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Storage tanks - Safe distance from Railways

Storage tanks - Safe distance from Railways

Storage tanks - Safe distance from Railways

Hi all,

Could you provide references of safe distances to be adopted from railway line to storage tanks.
Tank types - Fixed Cone roof with internal floating deck, fixed cone roof, double containment ammonia tanks.
Service - methanol, ammonia, caustic etc
Capacity varies from 4000 cu.m. to 62000 cu.m.


RE: Storage tanks - Safe distance from Railways

I do not believe that you will find the information that you need in a "Storage Tank Forum"

Safe distances between railways and tanks (or buildings, or any other structure) is probably governed by railway or local regulations.

I do not believe that tanks would be a "special" category for regulation of distance ....

Required distances between Flammable Storage Tanks and many other structures is contained in NFPA 30 .... Suggest you check there !!!

(NOTE: ... NFPA has some rules regarding underground vs. aboveground tankage and hoses adjacent to railways)

There may exist "Best Management Practices" for Storage Tank location and siting ... but these would be unique for each organization

Sr. Process Engineer

RE: Storage tanks - Safe distance from Railways

Thanks MJCronin

RE: Storage tanks - Safe distance from Railways

This is a risk question.

First define "safe". There's no such thing, only acceptable risk. What is your level of acceptable risk?

"Railway line" is also very vague.

Distances between a siding where trucks go at 10mph might be much lower than a passenger express line doing 80mph. Wholly industrial lines would be different to passenger lines.

Are you concerned about the impact on the railway or the railway on the tank farm? Could you get a derailment which causes a tank to be damaged?

Ammonia especially I think you might need hundreds of metres to avoid issues in the event of a leak, methanol also is very nasty stuff if it gets out of a tank and a passenger train went past.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Storage tanks - Safe distance from Railways

Thanks LittleInch.

This is an industrial railway line.
Both the projects (railway line as well as tankages) are coming up in future.
Am concerned about the vibrations transmitted to the storage tanks, and impact on railcar in the event of fire/explosion/leak.
Will include derailment in the review as suggested.

RE: Storage tanks - Safe distance from Railways

Concerns, Yes.

How valid they are you need to do some work.

That's why you start with a HAZID and tank then and address the concerns.

For those products you probably need to do some vapour cloud assessments based on different wind speeds and directions.

Industrial lines will have a higher acceptable risk level and a lot less people to affect than a passenger railway.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Storage tanks - Safe distance from Railways

Location of rail spurs, tank containment, tanks and assured compliance with local, state and federal emissions regulations is the reason why you hire an experienced Engineering Consulting firm

It's very complicated and you want to get it right the first time ... You want an experienced management group to prepare studies and reports.

You don't want the free advice of a bunch of unknown and possibly uncaring strangers from the interwebs ...

Oh, ... and please remember ... Here on eng-tips, you will always get what you pay for !!!

Sr. Process Engineer

RE: Storage tanks - Safe distance from Railways

Your best bet is to contact the railroad company in charge of the rail line. Railroad companies have safety guidelines for contractors doing work adjacent to or above rail lines.

RE: Storage tanks - Safe distance from Railways

Vibration effects on the foundations is a legitimate concern depending on proximity and subsurface conditions, as are possible stray currents from the railway affecting tank bottom corrosion rates or cathodic protection efficacy. The stakeholders all deserve input, and they will all have something to say. So, make a list of everyone involved - public, industry, government, etc, then start contacting them for their input. Most will be only too happy to help, and you will be far better off starting this way, in my opinion.

Although free, I often find responses from Eng-Tips to be worth more than zero.

And...sometimes less than zero...

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