U.S. Navy's Fleet Industrial Supply Center (FISC) in Jacksonville, Fla.,
avoided an operational shutdown through use of a technology that allowed
the in-service inspection of the center's three jet fuel tanks. Costs for
emptying, degassing and cleaning the tanks also were avoided, as were the
associated worker exposure hazards.
regulations specify that aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) are to be inspected
according to the American Petroleum Institute's 653 Standard for ongoing
inspection intervals, and the center's three 120-foot-diameter, 97,000-barrel
jet fuel ASTs were no exception. However, emptying the tanks for a conventional
inspection would have impacted U.S. Navy operations for at least two months.
Wilson, an environmental compliance manager with Endress + Hauser Systems
and Gauging of Norcross, Ga., knew non-compliance was not an option for
his U.S. Navy client. Searching on the Internet, he found Solex Robotics
Systems, Houston, Texas, developers of the Maverick robotic tank inspection
technology. Because the Maverick system is certified for working in Class
I, Division 1, Group D environments, or areas with potentially explosive
vaporous hydrocarbons, Wilson decided to hire Solex to provide an in-service
genesis of the Maverick was the "crawler," a tank inspection technology
developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Idaho National Engineering
and Environmental Laboratory. Originally designed to provide remote inspection
of storage tanks containing radioactive waste, the technology was modified
to meet critical applications in the petrochemical industry.
Maverick system was submerged in each of the FISC tanks. "Walking" along
the floor of each tank, the system used sensors and video to perform an
inspection. Readings were taken for ultrasonic thickness. Inspection of
all three tanks was completed in less than two weeks, without significantly
impacting client operations.
President and CEO Don Hartsell says the cost, environmental impact and
energy expended to drain a tank can be high. "Maverick offers an environmentally
friendly solution to tank inspections that can save tank operators from
$50,000 to as much as $500,000 per tank," says Hartsell. "It is the only
commercially accepted technology that is certified to safely inspect in-service
aboveground storage tanks containing volatile or potentially explosive
on calculations developed for DOE, the three inspections prevented the
release of more than 3100 tons of carbon dioxide and volatile organic compound
emissions. The process saved more than 43 billion Btu that would have been
lost or expended to complete a conventional manual inspection.
says the project demonstrated the technology's capabilities in an aboveground
tank environment. "It did what it was supposed to do without [adversely]
impacting the client's operations," he said.