Overview of Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs)

Aboveground Storage Tanks (AST) are large containers usually made of metal and resting on top of the ground, designed to temporarily hold a number of different liquid or gas substances. These substances can range from water to crude oil to various chemical products.

One of the many standards that apply to aboveground storage tanks is API 653, "Tank Inspection, Repair, Alteration, and Reconstruction." It was developed and published by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and it provides guidelines for the inspection, repair, alteration, and reconstruction of steel aboveground storage tanks used in the petroleum and chemical industries. Before 2000, this was actually the only standard that applied to aboveground storage tanks.

There have also been several standards released by the Steel Tank Institute/Steel Plate Fabricators Association (STI/SPFA), a trade organization which represents fabricators of steel construction products, such as steel storage tanks, field erected water tanks, pressure vessels, pipes, and pipelines, and their suppliers. STI SP001 was released in 2000 and covers inspection requirements for welded metal, shop-fabricated, and small field-erected tanks among other things.

In the United States ASTs are also regulated by the federal government under 40 CFR 112, which provides certain minimum requirements for how storage tanks are designed, managed, and monitored. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) places extra requirements on any facilities, not related to transport, that happen to have a total aboveground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons. On top of general regulations, these facilities must also comply with special Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations. This is because should they leak or rupture, ASTs can cause catastrophic damage to the environment, polluting lakes and rivers, and endangering human lives.

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