Storage Tank Regulations in Canada: Two to Know

In Canada, regulations for fuel storage tanks are found in the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations. When you have fuel storage tanks, you must ensure you’re in compliance with these rules or you could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and other serious penalties. There are many regulations, including the two covered below, so if you are not sure whether you are in compliance, contact an experienced fuel services provider for assistance.

Leak detection systems

In Canada, operators and owners of storage tank systems have to be able to detect any leaks coming from their systems. With leak monitoring and detection, an operator or owner will be notified about a leak as soon as it happens, allowing them to minimize danger, limit or prevent damage to the environment, and reduce the potential clean-up costs.

If you believe you have a leak–for example, you can smell fuel around the site or your fuel inventory is not matching up–you are required to take the component that is leaking or the system itself out of service. You must record the date the component or system was withdrawn from service, maintain any applicable cathodic protection and attach a label to the fuel system’s fill pipe that states it is out of service temporarily.

If you are able to isolate a leaking component and keep it isolated until you can have it replaced or repaired, you are allowed to continue operating the system. If you can’t, however, you are supposed to stop using the system. If your circumstances make it impossible for you to withdraw a fuel tank component or system from service immediately, Canada’s regulations state that you can take the steps below until you are able to take the system or component out of service or isolate the component:

•       Minimize any long-term or immediate harm to humans and the environment. This means you must do whatever you can to reduce how much of your leaking product is reaching the environment. If, for example, you have a leak part of the way up your tank, you could lower the tank’s volume so that the fill level is under the leak.
•       Notify Environment and Climate Change Canada in writing about your circumstances and what actions you are taking.

Emergency petroleum tank plans

Since fires, leaks, releases and other accidents can stem from a tank, you need to have an emergency plan in place to minimize, limit and prevent danger to people and damage to the environment under Canadian rules. Your plans must be adapted to your system’s surroundings and characteristics. In the plan, you have to detail the possible scenarios that could pose a hazard to the environment or people. You also must identify how you can prevent, respond to, prepare for, warn about and recover from those scenarios, which likely will include overfilled tanks, tank failures, fires and ruptured hoses or pipes.

If you are struggling to draft your emergency plan, we recommend that you reach out to a professional for help. Having a comprehensive plan in place is an essential part of preparation.