Long road ahead for North Sea decomissioning

Those who are about to embark on decommissioning a fuel tank on land might spare a thought for the decommissioning process underway in the North Sea. This is one of the major remediation challenges of the next decade, as pipelines, wells, drilling platforms and pieces of infrastructure have to be dismantled and taken back on shore for recycling or disposal.

North Sea decomissioning

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Similar planning and tracking for tanks on dry land

Many of the planning and tracking systems being put in place to manage the work in the North Sea are also applicable to onshore decommissioning. The process begins with research and analysis to find out what the possible contamination risks are, and what is involved in the work. That’s followed by a detailed planning stage with engineering reviews being carried out and plans being submitted to the relevant government department.

Once the equipment is ready for decommissioning, any lubricants and fuels have to be drained out and moved onshore, where they can either be reused or disposed of under approved conditions.

Underground tanks pose logistical challenges

On land, the fuel tank decommissioning challenge may not be so extreme, but if the tank is underground, there is still a considerable amount of planning involved in order to get it out without causing land contamination. These projects are becoming more frequent because businesses are beginning to find alternatives to diesel oil, petrol and other fuels.

North Sea decomissioning

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Removing a fuel tank from the basement of a building, for example, requires expert remediation planning http://www.ashremediation.co.uk and needs to be carried out by engineers and operators who are trained in working in confined spaces, where fumes may build up. Companies have a duty of care when transferring waste that may be hazardous, and have to register online with the environment agency – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/duty-of-care-waste-transfer-note-template. The tank also needs to be certified as “gas-free” before operators can work on cleaning it out or dismantling it.

Getting a tank out of a confined space, especially if there are other buildings close by can also present major logistical problems. It’s often decided to lift the tank out in one piece, using a crane, rather than trying to dismantle it. However, for this to be done safely the tank has to be inspected and confirmed as being sound enough to be lifted without disintegrating.

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