If you need to store large volumes of liquids, compressed gasses, or hazardous materials, you can opt for either an aboveground or underground storage tank. Both aboveground and underground storage tanks are considered bulk storage containers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines bulk storage containers as any container used to store oil that has a capacity of at least 55 gallons.
As its name suggests, an aboveground storage tank rests on top of the ground. Meanwhile, underground storage tanks are installed underground. Depending on what material they’re made of and what they’re going to store, underground tanks can be buried between 1.5 to 3 feet deep.
Apart from placement, there are other ways that aboveground and underground storage tanks differ. Here are four examples:
It is generally costlier to set up an underground storage tank than an aboveground one. This is because installing underground storage tanks requires specialized equipment, multiple permits, and extensive excavation work.
In contrast, assembling and installing an aboveground tank does not require as much in terms of construction work or equipment. The regulations surrounding aboveground tanks are also much less stringent.
Maintenance and repair
Both aboveground and underground tanks require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition and extend their life. However, maintenance is trickier with underground storage tanks because they’re not easy to access as aboveground tanks. Repairs are also more difficult to address, especially when they require digging up the tank.
Ease of leak detection
Underground storage tank leaks are difficult to detect manually, and it’s possible to leak without having a clue about it. Undetected leaks are potentially dangerous to both humans and the environment. Leaks are easier to pinpoint with aboveground tanks, allowing you to take quick action before the problem worsens.
Aboveground storage tanks require a large amount of space, and some people consider them unsightly. For this reason, they’re often placed on flat, empty spaces such as open fields. This has the added benefit of reducing the possibility of hazardous materials entering surface water in case of a leak.
An underground storage tank is hidden from sight underneath the earth. The area directly above can be utilized for other purposes.
Knowing the differences between aboveground and underground storage tanks will help you determine which type is best for your needs. For more information about liquid or gas bulk storage containers, contact KC Supply Co.