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EEMUA Guidance on Above Ground Horizontal Rectangular Metallic Storage Tanks

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Picture of Anamika Talwaria

Anamika Talwaria

Editor & Head of Content for Tank Storage Magazine & StocExpo and Chair of Women in Tanks.

Many tank operators will be familiar with EEMUA Publication 159 Users’ Guide to the Inspection, Maintenance, and Repair of Above Ground Flat Bottomed Storage Tanks. This has become the de facto standard for stakeholders in such equipment and is widely used worldwide. Specific and comprehensive guidance for the use of plastic tanks is also provided in EEMUA Publication 225 Above Ground Plastic Tanks: A guide to their specification, installation, commissioning, inspection, maintenance, repair and disposal. Although some industry publications are available elsewhere, there has been little in the way of guidance, comparable to EEMUA 159 and 225, for users of above-ground, rectangular, metallic storage tanks.


Aboveground, Rectangular, Metallic Storage Tanks

These types of tanks are widely used for fuel storage (e.g. diesel) across a range of industries and applications, from small installations in agricultural settings to multi-tank systems on petrochemical sites. They can often be well-managed, providing many years of incident-free service. But in numerous cases, they can also be treated as low priority items, with lifetime, inspection and maintenance based purely on manufacturers’ recommendations for nominal operating conditions. These recommendations can be quite simplistic and often do not account for the specific conditions of tank usage and any associated damage mechanisms or degradation, leading to leakage, tank failure in-service, and to the unnecessary scrapping of serviceable tanks. UK regulators such as the Health & Safety Executive have also highlighted concerns, particularly on COMAH sites, as to the adequacy and effectiveness of existing tank inspection and maintenance schemes.



To address such ongoing concerns, and to complement the above referenced publications, EEMUA formed a work group comprising of experts and advisors from the user community, tank system suppliers, and wider industry. The group’s objective was to develop practical, pragmatic guidance, in the form of an EEMUA Publication, to help reduce the risk of in-service failure of tanks and, where appropriate, to enable the extension of operating life.

The document (to be titled EEMUA Publication 244 Above Ground Horizontal Rectangular Metallic Storage Tanks) is aimed at owners and operators and will address the complete life cycle management of a tank. A range of topics are to be covered, including tank specification, procurement, installation, commissioning, inspection, maintenance, repair, end-of-life considerations and safe disposal. The document will also provide a comprehensive and detailed approach to periodic inspection, suggesting intervals of annual, 5 years and 10 years. An internal tank inspection is recommended at the 10-year interval. The document also considers the inspection of inaccessible surfaces, which is a key concern for tank terminals.

The main recommendation is that new systems should be installed with adequate clearance, thus enabling lower tank surfaces to be properly inspected. It is noted that this is likely to be a significant challenge for tank suppliers and operators to achieve.


Scope Explained

The scope of the document is generally for tanks located on high hazard sites or sites where tank failure may lead to significant health, safety or environmental consequences. For example, sites that come under specific regulations such as the UK Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations, (COMAH) which were the UK implementation of the EU Seveso Directive. The guidance will also be equally applicable to non-COMAH or lower risk sites.

The guidance is generally intended to be used for storage of flammable liquids (as defined in the CLP Regulation) with a flashpoint of 23°C or higher e.g. diesel, kerosene etc. At the reader’s discretion, it may be applicable to other substances, but caution would need to be exercised! It should be noted that tanks containing highly or extremely flammable substances with a flash point less than 23°C (e.g. petrol, methanol etc.) are specifically excluded, as different codes and guidance would be deemed to be more applicable.

A thorough reference list of other relevant documents is provided and, although these are mainly made up of UK legislation, standards and guidance, appropriate local and international references, including design codes, can be followed if deemed more appropriate by the reader.


What’s Not Included?

Although the guidance is intended to be comprehensive, it is important to highlight that it is not a generic guide to all tanks. The guidance is specifically intended for use with aboveground, horizontal, rectangular, metallic storage tanks. Hence, generally excluded at this stage, are underground tanks, IBCs, totes, and cylindrical tanks. Reference to these may be included in future updates to the document.


Publication In 2024

The document is currently being assessed as part of EEMUA’s peer review process, with publication targeted for later in 2024. It is anticipated that adoption of the recommendations by the tank user community will bring significant improvements to the safe management of rectangular metallic storage tanks and result in minimisation of risk of leakage and in reduced deterioration and associated failures.


For more information: digital/eemua-publication-159 digital/eemua-publication-225

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