A Versatile Solution for Multiple Decommissioning Needs

Last month we received an inquiry from a company asking us to decommission an old abandoned underground fuel storage tank at one of their commercial properties.

After scheduling a site visit to inspect the tank, we realised that foam filling would be the ideal solution rather than costly removal. And then, upon surveying the broader property, we uncovered even more ways that environmentally-responsible foam filling could help the client.

So my colleague Scott and I arrived at the industrial facility to evaluate the client’s 50-year-old, 10,000 litre steel heating oil tank that had been unused since they converted to natural gas over a decade prior.

We discovered the tank was located under the rear parking lot approximately 3 meters below grade. While the tank itself was in reasonable shape, the major obstacle was its positioning directly beneath multiple large concrete columns that supported the building foundation.

Foam Filling

We explained to the client that removing the tank would require careful demolition of the structural supports above it and estimated removal could cost over £50,000 when factoring in the engineering, permitting, excavation, and disruption to operations. When asked if any more affordable options existed, we suggested foam filling could inert the tank for a fraction of the removal cost.

The manager was intrigued by foam filling as an innovative solution, but had some understandable concerns. We addressed his questions about safety, contaminant encapsulation, future removability, and overall cost. With his concerns put at ease, he agreed that foam filling was the optimal approach.

After settling on a plan for the abandoned fuel tank, the manager asked if we could evaluate any other decommissioning needs while on site so we surveyed the rest of the property to find additional opportunities to use responsible foam filling. And there were several.

In inspecting the grounds, we identified an extensive run of old concrete drainage pipes that crisscrossed under the parking area and loading docks.

The manager explained these pipes drained the washing facility where they cleaned their ready-mix concrete trucks after delivery. Unfortunately, the drain pipes were severely cracked in multiple places, causing contaminated runoff to seep into the soil.

We proposed foam filling the damaged pipes to seal the cracks and permanently decommission the broken drainage system. Since we already planned to be on site foam filling the fuel tank, we could easily fill the pipes at the same time through existing manholes.foam filling

By addressing their pipe decommissioning and concrete washout needs at the same time, we provided an integrated foam fill solution that maximized efficiency and cost savings.

The final opportunity we discovered was addressing their concrete washout needs. We noticed they had a large open pit where trucks would wash out leftover concrete. The manager explained that they were required to dispose of the washout slurry offsite, which was cumbersome and expensive.

Here too, we suggested a foam fill solution. We could pump lightweight foamed concrete into the washout pit, encapsulating the slurry and creating an inert solid fill. The foam concrete could then be left permanently in place, avoiding costly waste disposal.

The manager was very happy we were able to identify multiple ways to apply foam solutions across their site. By tackling the fuel tank decommissioning, pipe filling, and concrete washout in one coordinated project, we anticipated over 60% in cost savings compared to separate contracts.

On the scheduled date, our crew arrived with the specialized foam injection equipment and began setting up. We started by foam filling the 10,000 liter fuel tank, watching through the ports as the polyurethane resin expanded to completely fill the void space. We then moved on to the drainage pipes, sealing multiple cracks and filling entire damaged sections. Finally, we pumped the foamed concrete into the washout pit, leaving it filled with a lightweight solid mass.

We were therefore able to inert three major areas of concern across the client’s property. The manager was amazed at how versatile the foam solutions were and especially as our innovative use of foam for fuel tank filling, pipe abandonment and decommissioning as well as concrete washouts and bund gaps between the floor and the ground. All of which highlighted the diverse applicability of this technology, its cost-effectiveness and environmental responsibility.

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