The Evolution of Tanknology

The same year that the first nationwide EPA regulations governing underground fuel storage tanks were developed, a company was created to help oil companies and small independent gas station operators come to grips with what was required in the new law — and help them through the testing and upgrade programs necessary to bring their facilities into compliance.

That was 1988, when Tanknology was formed with a mission to “Serve the evolving needs of fuel storage tank owners by providing the broadest range of testing, inspection and compliance management.”

Initial 1988 regulations required leak detection for tanks and piping for the first time, in the form of monthly inventory control combined with annual tightness testing, and owners were required to demonstrate financial responsibility for their facilities. By 1998, UST’s were required to be equipped with leak detection, spill & overfill protection and corrosion protection.

The new requirements were far-reaching. Too far, for many operators, as many facilities were simply taken out of business. EPA has reported that what began as a population exceeding 2 million tanks in 1988, became a little more than one-half million by 2017.

Tanknology’s original mission to “serve the evolving needs of fuel storage tank owners” has never been more important than it is today.

Today’s newest regulations include requirements for secondary containment on new and replaced fuel tanks and piping; approved operator training at facilities; periodic operational inspections and maintenance; and ensuring tank system compatibility before storing certain biofuel blends. EPA also removed the previous deferrals in the original regulations for emergency generator tanks, field constructed tanks and airport hydrant systems.

Allen Porter, Tanknology’s President and CEO, said new regulations bring a new responsibility to help customers achieve compliance.

“We pride ourselves on our ability to quickly develop solutions for the evolving regulatory needs of our clients,” Porter said. “This new round of federal regulations is no exception. As examples, we developed enhanced testing systems for spill buckets, efficient processes for sump testing, periodic inspection programs for tank sites, and compliance programs to help operators with the previously deferred tank sites such as emergency generators, all bring their systems into compliance with the new laws.”

Porter noted, “Compliance with these new requirements begins for many operators on October 13 of this year – which is not much time for many of them who must now comply with federal environmental regulations for the first time.”

Reacting to the testing and inspection needs of the UST market has taken many different forms over Tanknology’s more than 30 years in business.

When in 2013, extensive corrosion began surfacing in the steel components of diesel UST systems, Tanknology’s TankCam® remote visual inspection service was utilized for an EPA study to assess the nature and severity of the problem via remote video. The conclusion: 83 percent of diesel corrosion systems contained moderate to severe corrosion.

When use of ethanol-blended fuels came on the scene in the mid-2000’s, it wasn’t long before operators were noticing fuel performance problems in tank systems caused by the presence of water and debris in the tank. Tanknology developed Ethanol Preparation services in 2006 to help operators clean and prepare their tanks for the introduction of ethanol, thereby minimizing phase separation of the fuel and the associated fuel performance problems.

Management of testing results and the sharing of data between sites, client headquarters and Tanknology offices became dramatically easier in 1999 when Tanknology released the predecessor to its TANCS™ system, the most robust data access system for compliance testing services available in the industry. Tanknology customers can see from their desktop detailed information about their sites, services performed, schedules, results of tests and site data – dramatically improving their ability to closely monitor their compliance status.

The quality of fuel became an especially acute issue in the mid-1990s and Tanknology developed its FuelPure™ fuel cleaning and polishing system which is still provided today. More recently, Tanknology developed the TankClean™ high pressure tank cleaning system incorporating the company’s TankCam system to facilitate the cleaning with a clear view of the inside of the tank throughout the cleaning process.

This list goes on, Porter said. “As the industry evolves, we continue to evolve with it.”

Tanknology has more than 30 unique services focused on helping tank owners remain in compliance with myriads of federal, state and local regulations throughout the U.S. and in countries around the world.

“We are pleased to be in a position to help so many companies with their regulatory compliance programs,” Porter said, “many of them we have served throughout our 30 year history. As regulations continue to change and evolve, we plan to be right along side these clients, developing technological solutions and services to help keep them in compliance.”