How Are Tanks Decommissioned, Removed and Recycled?


An increasing number of tank owners who have been storing oil or petrol are now switching to different fuels and find that they no longer need the tank.

That leaves the problem of how to drain, dismantle and dispose of the tank.

There are a lot of regulations surrounding this process, including health and safety law. In addition, various notices have to be issued.

For these reasons, the majority of owners use tank decommissioning services. Tank Decommissioning services involve looking after the entire job and ensuring it is carried out in compliance with the requirements. Let’s look at what’s involved.

Surveying the Site

Tanks are sited in many different locations. Some are above ground; others are below ground. Some can easily be accessed by a lorry; others are located in hard-to-reach areas. A surveyor from the decommissioning company will come and assess the job and make recommendations to you on the best way to approach the project. The survey will also allow the firm to provide you with an estimate or quotation of the cost.

Lifting the Tank out Whole

This is the simplest method of tank removal. The tank is emptied, without any pollution being caused, in accordance with government regulations. Any fuel remaining in tank is transferred to a recycling centre, and the appropriate documentation is completed. Any gas in the tank is removed or dispersed and a “gas-free” certificate is issued. The whole tank is lifted by crane on to a transporter. It can then be moved to a recycling facility to be dismantled.

More Complex Decommissioning Jobs

If it’s not possible to lift the tank in and out in this way, it has to be cut up on site. This involves the operators working in a confined space, and special precautions have to be taken – a tank decommissioning service will have engineers who are trained in working safely in these conditions.

The service will supply the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the operators and use special tools to dismantle the tank safely and efficiently.

Emptying, dismantling, moving and recycling a tank are processes that are closely controlled by the Environment Agency. It makes sense to use a service company that specialises both in the physical work and in the necessary documentation.


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