Tanks Containing Leaded Petrol Decontaminated with Low Waste

Environmental conditions met during petrochemical clean

Summary

Although the days of leaded vehicle fuel are over, the tanks in which petrol containing lead was once stored still present problems to the petrochemical industry. Lead decontamination to make the tanks ready for environmentally-sound disposal was a new challenge for Tube Tech.

Challenge

  • Three horizontal, 10 metres x 3 metres, cylindrical tanks at an oil refinery on the south coast of England required decontamination prior to demolition.
  • The contamination was in the form of lead deposits from the pre-environmentally aware days when petrol had a high lead content.
  • Removing this contamination was a potentially-hazardous operation and entry of workers into the tank was highly undesirable.
  • Before being awarded the contract, we had to satisfy the client that all safety precautions were met if not exceeded.
  • Blood tests were carried out on all operatives before, during and after the decontamination operation.

Solution

  • A dual-purpose, low-flow pump plus a remotely controlled Fury-Head was used.
  • A remote extendable, indexing arm was implemented to remove contamination from all surfaces within the three vessels.
  • The contaminated solution was taken away by tankers for safe disposal.
  • The tanks were then in a clean condition to enable cutting and disposal operations to begin.
  • The process was so fast that very little waste was created and no human entry was involved.
  • The 360-degree visible air suits the operators wore allowed ease of movement and uninterrupted visibility.
  • The speed and efficiency of the clean enabled other contractors to quickly carry out the next phase of the operation- removal of the tanks.

Tube Tech Comment

Ken McMahon, Senior Foreman said: “There were a number of extremely stringent safety conditions that had to be adhered to when working with such a hazardous substance. The decontamination exercise was a testament to team work and the right equipment being used for the right job.”

 

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