How Much Money Can You Save by Keeping Water Out of Your Sumps?
By Ed Kammerer
So, unfortunately, is the mindset among many fuel retailers that there isn’t very much they can do about it, or that the equipment they have been using for many years to protect their underground containment systems is up to the task.
In reality, most fuel retailers are relying on 10 to 15-year-old containment technologies that were poorly designed to prevent the migration of surface and subsurface water (from either rain or melting ice and snow) into the enclosures of underground tank and dispenser sumps. This has made leaking sumps not uncommon and one of the biggest recurring issues among Canadian fuel retailers, with real-world examples of some spending as much as $50,000 to $100,000 a month just on sump pump outs.
The truly frustrating thing is that there is a readily available solution to what has become a widespread problem.
A Watertight Solution
OPW Retail Fueling, Smithfield, NC, has created a complete portfolio of tank and dispenser sumps, covers, spill containers and multi-ports for use in retail-fueling locations where water intrusion is a constant concern. Dubbed Watertight Wonders, these components have been specifically designed to prevent the ingress of unwanted water into sumps, which could eventually lead to fouled fuel. And with the increased levels of ethanol – which does not play well with water – that are now common in gasoline, preventing any level of water intrusion is more important than ever.
One of the most noteworthy innovations in this area is the new ElectroTite No-Drill Tank Sump, which is the retail-fueling industry’s first tank sump to feature factory-installed conduit ports and electrical wiring box. This allows the sump to be installed as-is at the fueling site, with no drilling required. This mitigates the risk that unintended leak points will be created in the system during the drilling of holes for the placement of entry fittings or that leaking conduit lines will allow water to migrate back into the sump.
Other features and benefits of the ElectroTite sumps include:
- A vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding (RTM) manufacturing process that guarantees consistent thickness of sump walls, a smooth finish on both inner and outer wall surfaces and watertight, leak-free operation
- Sealed conduit threads on the outside of the sump, which allows entry above the water table
- A UL-listed, single-piece cast aluminum explosion-proof junction box with bolt-on access cover that creates space to re-route communication wires and insert additional sensors without needing to enter the sump
- A shield that enables high-voltage and sensor wires to be separated in the same junction box
- Availability in a wide range of shapes and sizes to accommodate virtually any tank-sump application
In addition to the ElectroTite tank sump, OPW offers the following components in its Watertight Wonders product line:
- FiberTite Tank Sumps: Function as a liquid-tight isolation container that provides secondary containment for tank and pipe fittings, valves and pumps. Manufactured via the state-of-the-art RTM process that creates ultra-smooth wall surfaces inside and out for ultra-tight waterproof sealing capability. An inverted U-channel distributes the resin equally, which creates a superior bond between the sump’s base and top hat to greatly restrict water intrusion. Outfitted with a stainless-steel ring and watertight sealing gasket for additional water-intrusion-prevention capability.
- FlexWorks Loop System Low-Profile Dispenser Sump: A completely integrated, environmentally secure underground fuel-delivery system that employs pre-fabricated, factory-assembled components that ensure watertight operation while also eliminating most operator errors that can occur during installation. The shallow bury loop design keeps all entry penetrations above the water table. Factory-installed dual-sided, rigid entry fittings (REF) provide double protection by sealing the pipe inside and outside the sump, which prevents the intrusion of groundwater, rain and melting ice or snow and keeps all of the fluid that is collected in the sump from entering the access pipe. Construction featuring a rigid composite material eliminates entry-fitting degradation that can result in water intrusion.
- FiberTite Composite Multiports: Lightweight fiberglass construction resists corrosion and reduces handling strain while improving safety for the operator. Installs over the top of tank sumps in order to provide spill containment for fill pipes and vapor-recovery risers, while also allowing easy access to the tank top.
- EDGE Double-Wall Sealable Cover Spill Container: Features an integral plumber’s plug and unique double-wall sealable design that prevent water and debris from penetrating the spill container at the surface and entering the tank sump. Also limits corrosion and damage to the fill and vapor-return riser connections and components.
- Fiberlite Composite Manhole Covers: Designed to be lightweight and durable, the covers feature a non-bolted design with a flat gasket that creates a watertight seal. Ideal for use in general tank-sump access, multiport, single-port fill sump and interstitial-sump applications.
Whether outfitting sites with the complete suite of OPW Watertight Wonder products, or just selecting a few, fuel retailers who incorporate these components into their fuel-storage and dispensing systems will optimize the chances that their tank and dispenser sumps will not incur damaging levels of water intrusion. By extension, this will result in reduced maintenance, repair and replacement costs that are associated with the storage and dispensing of fuel that has been compromised by excessive water levels.
Depending on the source, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain are among the people who have been credited with coining the phrase “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” While it’s highly likely that none of them were the actual originators of that quote, it’s meaning is profound. For too many years, too many Canadian fuel retailers have been relying on substandard equipment to prevent the intrusion of water into their tank and dispenser sumps, with often harmful results in the form of fouled fuel, damaged equipment and exorbitant pump-out fees. These retailers would be wise to consider the latest advances in watertight tank- and dispenser-sump equipment and systems, with the results being a safer, more efficient and more cost-effective fueling operation.