State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008IN241B
Title: Poly Tanks on Farms and Businesses: Preventing Catastrophic Failures
Project Type: Information Transfer
Start Date: 3/01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2009
Congressional District: 4th
Focus Categories: Agriculture, Groundwater, Law, Institutions, and Policy
Keywords: Poly tanks, transportation, spills, pollution, contamination, pesticides, fertilizer, water quality, storage
Principal Investigator: Whitford, Fred
Federal Funds: $ 10,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 65,116
Abstract: This publication will explain how to evaluate tank designs, provide management strategies that can extend the tank's longevity, offer inspection techniques to pinpoint tanks needing replaced, and offer disposal options for out-of-service tanks.

Tanks constructed from plastic are commonly used on farms and commercial application businesses. These plastic tanks help to more efficiently manage the storage and transportation of water and a host of other liquids such as pesticide and fertilizer products. While the attributes of poly tanks are many, their use has a potentially serious drawback - at some point in time, they will fail.

Poly tanks have a limited shelf-life, lasting longer when properly cared for; conversely, they degrade quicker when they are misused, neglected, or pushed beyond their design specifications. The challenge is to replace the tank before it ruptures; the hard part is knowing when to do this or assessing the risk of failure. Trying to get one more year out of an "old" tank can be a serious economic and environmental (e.g., water pollution) mistake when it's structural integrity is pushed beyond its design capability.

No one likes spending money replacing a tank that might still have a "few" years left in it. Realistically, there have been many instances where a poly tank that needed replacing was still being used when - for no apparent reason - the side walls give way, spilling its contents onto land and into water. Not only is the value of the spilled material written off as a complete loss, but the cost of cleaning up the spill can exceed the actual value of the product by thousands of dollars. In some cases, regulatory costs for restoring the environment (e.g., replacing fish) can be added to the total bill of an accidental release.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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