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Complexities of Industrial Tank Cleaning

Cleaning industrial storage tanks involves much more than climbing into the tank and scrubbing its inner walls. This complicated job requires significant training.

Getting tanks cleaned might be a low priority for facility owners. However, storage tanks are a key part of the production-process and affect the profitability of a company.

We recommend getting your industrial storage tanks cleaned twice a year. Sludge and microbial activity can damage the tank and contaminate the liquid inside it, resulting in losses far greater than the cost of cleaning the tank in Utah.

A combination of factors such as the technology used, the liquid inside the tank, the tank's structure, meeting the standards required for kosher cleaning, etc., are complexities that must be addressed using different strategies and equipment.

The Complexities of Industrial Tank Cleaning

The complexities of tank cleaning vary depending on the industry and what the tank is being used for. They range from physical challenges to health hazards.

1. Oxygen deficiency
Cramped spaces contain low oxygen levels. In large and confined tanks, the level can be well below the recommended 19.5% by OSHA. Cleaning such tanks without breathing apparatus can be lethal. Federal and state agencies have implemented several regulations to prevent accidents caused by oxygen deficiency. Tank cleaning service providers in Utah must comply with all these regulations and take additional precautions to ensure the safety of people on the cleaning site.

2. Maintaining Kosher Status

The tanks used for storage and transportation of kosher foods must be kosher-certified. If the tank comes into contact with a non-kosher food item, it has to be kosher cleaned again. Kosher washing a tank is a multi-step process. Interior cleaning is done using a specific cleaning agent. A high water temperature must be maintained while rinsing the inside of the tank. The storage area also needs the blessings of a rabbi to be kosher- certified.

3. Chemical Hazards
Most industries – such as the chemical, plastic, and polymer industries, the oil industry, the consumer product industry, etc. - use storage tanks to store chemicals.

Tank cleaners must wear PPE kits and isolate the tank before cleaning. Chemical waste presents toxicity, flammability, corrosivity, or reactivity risks. Chemical hazards can be life-threatening. Tank cleaning companies have to keep first aid, showers, and eyewash stations at the ready.

4. Flammability
Fuel and flammable liquids produce vapours that can linger in the storage tank even after all liquid is extracted. A spark caused by static electricity or equipment can cause an explosion.

OSHA has issued several guidelines to prevent such a scenario. The guidelines include maintaining the level of combustible gases to below the 10% Lower Explosive Limit (LEL), securing piping, and placing drip pads at pumps, joints, drops, etc. Aggressive planning and pre-inspections should be conducted before any industrial tank cleaning in Utah.

Fuel and chemicals stored in fixed-roof tanks release vapours. When the liquid material is pumped out of the tank, emissions from the splashing liquid can contaminate the environment and require careful management.

5. Microbiological risk
Microbiological contamination can also contaminate the liquid inside the tank and decrease the quality of the final product manufactured at the facility. 

Tanks contaminated with microorganisms pose a threat of infection to the cleaner. The tank cleaning service must follow a protocol to protect the cleaners from risk and ensure that the tank is thoroughly cleaned. It's mandatory to sanitize the tanks to ensure that microorganisms don't make it into the company’s final products.

6. Following Guidelines
Following all guidelines issued by federal and state agencies can be a challenge for an inexperienced team. The actual cleaning of the storage tanks is only a small part of the overall process.

That process begins with planning, where the cleaners and site engineers collaborate to lay out the cleaning procedure and obtain kosher certification if required. Hazards are analysed and eliminated before the cleaning begins. Some confined spaces require a permit before someone can enter them. 

The full planning and cleaning process can take several days.

Reasons for Tank Cleaning Complexities

The inner walls of a storage tank are often fouled by sludge, scale deposits, and fungal and microbial growth.

1. Sludge
It's impossible to stop debris and suspended matter from entering tanks. These particles accumulate into sludge that contaminates the liquid stored in the tank, clogs pipework, corrodes heating systems, and blocks in-line filters.

2. Scale Formation
Scale formation on the walls of the tank makes it harder to detect structural damage to the tank. Undiscovered damage presents an additional hazard to the cleaning technician.

3. Microbial Growth
Bacterial and fungal spores can enter tanks through vents or during refilling. The presence of water and higher temperatures foster microbial growth. 

Microbial and fungal growth in industrial tanks can:

  • Reduce the combustion efficiency of the fuel
  • Clog filters
  • Contaminate the final product
  • Damage equipment in the tank

4. Structural Difficulties
Confined spaces present mental challenges to industrial tank cleaners. It's a job for people with high spatial awareness and those who can respond quickly to mishaps. Rapid escape during an emergency is difficult. An attendant must keep watch over the situation and alert the entrant in the event of a suspected accident. A reputable tank cleaning service provider always trains its staff to communicate frequently and clearly.

5. Knowledge of Kosher Law
Kosher cleaning services must study and follow all the practices as mandated by kosher law. Special cleaning agents must be used and a temperature of over 195 F maintained during rinsing.

The kosher status of the tanker can be compromised by:

  • Using recycled water
  • Not maintaining a high enough temperature
  • Not having the right equipment
  • Neglect and human error

Industrial Tank Cleaning Services for Maximum Efficiency

Keeping tanks clean will keep your facility running at full capacity and save your final products from contamination. 

Enviro Care has experience with tank cleaning in several industries. We can provide you with the expertise required to carry out tank cleaning safely and efficiently. Our team can help you:

  • Improve the efficiency of your processes
  • Monitor your tanks rate of deterioration
  • Clean and inspect storage tanks
  • Get kosher certification for tanks

Contact us today to discuss your tank cleaning needs.