Once upon a time in this country if you went out driving you ran a big risk. Petrol stations were not as abundant as they are now. For example, Supermarkets sold food and that was pretty much it there was no 24 hour petrol station attached. So, you had to rely on the local stations that were dotted around the country serving the motoring public, albeit on their terms and opening times. As the super markets began to expand into the petrol station market and roads through towns and villages were expanded or bypassed altogether these little concerns found themselves squeezed out and began to disappear.
This gives developers a problem, what to do with the now defunct forecourt and the petrol tanks underneath them. You can’t just build on top of them and if they rupture they can cause severe environmental damage. They are companies that specialise in such work. Tank Decommissioning is one example. Many of the sites have been developed into additional housing or retail outlets such and car and caravan dealerships or even an open cinema (see below).
What do you need to do to decommission a petrol station? There are a several stages that the company have to go through before it is declared safe. One way is to remove the tank completely or to simple leave it there and make sure it cannot leak or cause any issues afterwards. Let’s look at leaving it in the ground to start. Firstly the pipes have to be drained and all of the slurry and sludge sucked out so that no residue is left. This involves very specialist pump work. The fumes from the petrol remain so carbon dioxide or a nitrogen combination is added to neutralise this. The net problem becomes how to untangle and disconnect all the pipes that lead into the tank. Once they are removed the tank can be filled with concrete slurry that will in time set hard. The company have to make sure that the entire tank is filled with the runny concrete mix so much so that they must have a council official, a Petroleum Officer, on hand to make sure that it is done properly.
If a tank is going to be removed, they do have a certain value on the open metal scrappage market, and then there are a few more elements to check. Again all the petrol and slurry has to be cleared and flushed out then water added to create a seal. When the tank is full of water the company can start digging it out. Bearing in mind they will need to get through several layers of concrete first before they hit soil. Once the tank is out the water needs to be disposed of properly as it will be hazardous to health. It still has to have a highly flammable label on it until it is completely cleaned. Again, the Council Official needs to be present and needs to know where it is going to.