Are you Storing Chemicals Carefully in Your Plastic Storage Tanks?

Are you Storing Chemicals Carefully in Your Plastic Storage Tanks?
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Are you Storing Chemicals Carefully in Your Plastic Storage Tanks?


July 2, 2021

When the word chemical comes to mind, other words that follow may be dangerous, deadly, or even explosive. Whether it be a cleaning supply or an oil company, all chemicals should be safely placed in steel, fiberglass, or plastic storage tanks for every industry. If chemicals are not stored safely, the situation can turn from bad to worse in seconds. The United States Department of Labor stated that there are "60,000 deaths and 860,000 occupational illnesses per year in the U.S. attributed to occupational exposure.” One of the preventative measures that companies could have taken to protect their workers is if these hazardous substances were stored in durable, plastic storage tanks.

Read more on the importance of chemical storage tanks and what types of tanks you should have to store your chemicals properly.


The Correct Way to Store Chemicals in Plastic Storage Tanks

There are five aspects that must be kept in mind when storing chemicals: labeling, moisture, protection, segregation, and ventilation.

  1. Labeling: All chemicals should be labeled as to what type of chemical they are and their likelihood of causing hazards. If deemed hazardous, the label needs to have a hazard warning attached to the tank no matter if it’s a plastic cone bottom tank or vertical storage tank.
  2. Moisture: Moisture is significant when it involves the integrity of the tank. Over time if a tank is consistently exposed to moisture, it can cause corrosion, with leakage being the potential outcome. Some chemicals, when paired with water, can react violently as well.
  3. Protection: Installation is vital for safety. Coverings, pipes, and tank fittings must be inspected after. Protecting the plastic storage tanks will prevent leaks and deterioration later down the road.
  4. Segregation: Chemicals must be separated by how reactive or hazardous they can be. Chemicals can be divided based on flammability, acids, or minerals.
  5. Ventilation: Tanks need to have sufficient ventilation to prevent toxic vapors or gases from being released. Proper ventilation will also decrease the risk of overpressure.


Common Types of Chemical Storage Tanks

There are two types of chemical storage tanks, which include above and underground tanks. Where the chemicals are stored is dependent on what kind of chemicals are in the containers. Keep in mind that there are different regulations for each kind due to the variations in maintenance, sturdiness, storage capacity, etc.


Above-ground tanks

  1. Maintenance: The upkeep of above-ground tanks is less complicated than underground tanks. Repairs such as leakage can be easily spotted and fixed by professionals.
  2. Durability: Depending on how well a chemical tank is maintained, these tanks can have a lifespan of up to two decades or longer.
  3. Storage capacity: Both above-ground and underground storage tanks can have storage capacity complications because of flammability factors. Above-ground tanks, though, do have the ability to store many types of chemicals or oils.


Underground tanks

  1. Maintenance: Since these types of storage tanks are below, the upkeep can be an issue. If there is not an ample amount of light, finding and fixing a problem can be difficult. Experts state that underground tanks must be inspected every 36 months.
  2. Durability: The longevity of a buried tank is 10-15 years. If the underground tanks are not installed properly, their life expectancy can be shortened. Underground tanks, though, are protected from harsh weather. If the pipes connected to the tank are not installed correctly in freezing temperatures, the channels can crack.
  3. Storage Capacity: Underground storage tanks can not sustain many types of chemicals. For example, copious amounts of petroleum can not be stored underground because if leakage occurs, it can be detrimental to underground water systems. Underground tanks also have a higher chance of explosions than above-ground tanks.


Fiberglass or Plastic Storage Tanks? 

The type of storage tank you choose will rely on the kinds of chemicals that will be stored. You can also add various liquids to preserve the tank over time.

Polyethylene or the material frequently used to make plastic, has several advantages. Plastic storage tanks are manufactured by machines, which means there is a decreased chance of human error. They can also hold a wide variety of corrosive chemicals. Corrosive chemicals are defined as chemicals that come in contact with other substances and can cause irreparable damage.

It is critical to keep corrosive chemicals separated—the higher the concentration of the chemical, the more destruction it can cause. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, human contact with corrosive chemicals can severely damage the epidermis and cause permanent scarring.

Fiberglass chemical storage tanks are not made as one piece, but several. The areas where the pieces connect can potentially be weakened and cause leakage for years to come. Fiberglass containers require an immense amount of labor, leading to an increase in cost, and are subject to human error. One of the primary benefits of storing your chemicals in a fiberglass tank is that the chemicals will be sealed nicely and are resistant to abrasions.


Chemicals that are Frequently Stored in Plastic Tanks

Careful measures must be taken when storing corrosive chemicals. Plastic containers provide the bandwidth these classes of chemicals need to keep others safe and prevent contamination in surrounding bodies of water or soil.


Common types of chemicals stored in plastic containers include:

  • Hydrochloric acid: This type of chemical is used often in the industrial industry to make steel and cleaning supplies. The acid can also be mixed with other chemicals to produce substances found in the processing of foods such as cookies. Surprisingly, hydrochloric acid is also a chemical our bodies naturally have. It aids the digestive tract in breaking down foods and also kills bacteria.
  • Sodium hydroxide: Commonly known as caustic soda, sodium hydroxide is one of the leading chemicals used to make soap and cleaning products. Lack of coloring and odor are just some of the characteristics that describe this chemical. Just because it does not look intimidating does not mean that it is not. When sodium hydroxide comes into contact with moisture, it can produce heat that can be explosive.
  • Sulfuric acid: Sulfuric acid is one of the most dangerous acids and can be deadly if not appropriately used within the home. It is an ingredient found in drain cleaners, and batteries and used to create explosives.

No matter what type of container or chemical, proper chemical storage is essential for preserving the integrity of chemicals, keeping the environment toxic-free, and preventing people from dangerous illnesses.

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