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Protecting our water – Keep chemicals in the tank

Spills and leaks can cause environmental problems, contaminate drinking water, and cost millions.

Storage tanks containing dangerous chemicals

The events in Charleston West Virginia make it clear that chemical storage tanks need to be secure, and that spills and leaks must be prevented where possible. This should extend to all industries that store chemicals which could contaminate water supplies. These industries include chemical, oil and gas, water and waste water, foundries and any other industry where toxic chemicals are stored.

Contamination from leaks or overfills

Recent events have shown that our water supply is in jeopardy of contamination from leaks or overfills of tanks at chemical, petroleum, water/wastewater and similar facilities. In Charleston, WV, a tank containing 4-methylcyclohexane methanol leaked, causing contamination of the Elk River. The Elk River provides over 300,000 people with drinking water. These people were without tap water for at least five days. The total effect of the spill may not be known for months or even years.

Prevention with proper instrumentation, monitoring & control

With an instrumentation and monitoring system, spills and leaks are detected at multiple levels - with tank monitors, HMI software and receiver testers providing redundancy. Where these incidents cannot be prevented, it is critical that they are quickly identified, and that a response plan is in place to mitigate damage and environmental impact. Outfitting tanks with overfill prevention switches and tank monitoring instruments will provide the security that is needed to prevent catastrophes.