AST Environmental & Safety Concerns

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Above ground storage tanks (ASTs) play a vital role in various industries, providing an efficient means of storing large volumes of liquids such as water, chemicals, and petroleum products. However, the operation and maintenance of ASTs can present significant environmental and safety concerns if not carefully managed and monitored. Leaks, spills, and tank failures can lead to soil and water contamination, air pollution, and potential threats to public health and local ecosystems. To mitigate these risks and adhere to regulatory requirements, businesses using ASTs must remain diligent in implementing and following best practices for the safe and responsible operation of their storage facilities.

In this comprehensive and insightful blog, we will delve into the environmental impacts and safety hazards associated with ASTs, as well as explore the key regulatory requirements and industry best practices for their operation and maintenance. We will also address the importance of regular inspections, maintenance, and repairs in preventing leaks, spills, and tank failures, thereby safeguarding the environment and public health.

Additionally, we will discuss how ATM Tanks, a trusted provider of tank design, installation, repairs, and maintenance for above ground tanks across Australia and the Pacific, can support businesses in ensuring the highest safety and environmental standards when operating their ASTs. With their extensive expertise in tank maintenance and inspection programs, ATM Tanks can help you proactively identify potential issues, address them accordingly, and maintain a safe and compliant storage facility.

Understanding the Environmental Impacts of AST Leaks and Spills

Leaking or poorly maintained above ground storage tanks can have severe environmental consequences. Soil and groundwater contamination from petroleum products, chemicals, or hazardous waste can result in long-lasting damage to ecosystems, affecting plants, wildlife, and the quality of nearby water sources. Air pollution can also result from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being released from leaking tanks, contributing to the formation of smog and posing health risks for local residents.

Moreover, the financial costs of addressing and remediating environmental damage can be significant, with businesses potentially facing fines, penalties, and cleanup expenses. As such, understanding the potential environmental impacts of AST leaks and spills is essential in implementing effective measures to prevent them.

Regulatory Requirements and Industry Best Practices for AST Safety

To mitigate the aforementioned environmental and safety risks, various regulatory bodies in Australia enforce stringent guidelines and requirements for the operation and maintenance of ASTs. Compliance with these regulations is vital for businesses to ensure the safety of their facilities, employees, and surrounding communities, and to avoid potential legal ramifications.

Key regulatory requirements for ASTs include:

1. Regular Inspection and Monitoring: Routine inspections of the tank structure, external coating, and secondary containment systems are necessary to identify potential issues, such as corrosion, deterioration, or damage, that may lead to leaks or spills.

2. Leak Detection Systems: Installing and maintaining leak detection systems according to regulatory standards can help businesses quickly identify and address any leaks, minimising the potential environmental impact and safety risks.

3. Spill Prevention and Countermeasure Plans: Developing and implementing spill prevention and countermeasure plans, as well as training employees in proper handling and emergency response procedures, is crucial in minimising the potential damages from leaks and spills.

4. Record Keeping and Reporting: Accurate record keeping and prompt reporting of any leaks or spills to relevant authorities is essential for regulatory compliance and effective environmental management.

The Role of Maintenance, Repairs, and Inspections in Ensuring AST Safety

Regular inspection and maintenance of ASTs are critical in preventing environmental and safety hazards. Timely detection and repair of issues such as leaks, corrosion, and structural damage can significantly reduce the risk of catastrophic tank failures and their associated impacts. By ensuring that their ASTs are maintained in accordance with regulatory requirements and industry best practices, businesses can proactively mitigate potential risks and maintain a safe and compliant storage facility.

Key aspects of a comprehensive AST maintenance program include:

1. Visual inspections: Regular visual inspections of the tank’s exterior and its surroundings can help identify signs of corrosion, leaks, or damage early, allowing for prompt corrective actions.

2. Non-destructive testing: Techniques such as ultrasonic testing and radiographic testing can be used to assess the tank’s structural integrity and identify any defects or weaknesses.

3. Integrity assessments: Periodic integrity assessments can help determine the remaining useful life of a tank and inform decisions on whether repairs or upgrades are necessary.

4. Preventative maintenance: Scheduled cleaning, painting, and repair work can help prevent the deterioration of the tank’s structure and prolong its lifespan.

Partnering with ATM Tanks for Safe and Compliant AST Solutions

ATM Tanks is a leading provider of tank design, installation, repairs, and maintenance for above ground tanks across Australia and the Pacific. With their extensive experience and expertise, ATM Tanks can support businesses in maintaining safe and compliant ASTs, reducing the risk of environmental and safety incidents.

Partnering with ATM Tanks offers:

1. Expert guidance: ATM Tanks can help businesses navigate the complex landscape of regulatory requirements, providing invaluable insights and support in implementing best practices for AST safety and maintenance.

2. Customised maintenance plans: ATM Tanks can develop tailored inspection and maintenance programs, ensuring that your ASTs receive the necessary care and attention to maintain their safety and integrity.

3. Prompt response and repairs: With a dedicated team of specialists, ATM Tanks can quickly address any leaks, damage, or other issues identified during routine inspections, minimising potential risks to the environment and people.


The environmental and safety concerns associated with above ground storage tanks are fundamental issues for businesses that rely on these storage solutions. By understanding the potential impacts of leaks, spills, and tank failures, and adhering to regulatory requirements and industry best practices, businesses can effectively mitigate these risks and ensure the safe operation of their ASTs. 

Partnering with ATM Tanks provides access to expert support and reliable maintenance services, allowing businesses to focus on their core operations while maintaining a safe and compliant storage facility. Get in touch with us to find out more about our tank maintenance services!

Aaron James
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About The Author

Aaron James
Aaron has been working at ATM Tanks for the past 5 years. He has completed a wide range of projects across Australia including new tank builds, cleaning and servicing existing tanks and countless tank inspections. However he has excelled recently at project management for ATM Tanks.

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