The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 13, 2014

Committee gets above-ground tank background info

By Pamela Pritt
Register-Herald Reporter

— The Joint Committee on Water Resources got some background on above-ground storage tank management from a local expert Wednesday.

Rich Ireland, who lives at Mink Shoals, north of Charleston, works for Rosemount

Tank Gauging, a company with business covering the eastern half of North America.

Ireland said his company uses several methods of leak and overfill detection for tanks, as well as in secondary containment areas.

Those are installed according to the risk level of the tank contents. Ireland said that his company generally deals with petroleum products.

“There’s liquids stored along the Kanawha River very responsibly all the time,” Ireland said.

He said the cost of such protection could be as little as $1,000 a month.

More expensive in-tank systems use radar and can cost up to $15,000, he said.

“Leak detection systems are normally put in the ground,” Ireland said.

He said the most risk occurs when products are exchanged from storage to transport.

Ireland did not state flatly that the Freedom Industries spill could have been avoided, but did say that if corrosion is the issue, then there are preventive measures that can be used, particularly interior tank coating.

“If I was a responsible tank owner, then I’d worry about what I had in a carbon steel tank,” he said.

Although the age of the leaky tank has been an issue, Ireland said he knows of several 70-year-old tanks that are in working order because of proper maintenance.

Ireland said he walks by the Freedom Industries where 10,000 gallons of a coal cleaning compound leaked from a storage tank last month and shut down water usage for some 300,000 state residents.

He often smelled licorice, the accompanying odor of MCHM, on those walks, he said.

Board of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Tierny returned to the committee to answer questions.

Most of those centered around the recently announced  in-home testing in the areas affected by the chemical spill.

Tierny said test samples would be sent to various labs.

“This needs to be a deliberate process so we do it right,” the doctor said. “This is not something we want to get wrong.”

— E-mail: ppritt@register-herald.com