Keeping Delivery Spill Buckets Compliant
Written by: Brian Pottebaum, Director of Training Services
As part of our inspection process, we find that over 60% of all sites are not in compliance with spill containment requirements. If a spill containment, also referred to as a spill bucket, is completely full of water or fuel, there is no room for additional spilled fuel to be contained. Spill buckets MUST be kept clean and empty. Many releases occur when fuel is delivered. It is critical that owners and operators take the necessary steps to minimize these releases. Proper maintenance of spill buckets is another tool for preventing those costly UST leaks!
Spill buckets come in several different sizes and configurations. However, all of them are required to accommodate any spilled product during a delivery. The minimum allowable spill containment size is 5 gallons for each tank fill pipe. If your spill bucket is holding liquid, like rainwater run-off, or is compromised so that it will not hold a minimum of 5 gallons, it is not satisfying the spill containment requirements mandated by federal regulations. Frequent inspections of your spill buckets and routine maintenance are essential to operate with best management practices. New federal regulations also require spill buckets to be inspected and cleaned out every 30 days.
When inspecting a spill bucket, it is important to have it completely cleaned out. Most of the damage occurs at the bottom of the bucket. Damage includes cracks, holes, and missing or loose seals. When the ground shifts around the tank, there can be stress applied directly to the spill bucket, and in many cases the bucket is damaged. In some cases, the spill bucket itself may not be damaged, but it no longer seals tight against the fill pipe. Damage may also occur on the sidewalls of the spill bucket.
Winter is extremely hard on spill buckets, especially the grade-level designs. They are constantly getting hit by shovels and snowplows. Not only does this damage lids, it can destroy the entire spill bucket. These areas need to be protected and cleared with caution. It is never a good idea to “chip” ice out of the bucket, but you may have to so fuel can be delivered to the tank. One more reason to keep your spill buckets clean!
If you have a spill bucket that is always dry, but the other buckets in the area contain liquid every now-and-then, it is possible that it has a leak. That spill bucket should be thoroughly inspected. If a spill bucket never has liquid in it, it is because all the liquid is leaking out!
Spill buckets are only effective if they are maintained properly. When the container is full, it can’t continue to do its job. Spill buckets can be very effective in preventing environmental contamination; however, it is your job to maintain them properly. Spill buckets should be inspected and emptied before and after every fuel delivery, but no less than every 30 days.