American c-store owners just received another big reminder to regularly monitor underground storage tanks (USTs) containing diesel fuel. As if the threat of fuel tank corrosion from humbugs wasn’t enough, the EPA recently issued a new report highlighting how widespread of a problem the deterioration of metal components inside both steel and fiberglass underground storage tank systems can be.
After extensive testing, the EPA discovered that 83% of the USTs it studied showed signs of moderate-to-severe corrosion. While that stat is alarming, it turns out less than 25% of the owners of those USTs were aware they had a problem. As a response, the EPA is urging UST owners to check their tank systems for leaks and inspect their general conditions immediately.
The EPA’s report may have broader implications for c-store owners as well. The media publicity surrounding the report could catch the interest of local consumers, making them question whether or not your c-store is actively monitoring its USTs for corrosion. If that’s the case, your staff should have answers. Trust is paramount in any business relationship. Therefore, your customers need to have confidence in the safety of your business and the quality of product they are placing in their vehicle.
Perhaps the biggest corrosion concern for customers will be the risk of fuel escape, which can lead to water contamination, and involves a difficult, expensive, and lengthy cleanup process. While each leak varies as to its damaging effects, the EPA estimates that 539,000 underground storage tank leaks have been confirmed as of this year, while 457,000 contaminated sites have been cleaned up. In addition, major fines and state-level lawsuits for these types of incidents are not uncommon, all of which can have a huge negative impact on a c-store’s business.
For c-store owners with USTs, the EPA has many warning signs to detect a leak. Examples include the smell of escaped fuel in the air, an oily sheen on water near the facility, and neighbors complaining of vapors or tap water that tastes and smells like gas.
Complicating the UST corrosion problem for tank owners is the increased consumer demand for cleaner, lower emission fuels like Ethanol and Ultra-Low Sulfur diesel. Ethanol, for instance, attracts water, which can lead to corroded tanks. While these kinds of fuels are better for the environment, they’re also known to accelerate fuel tank corrosion, which leaves c-store owners with increased maintenance costs and issues.
Outside of the USTs themselves, corrosion can also impact various fuel dispenser parts and equipment critical to operation. This can cause irreversible damage to your dispensers, pushing them to malfunction and fail. Meters, for instance, can be susceptible to corrosion and that’s why it’s so important to keep them in the best condition possible.
A smart way to demonstrate to your customers that your c-store is doing all it can to prevent corrosion failures is by investing in newer, stronger, more durable equipment. For example, c-store owners should give Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s HD Meter a look, as it has a much stronger resistance to corrosion from abrasive fuels than ordinary meters.
The HD Meter was designed to deliver consistent fuel flow for c-stores and boost your dispenser’s lifespan, reducing the overall frequency of maintenance better than any other piston meter on the market. Its reinforced surfaces double the HD Meter’s lifespan while cutting down on the amount of calibrations needed for the dispenser by half. Beyond that, the HD meter also provides more accurate dispensing and reduces drift by 50%, saving valuable resources in the process.
The HD Meter is already currently up and running at hundreds of c-stores nationwide, and it’s worth considering how it could help benefit and protect your business.