One of the constants in the petroleum equipment industry is corrosion. THe problem continues to cost the industry billions of dollars each year. When I talk with tank owners, they think that corrosion is a result of moisture. Although that is a contributing factor, the real culprit is microbial contamination.
All fuel has some level of contamination. If left uncheck and unmanaged, the fuel will continue to degrade at an alarming rate. Microbial influenced corrosion or MIC results in damage of varying degrees. As microbes reproduce in the fuel, their waste by-products continue to disperse throughout the fuel system. The waste is likely acidic. Acidic sludge and slime will accumulate at the bottom of the tank. This acidic layer, its dispersants and off-gassing vapor cause damage.
Fact – acid on metal equals corrosion. Over time, if left unattended, the microbial growth within the fuel system will result in accelerated corrosion. The corrosion will be evident inside the tank and outside the tank on the fuel system components. STP components in the sumps, tank risers and dispenser parts are all affected. Eventually a catastrophic event could occur resulting in a release of fuel into the ground. At the very least, higher maintenance costs to equipment will result both for the fuel system owner and the equipment the fuel is being pumped into.
What can be done? First, take regular bottom samples. Be proactive rather than reactive. This will save you both time and potential liability. Start managing your fuel and saving money.