About the Author: Ed Kammerer is the Director of Global Product Management for OPW, based in Cincinnati, OH, USA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. OPW is leading the way in fueling solutions and innovations worldwide. OPW delivers product excellence and the most comprehensive line of fueling equipment and services to retail and commercial fueling operations around the globe. For more information on OPW, please visit OPWGlobal.com.
OPW’s Watertight Wonder, the ElectroTite Tank Sump
Tank sumps are critical components in the fueling systems at retail and commercial fueling sites in their role as isolation chambers that provide secondary containment for tank fittings, valves and submersible pumps, along with easy access to the storage tank itself for service and maintenance. Since the creation of underground fuel-storage systems, however, fuel-site operators have waged a constant battle against water intrusion into their tank sumps.
This is a major concern as water that enters a tank sump can trip alarms, cause microbial growth, induce rusting of metal parts and, in the worst-case scenario, invade the fuel that is contained in the underground storage tank (UST), which will compromise its quality. Preventing water intrusion is so difficult because there are a number of ways it can enter the tank sump and fuel-storage system: through leaking tank-sump lids; cracks in sump walls; damaged entry fittings; and, most commonly, through conduit runs.
When water intrusion does occur and an alarm is tripped, the sound that accompanies it may as well be the ringing of a cash register, since the site operator will soon be reaching for his or her checkbook in order to pay not only for the service call, but for a pump out of the tank sump. The cost for the following hypothetical pump out example is based on conversations with the service manager of a United States UST service and installation company based on the East Coast:
Sump Pump Out Cost Calculator
|Labor Hours||4 hours||$358.00|
|Travel Miles ($0.85/mi)||65 miles||$55.25|
|Vacuum Trailer Rental Fee||1||$75.00|
|Gal/Petroleum-Containing Waste (PCW); $1.80/gal||350 gallons||$630.00|
The costs, miles and hours for a pump out will obviously vary from site to site, but the price for this average example – multiplied by the 15-20 pump outs per UST, on average, that can occur annually at a fueling site – will result in an exorbitantly high cost to remediate water-intrusion events, with many fuel-site operators unable to reconcile this expense.
To The Rescue
The year 2017 will be looked back on as a landmark one for fuel-site operators in their constant battle against tank-sump water intrusion. It was then that OPW Retail Fueling, Smithfield, NC, introduced the revolutionary ElectroTite No-Drill Tank Sump to the market. What made ElecroTite a true game-changer was its status as the industry’s first and only tank sump that featured factory-installed conduit ports with an integrated electrical wiring junction box. This allows the sump to be installed as-is at the fueling site, with no intrusive drilling required. This feature eliminates the risk that unintended leak points will result due to the drilling of entry points, while also optimizing installation time.
Other beneficial features of the ElectroTite tank sumps include:
- Water Tightness
- Sealed conduits are located above the water table
- Elimination of all conduit entry fittings
- Reduced entry points lower number of potential leak points
- Conduit lines can be installed, inspected and repaired through the top of the sump
- Can access wiring box for inspection without entering confined sump area
- Explosion-proof junction box allows space to reroute or daisy-chain communication wires to spill containers and tank monitors, eliminating additional conduit runs to the tank field
- Electrical shield allows positioning of high- and low-voltage sensor wires in same box
- Conduit can be potted entering box, exiting box, or both
- Will replace up to six:
- Conduit entry fittings
- Conduit sealoffs
- Explosion-proof junction boxes
- Will replace up to six:
The bottom line is that the design and operation of ElectroTite tank sumps make it the most watertight system available, resulting in a fueling system that optimizes efficiency, reliability, cost-effectiveness, environmental protection and the safety of both the site and the customers who patronize it.
Seeing Is Believing
Of course, it’s easy to say that something is the best thing since sliced bread, but proving it is a different matter entirely. Well, after nearly four years of observation of in-the-field installations, the ElectroTite has more than lived up to its advance billing. The chart below compares tank-alarm remediation costs for two United States sites that have had ElectroTite tank sumps in operation for nearly four years to an average non-ElectroTite site:
|SITE 1||SITE 2||NON-ELECTROTITE SITE|
|# of Months Installed*||40||42||40|
|Total Tank Sump Alarms||0||1||48|
|Avg. Pump Outs/Month||0||0.024||1.2|
|Cost to Remove PCW ($/gal)||$1.80/gal||$1.80||$1.80|
|Overall Tank-Sump Maintenance Cost||$0.00||$450.00||$21,600.00|
*-as of January 2021
Let’s take a closer look at the individual installations and the conditions the sumps have encountered:
- Site 1: Three ElectroTite tank sumps were installed at this Midwestern U.S. site in November 2017, one each for unleaded gasoline, premium gasoline and diesel USTs. As you can see, this is turning out to be the poster child for the effectiveness of the ElectroTite tank sumps. In that time, not one single tank-sump alarm event has been recorded, resulting in zero cost for the overall maintenance of the sumps.
- Site 2: Two ElectroTite tank sumps were installed at this Southeastern U.S. location that is situated near an extremely high water table in September 2018, one each on the unleaded and premium gasoline USTs. Since then, two alarm events have been recorded at the site (both on the unleaded sump in July 2018 and September 2020), but only one required a pump out.
Fuel-site operators have always had to keep water from intruding into their below-ground fuel-storage systems, but that has proven to be easier said than done. Until 2017, that is. With the introduction of no-drill tank-sump/conduit-less technology to the market, epitomized by OPW’s ElectroTite system, the battle against water intrusion is being won more often by site operators. The result is a fueling operation that can more reliably deliver uncompromised fuel to its customers while helping to make expensive, time-consuming and frustrating sump pump outs a welcome thing of the past.
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