Chemical leaks present several major challenges for your facility. They can cause damage to storage systems, employees, and the environment. Repair and cleanup costs can be expensive, and the leaked chemical is wasted.
In extreme situations, the lack of a leak detection system can result in catastrophic events, like the chemical spill in the Elk River in West Virginia. In this article, we’ll look at leak detection systems for your chemical storage tanks.
Chemical Leaks Are Inevitable
If you’re storing corrosive chemicals, your chemical storage tank will eventually leak, given enough time. Our cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) tanks have a useful life three times as long as other storage tanks—but even XLPE tanks don’t last forever.
Leaks can occur for other reasons, as well. Three common causes include:
- A loose or leaking fitting
- A broken pipe
- An overfilled tank caused by problems with the pump mechanism upon filling by the tanker truck
Our double-wall containment system, called SAFE-Tank®, safely contains any leaks, but you need to know when a leak has occurred. Because the SAFE-Tank is completely enclosed, a leak detection sensor will immediately alert you to a chemical leak when it first occurs. You can then investigate the problem and contact our Field Service Department to have the problem assessed.
How Does Chemical Leak Detection Work?
Sensors are installed in the Poly Processing double-wall tank in one of two ways. They can be dropped down into the interstitial space between the primary and secondary tanks, or they can be installed in a fitting through the containment tank at the bottom.
The alarm alerts workers that liquid is escaping from the primary tank into the containment area. Depending on your preferences, you can use an audible alarm sound or a flashing light at the tank, or send the alert through a SCADA system into a control room.
By using a SAFE-Tank chemical storage tank, you’re ensuring that any chemical leak is detected by sensors, thus keeping containment intact. This means that your employees, your facility, and the environment are all still safe from harm and you can continue operations until a Field Service expert can address the issue. By not having to immediately shut down operations, you’re saving time and money for the plant and the employees.
Types of Leak Detection
In Poly Processing’s polyethylene SAFE-Tank, either an optical or ultrasonic leak detector can be used to detect leaks in the secondary containment tank. Both leak detection methods are equally effective.
With the optical leak detector, an infrared beam is calibrated to pinpoint the bottom surface of the secondary containment tank. If chemicals have leaked into the secondary containment an alarm is triggered.
With the ultrasonic leak detection, a sound beam is sent to the base of the secondary polyethylene containment tank. If the beam distance is shorter, it indicates a substance at the bottom of the tank, and an alarm is sent to the system.
Leak Detection for Your Storage Tanks
While not all municipalities and local codes require leak detection on chemical storage tanks, many customers choose to place these devices in their tanks for safety and productivity purposes. If you’re storing dangerous chemicals, you may be required to have leak detection. Make sure you know whether or not leak detection is needed.