The end for Tripod Tanks

Words by Don Joseph, Ruralco Fuel Sales Manager, Image supplied by Worksafe

After several accidents caused by the instability of tripod farm fuel tanks, the fuel distributor network will discontinue the supply of fuel to any tripod farm tank effective 1 May 2019.

In 1996 official approval was withdrawn for the manufacture of tripod tanks. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, tanks cannot be legally sold, reconditioned or relocated effective immediately. Reason being, due to the design, they are at risk of collapse. This can cause harm for people and environment. 

All above ground farm fuel tanks now, must meet design standards set out by the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996. Farmers must make sure their tank’s design and construction complies with HSNO design standards and the tripod fuel tank does not meet these standards. 

The intention at the time was farmers could use existing tanks until they reached the end of their working life, with the expectation they be removed from service at the appropriate time. Today, it is expected that most, if not all, tripod tanks will no longer be in use.

The reason for replacing the Tripod tanks to compliant above ground storage within New Zealand is for structural support. Farm fuel tank stand legs often bend, especially if hit by machinery. Any bending of the support legs decreases its strength and ability to support the tank, especially when the tank is full. Distorted support legs are a special hazard during refilling, because of  the different stresses exerted on the stand. Bends in legs or bracing suggest unequal loading on the legs.

It is important that above ground fuel storage tanks have their tank legs mounted on a concrete pad, or on concrete footings. The recommended minimum size for footings is 600 mm x 600 mm x 300 mm.

Alternatively, erect the tank stand on a solid, well-drained foundation, like compacted ground that will not become boggy when wet. It is important to brace all legs properly to support the structural integrity of the tank and to prevent the support stand distorting or collapsing.

If you are replacing tanks, it is also a perfect time to ensure the fuel quality is maintained, installing high quality filters will ensure this and prevent expensive damage to common rail engines for example. Ensure also you keep your tank free water by draining from sump plug. 

Ensuring that you plan for the correct fuel for summer and winter use (summer fuel may gel and cause engine problems if used at low temperatures) summer fuel has a higher level of wax whereas winter fuel would be fine year-round as it is low in wax.

Ruralco have looked at options available from several tank suppliers nationwide to enable ongoing compliant farm deliveries of tanks. Chat with the fuel team to organise compliant fuel storage for your business and advice on products to ensure you minimise fuel issues. For further information regarding these changes and options to ensure fuel supply please contact Ruralco Fuel here.

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