top of page
  • J. Heaney

How To Choose An Above Ground Storage Tank Container

Spilling just one gallon fuel can contaminate as much as a million gallons of water. If you’re in the market for an above ground storage tank, or AST, you need a container that lives up to its name – not simply holding your inventory of petroleum fuel or some hazardous substance but ensuring that product cannot escape into the environment where it can harm people, plants and animals.

Any new above ground storage tank must be constructed of steel. But there are different types and sizes of containers, and the right one will depend on exactly what you’re storing, the volume and where your container is located.

Oil Spill

There’s more to choosing the right above ground storage tank than opening a catalog or pulling up a website and picking the container that looks best. Some AST requirements can be quite complex, especially those relating to venting. This is a good time to enlist the help of an environmental engineering professional. They can help you understand the intricacies of container selection and give you sound advice to steer you in the right direction.Because the risks associated with spills or leaks are potentially catastrophic, tanks need back-up protection in case something goes wrong. Usually a double-wall tank will meet requirements for secondary protection, or you can choose a container that’s surrounded by a dike system.

Planning ahead is always a good idea.

If there’s a chance you’ll need to increase storage capacity in the future, consider buying a larger above ground storage tank than you need right now. That will ultimately be less expensive than purchasing more tanks later, and a single larger tank requires less space than multiple tanks.

You can plan on ongoing federal and state regulation, too.

Choosing the right container will help you comply with requirements that apply to an above ground storage tank. In New York, most stringent rules apply to facilities with petroleum bulk storage of at least 1100 gallons or hazardous substance bulk storage in ASTs with a capacity of at least 185 gallons. In New Jersey, you’ll face extensive regulation if your facility stores a total of 20,000 gallons or more of non-petroleum hazardous substances or at least 200,000 gallons of any hazardous substance.

Any above ground storage tank that holds at least 660 gallons — or multiple tanks totaling at least 1320 gallons – are subject to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Spill, Prevention, Control and Countermeasure standards that define acceptable tank design, construction details and installation. These regulations also outline required monitoring and inspection requirements and remediation rules if you have a leak or spill.

Some local municipalities still don’t allow an above ground storage tank to be used for certain purposes, so be sure to check with them before making your final selection. Regulations can vary depending on whether or not the product you’re storing will be sold at retail or you’re only using it to fuel private motor vehicles.

Understanding the rules will help you select the right container.

Above ground storage tanks have definite benefits.

For some applications, an AST may not need to be fire-rated, which can lower the initial cost.

It can be significantly less expensive to install an above ground storage tank. Excavation and backfill work is minimal, since you can place the tank on a pad or footing. It’s much easier to check for leaks, damage or deterioration since you can see the tank and its accessory fittings and piping. And if you ever need to move the container, it’s a relatively easy procedure.

The right above ground storage tank will be safe and sturdy, and it provide sufficient capacity to serve you well for years to come.

Photo Credit: Savannah River Site

bottom of page