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Storage Tanks: Snapshots of Failures, Damages and Inspections

By Ana Benz |

Lessons learned from past failures provide insight and know-how needed toinspect and operate storage tanks reliably Storage tanks are a common sight at many facilities of the chemical process industries (CPI). Tanks are part of our everyday life and they appear deceivingly simple. However, they require a great deal of know-how and specialized knowledge to operate reliably. Otherwise, failures can occur. Some tank failures are well known by the public, as the following examples show: In 1919, an accident involving a distilling tank with molasses killed 21 persons in Massachusetts [1] In the 1984 Bhopal tragedy, people were exposed to methyl isocyanate gas, resulting in 3,787 or more deaths [2] In 2001, when a sulfuric-acid storage-tank failure in Delaware City, Delaware [3] resulted in one person’s death, eight others injured and significant damage to aquatic life Although the damage and failures discussed in this article have had less impact than these well-known examples, they underline that a great deal of know-how and attention to detail are needed to operate storage tanks reliably. The tank incidents presented are the following: Roof challenges Welding the drain nozzle in large steel tanks Crack in the floor-to-wall…
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