Storing Diesel Fuel Safely

Posted: April 22, 2024

Trust Murray-Heutz with your diesel fuel needs

diesel fuel Winthrop, ME In industries where machines are the backbone of daily operations, diesel fuel serves as the lifeblood. It powers a wide array of vehicles and equipment, from massive tractor-trailers across the country to the reliable farm machinery that sustains our agricultural needs.

For fleet managers and the agriculture sector, the storage of diesel fuel is not just about safeguarding a commodity; it’s about ensuring operational continuity, cost-efficiency, and, crucially, safety.

This detailed guide explores how to uphold safety while storing diesel fuel, providing an essential handbook for responsible fuel management in your sector.

Diesel storage safety essentials

Diesel fuel is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons. It is less volatile than gasoline, containing more energy per unit volume (around 139,000 BTUs per gallon).

The chemical composition of diesel fuel is what makes it conducive for long-term storage but also requires a careful approach. Diesel has a higher flash point than gasoline, meaning it has a lower risk of igniting from an open flame, and lower vapor pressure, reducing the risk of vapor emissions and loss.

However, it is also prone to contamination from water, microorganisms, and particulates, which can lead to fuel degradation and engine malfunction.

To combat these issues, proper storage conditions must be maintained, such as keeping fuel tanks sealed and away from moisture, using quality filters, and ensuring a regular turnover of stored fuel.

Regulatory considerations

Regulatory requirements for diesel fuel storage are stringent, with the primary goal to protect the environment and public health. Agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have detailed rules that must be followed. Key considerations include proper storage tank design and maintenance, spill and overfill prevention, and secondary containment systems. In addition, industry-specific regulations may apply, such as those from the Department of Transportation (DOT) for mobile refueling operations or the Department of Agriculture for farm storage activities. Compliance with these regulations is non-negotiable and should form the basis of any storage strategy.

Safe diesel fuel storage best practices

Infrastructure and tanks: The storage infrastructure for diesel fuel needs to be robust and designed to withstand the elements. Storage tanks should be made of non-corrosive materials, such as aluminum or iron, to prevent leaks and contamination. Tanks should also be installed on a stable, impermeable base to avoid settlement and subsequent tank or pipe failure.

Equipment and transfer: Obtaining high-quality transfer and containment equipment is vital to maintaining the integrity of your diesel fuel. Fuel transfer pumps should be properly grounded and bonded to prevent static electricity buildup, which can lead to sparks and fires. Likewise, all fuel delivery vehicles should have spill kits, emergency shutoffs, and regular inspections to ensure their safe condition and proper functioning.

Maintenance and monitoring: Regular maintenance is key to preventing diesel fuel degradation. This includes inspecting tanks and equipment for signs of wear or damage, routinely cleaning filters and water separators, and periodically testing fuel for quality. Impose strict controls on who has access to the fuel storage area and ensure a chain of custody for all fuel added or removed from the storage facility.

Environmental and safety considerations

The environmental and safety risks associated with improper diesel fuel storage can be severe.

Diesel spills and leaks can contaminate soil and water, with long-lasting effects on ecosystems.

From a safety perspective, the presence of combustible materials and potential ignition sources in storage areas can lead to fires and explosions.

Such incidents not only pose a threat to personnel but also can cause significant property damage and business interruption. Taking a proactive approach to storage safety is the best defense against these risks.

Whether you’re managing a fleet or a farm, Murray-Heutz offers customized diesel fuel delivery and service. Contact us today for a consultation.