JEP  Vol.7 No.3 , February 2016
Resolution of Suspected Tank Release of Diesel Fuel Using Diagnostic Compounds and Biomarkers
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During a routine inspection in a petroleum product terminal, hydrocarbon staining was found in soil along the perimeter of a diesel fuel tank. As the observation was made a few days after a magnitude 5.1 earthquake in the general area of the terminal, the hydrocarbon staining in the soil was suspected to be a result of a leak from the tank. The observation triggered an immediate tank inspection, which included examination of tank exterior, piping and connections; pressure testing; wall thickness gauging; and an inventory check. Results of the initial inspection suggested that there were no integrity issues with the tank. Before more vigorous and more disruptive inspections were conducted, chemical fingerprinting was conducted to assess the nature of soil staining and potential connection with the “suspected” tank leak. Samples were collected from the site, including a diesel fuel sample from the tank, a light non-aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) sample from the monitoring well in the immediate vicinity, and representative soil samples from the perimeter of, and beneath, the tank. A tiered laboratory analytical approach was taken, which included initial gas chromatography-flame ionization detector carbon chain analysis and final gas chromatography-mass spectrometry or detailed fingerprint analyses. Based on the results of initial inspection, knowledge of LNAPL mobility in response to earthquake seismic waves, and chemical fingerprints of representative samples, it was determined that the soil staining was not a result of suspected tank release but remobilization of hydrocarbons from the historically impacted soil beneath the tank to the soil along the perimeter of the tank.

Cite this paper: Lu, J. and Kowalewski, D. (2016) Resolution of Suspected Tank Release of Diesel Fuel Using Diagnostic Compounds and Biomarkers. Journal of Environmental Protection, 7, 473-480. doi: 10.4236/jep.2016.73041.

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