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Tank Farm Final

Clean-up and Removal Operations

      The tank farm series has covered all the general areas required by NFPA 472 for requirements of a FLBSS {Flammable Liquid Bulk Storage Specialist}. While these elements are in addition to certification as a “Hazardous Materials Specialist” I am a solid believer in the concept of experience. Classes “ADD” to a FLBSS, “EXPERIENCE” “MAKES” a FLBSS. In every task, daily operation is the only way to perfect your skills. Increased knowledge from classes and independent study increases “wisdom”, which is the needed element to make correct and prudent choices during an emergency incident to safeguard life. Product and structures can always be replaced, life cannot. The final area of concern for the FLBSS is site safety and fire control during clean-up and removal operations.

     Once the emergency is abated, and the fire, product, and spill is under control and confined, crew rotation should be looked at. If the same crew is being used for clean-up operations, a long rest and recovery should be activated. It is during the overhaul operations where many personnel have been injured. While some elements of management are always in a hurry to return to “normal business” they must be educated into the fold to prevent post incident operational fatalities. The resulting

     Environmental remediation can be delayed; this may very well save a life. Recommend all personnel rest for at least 24hrs after a major event such as this. If you can rotate fresh troops into the site, make sure all used personnel LEAVE the site! Injuries happen to the exhausted trying to help out, the incident would be a total loss if a worker was injured or killed AFTER the emergency was abated. This would be plain, poor, judgment and should never be tolerated by those in Command.

     Two major hazards at post tank farm incidents are re-ignition, and physical hazards. Foam lines and equipment must remain on-site until all “Product” is secured and explosive vapors eliminated. Respiratory protection must remain in use by all personnel on-site in contact with “free” product. When the fire is out, the workers are still exposed to fumes and burnt materials that off-gas harmful by-products. Foam blankets should be applied to all areas where workers are removing tank pieces or anything involved in the fire. This minimizes vapor contact to any exposed skin if workers are wearing a lowered level of personal protective equipment.

     Slip and fall hazards are frequent due to the disarray of tank parts. Lighting should be brought into work areas to minimize these injuries, as a damaged area may no longer be oriented to tank farm personnel. Sharp metal edges of damaged tanks and piping require abrasion resistant PPE {Personal Protective Equipment} for all workers involved. Durable clothing such as “Car-hart”, thick work gloves, and hard hats should be mandatory. When cutting large sections or tank “courses” be aware of the pieces balance before and after the cuts are made. Know which way these cut pieces will fall before they are cut. This will allow equipment and personnel to be moved away from the area of impact. As such, EMS should be on-scene in the advent of any injury needing treatment or transport to a medical facility. Before destroyed materials are removed from the site, they must be decontaminated. A power-washer in this instance is an excellent tool. All cut pieces can be transported to an acceptable area where run-off can be collected, and power-washed. After this step, the pieces can be drained and loaded into the transportation vehicle, ready for off-site removal. Most of this work will be completed by tank farm personnel, but it would be an asset to have the Hazardous Materials Team do the decontamination. This frees up tank farm personnel and insures proper decontamination methods are employed.

     Once the site is cleared, the remaining soil contamination should be dealt with before “normal business” begins. In this situation, it is advisable to have contaminated soil samples be drawn by EPA {Environmental Protection Agency} personnel. Samples taken will be correctly collected under the EPA’s sample gathering technique and be sent out to the appropriate EPA/CLP {Contract Lab Program} facility. This insures proper procedure in the advent of any future litigation over Environmental and human health exposure concerns.

     The key to successful operations at Tank Farms is to have solid, friendly, working relationships with your Tank Farm Operators. It is only through this, that your incident will function in a smooth, safe manner to minimize carnage at a Tank Farm Spill, or Fire incident.

                                               Haz Mat Mike  

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