During the recent flooding that affected Quebec’s coastal area, more than 3,000 residences were flooded as well as businesses, including gas stations.
One victim has been a Super Gas service station that we can see here completely flooded. The gas brand and its related Arrêt-Pause convenience store banner are operated by Vancouver-based Super Save Group.
Now we can all figure out the damage to a residence or business when it is flooded, but what about a gas station?
Given the presence of fuel tanks and electric pumps, is it rendered inoperable? Well, it all depends, but not necessarily.
The worst risk is buoyancy, that is if reservoirs are empty or half-empty and then end up under water, they will rise to the surface under tremendous forces. It is therefore recommended to fill them to the maximum before flooding arises.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the damage caused by water to a gas station can be indeed very serious:
- As we mentioned, during a flood, an underground storage tank (UST) is subjected to buoyant forces that could offset the restraint of backfill, pavement, or hold-down straps, causing the tank to shift in the backfill from its location.
- Forces of rapidly moving water can cause soil erosion or scour;
- Exposing the system to stressors from flood water pressure or floating debris makes it even more vulnerable to being undermined or collapse;
- Underground piping could have shifted and become detached, releasing product into the environment;
- Water or other debris could have entered a reservoir through openings such as fill pipes, vent pipes, gaskets, loose fittings, covers, sumps, and damaged tank walls;
- Finally, extended contact with floodwaters may cause damage to electrical equipment associated with UST systems
What operators should do once the water is removed:
- Make sure the power is off;
- Determine if oil has escaped into the environment;
- Determine whether water or debris has entered the tank system;
- Return power after inspection;
- Check release detection system;
- Check all equipment: pumps, valves, pipes and vents;
- Clean and empty spill bucket and sumps;
- Perform a system tightness test;
- Test spill bucket and sumps;
- Test cathodic protection.
Depending on the extent of the damage, it may be possible to restart the UST very quickly but also to have to replace the whole tank system at enormous costs!
So to our friends at Super Gaz, good luck and courage to get out of this mess and we wish you the best!