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Diesel Fuel Storage Regulations

How much do yo knowabout diesel fuel storage regulations?
How much do yo knowabout diesel fuel storage regulations?
Mauricio Simonetti/Getty Images

If you plan on keeping diesel fuel on your property for personal reasons (as opposed to commercial), you’d do well to brush up on both state and federal regulations before moving ahead. Fuel leaking or evaporating from a tank, whether above ground or below, can do major environmental damage, and can be punished with large fines. Or course, diesel is flammable, and so extra caution is required when storing it in large quantities.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the National Fire Prevention Agency, state agencies and even the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration all have specific guidelines and rules to follow, and it can be a bit difficult keeping everything straight, safe and legal.

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The EPA requires that you notify federal, state and local authorities of any tank that holds more than 1,100 gallons of fuel. The key potential problem with an underground tank is leakage, so it’s a good idea to check at least monthly the groundwater in the area. The tank cannot be kept anywhere where fumes might accumulate.

Specific regulations vary state by state; the EPA provides relevant rules and contact information for wherever you live.

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For tanks above ground, the main danger is explosion, and the rules are a bit more specific. They also must be registered with the proper authorities. They must be located at least 40 feet away from any buildings and have no combustible materials anywhere nearby. Tanks should have stickers that read “FLAMMABLE–KEEP FIRE AND FLAME AWAY.”

To prevent evaporation of the diesel and its escape into the atmosphere, tanks should be oriented in an east-west direction and be painted white, so they’re hit by and absorb minimal heat from the sun. Check regularly for corrosion and the leaks that may result, and be sure to report any problems to the state and federal environmental departments.

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Most importantly, if you’re installing a diesel storage tank, double and triple check the rules. Breaking them comes with a heavy punishment, and for good reason. A poorly installed or maintained tank can result in the contamination of millions of people’s drinking water, and it doesn’t take much imagination to picture the damage that can be wrought by an enormous exploding in your backyard.

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