ECS Eclipse News

Understanding Your Automatic Tank Gauging System

October 19, 2010 (comments: 0)

Know your Automatic Tank Gauge (ATG). 

What is an ATG and what is its purpose? To simplify, an ATG is a system with probes and sensors put in place to quickly identify leaks and to prevent significant impacts to the environment.

Being the owner and/or operator of an underground storage tank system you have a vested interest on the impact a leaking tank can have on the environment. Costly cleanups, liability, notices of violation (NOV’s), impacts to the environment and impacts to your business all can play a role if product is released. If you do not understand your automatic tank gauge and its function and purpose, you risk that scenario.

If you do not already know how to properly maintain and operate your ATG, insist that your service provider, installer or consultant properly train you. Have them provide clear, concise instructions on the proper operation and maintenance of your system including what is required for weekly / monthly and annual compliance. Familiarize yourself with the requirements for documentation of the required weekly / monthly and annual reports. Keep these records readily available for any inspector upon request.

This may sound real obvious, but make sure your ATG is turned on at all times. I have been to many locations where the store was not 24 hours and would close at 10pm. The attendants / operators at closing time were shutting the power breaker off to the ATG system. When the ATG system is turned off it cannot monitor the tank system.

Don’t ignore an alarm. Ignoring an alarm defeats the purpose of having the ATG system to begin with. Plus you are federally required through the regulations to maintain leak detection. The earlier you can identify a leak the less costly it becomes. Document the alarm condition and the response actions and service performed and report the alarm condition to the appropriate authority if required. It is highly recommended that you immediately investigate and confirm all suspected leaks. Some states require this notification. When in doubt, report it. Many NOV’s have been issued by inspectors from regulatory agencies for failure to report a potential release to the environment.

Maintain the ATG system. Most states require that maintenance be performed following the manufacturers recommendations. Some states and jurisdictions require full functionality tests be performed. I personally prefer a full functionality of the ATG be performed on an annual basis as a preventative measure. Some ATG manufactures take the stance that the system self diagnosis itself and will let you know when it is not working properly. Although that statement in itself is correct, it does not take into account the human factor. I have been to many locations over the years to perform service on systems and found that although a sensor reads normal it does not go into alarm when an alarm is simulated. In some of these cases, I found that the programming was set up incorrectly and needed to be programmed properly. In the cases of Double Wall tank systems if the interstitial sensor is not programmed properly and not alarming, then you run the risk of a potential leak going undetected. During these annual inspections the maintenance personnel can also identify areas of service that may need to be performed to keep the ATG system running smoothly. Examples include replacing corroded ATG caps, sensor and wiring issues.

Put the responsibility of overseeing the ATG system with a competent person. Whether that is yourself or one of your employees, make sure that the system and its functions are understood. Verify that all your on-site employees are aware of the ATG system and at the very least, know what it does and who to notify when an alarm occurs.

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