Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Is testing the functionality of an automatic tank gauge really important?

The Federal EPA, along with many States have adopted, or are in the process of implementing rules requiring operators to conduct periodic functionality testing of their ATG systems.  There has been some confusion on what is required, and how a functionality test should be performed.

Operators have made a significant investment in either installing or purchasing a site equipped with a tank gauge system, including sophisticated electronic line leak detectors in many cases.  That investment is intended to provide you with important protection against potentially catastrophic environmental problems.  An improperly maintained ATG system can fail to alert you to a tank taking on water, or losing product into the ground – both very costly.  Are you positive that your system is working properly and providing you the protection you are counting on?

There is a common misconception that pushing the red button and seeing “All Functions Normal” or a similar message is sufficient for a functionality test.  This can lead to a false sense of security, as your system may in fact not be working properly.

When choosing a vendor to perform your ATG functionality test or certification, you should make sure that their staff is trained and certified to work on your system, and that they will physically inspect each component, including tank gauge probes, sump and interstitial sensors, and the console itself.  Anyone who simply pushes the red button and tells you that everything is OK isn’t helping you protect yourself.

An ATG functionality test is an inexpensive way to protect your investment, reduce risks associated with a leak that isn’t caught or a costly regulatory violation due to non-compliance.  In most cases this test can be performed with little or no interruption to normal fueling activity.

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