Preventing Fuel Spill by Coordinating Off-Hours Emergency Operations

November 14, 2019

Overview

When an emergency arises, you need a service team that can be counted on to remedy the situation quickly, regardless of when it happens. And because of the environmental and safety concerns that surround petroleum fuel operations, it is critical that your service provider has clear protocols for emergency response escalation and clear lines of communication internally to prevent bad situations from becoming catastrophic.

In this case, McCon responded to an off-hours construction mishap, coordinating an emergency management operation on the fly that helped save a convenience store from a potentially costly fuel spill.

Key Competencies:

  • Ability to solve emerging problems as they develop
  • Clear processes for escalating emergency situations internally
  • Capacity to respond outside business hours with on-call rapid response team

Problem

A global convenience store brand was preparing for a yearly walk-through by executive leadership at one of their Texas locations. As part of the preparation, crews were performing an extensive makeover and remodel of the site, including pouring concrete for a new forecourt and parking lot surface. This included the area above the underground storage tanks (USTs).

In the course of pouring the concrete on the area above the underground storage tanks (USTs), a riser on one of the submersible turbine pumps was inadvertently bent and the tank was damaged. The accident was later discovered when it started raining and the tank began taking on water.

A crew member on site submitted a high-priority service ticket to McCon. A service technician arrived quickly, assessed the situation, and recognized that immediate action needed to be taken to avert a disaster. Because it was raining heavily, the tank was taking on water quickly and would soon overflow — raising the possibility of a serious fuel spill that could result in significant environmental damage.

There were multiple factors compounding the problem: it was outside normal business hours (Saturday); it was raining heavily, which not only made the potential spill more imminent, but also threatened to slow the arrival of response teams; and finally, fully resolving the problem would require emptying the tank and breaking up the concrete in order to make repairs, which couldn’t be accomplished until the rain stopped.

Solution

The service technician who responded to the initial service ticket immediately escalated the issue to the Operations Supervisor, who arrived at the site and developed an emergency action plan.

Service and construction teams were called in to provide round-the-clock supervision in order to prevent overflowing. Without this constant attention, the tank would have overflowed within a matter of hours. Crews remained at the site throughout the weekend monitoring the tank and waiting for the rain to cease. Meanwhile, a fuel pump truck made several trips to the site in order to empty as much fuel and water from the tank as possible.

On Monday, the rain finally stopped and the construction team was able to break up the newly laid concrete, gain full access to the damaged tank, and commence repairs.

Outcome

Once the rain stopped, crews purged the system, replaced the ATG, and completed the repairs within five days. McCon’s fast response and emergency management efforts helped to avoid a fuel spill and prevent environmental damage, sparing the company the expense and ongoing hassle of environmental remediation.

Had a spill occurred, further costly steps would have been required (such as the construction of an observation well), and the site would have been subject to close scrutiny by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which carries a whole host of potentially negative consequences.

Ultimately, the downtime for fuel sales was limited to a few days instead of weeks, the site was fully operational within seven days from the initial service call, and the site remodel was completed in time for the executive tour to proceed as planned.