment facility is operating similarly. Retaining walls and embankments surround the oil and fuel filled vessels. They’re there to contain environmentally harmful materials, should they escape from their storage systems. This is bunding, an infrastructure solution that acts as a secondary layer of area protecting cover. First comes the fluid tanks, installed by engineers, then comes the subsidiary walls and drainage mechanisms, which collect and stop hazardous fuels and oils.

Oil and Fuel Bund Inspections

There are galvanized straps earthing the compound. They equalize potential differences throughout the site, so no voltage-induced sparks can be generated. Lightning protection rods further protect the facility. As for the bunding constructs, there are walls to check for damage. Is the concrete in good condition? If there are sump basins on the premises, they’ll need to be inspected for cracks and clogs. Looking at the concrete paving, it’s graded so that any spills are channelled towards the sumps. No obstructions can be allowed to gather here, not if the fluids are to be collected safely in their basins. Remember, even a scrap of paper becomes a threat in here, for collected piles of rubbish can ignite if a combustible fluid leaks.

Bunding Maintenance: Hydrostatic Testing

Since bunding facilities are essentially empty oil and fuel containment structures, a bund integrity assessment test can incorporate a water loading examination. In effect, the bund is filled with water. If the level of this pool drops, then there’s a leak in the bunding walls. Of course, evaporative effects and rainfall events must be accounted for if this test is undertaken.

Even a thick concrete wall can be ever so slightly porous. Newer oil and fuel bunds employ coatings of hydrocarbon resistant plastic, which perform excellently as wall and ground sealants. These plastic-sealed surfaces also require inspection. Keeping hazardous oils and fuels behind ramp and hump shaped embankments, storage facilities retain an infrastructurally critical liquid barrier. That’s a feature that benefits wastewater processing compounds, wine and beer production sites, and more. But bunding systems are more than a structural asset when they’re utilized as hydrocarbon barriers, they’re absolutely essential.

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