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Hovensa Empties Storage Tank Suspected of Leaking

June 21, 2005 – A tank that might or might not have been leaking benzene has been emptied at Hovensa without incident.
During a routine tank inspection on June 13 it was indicated that the tank was losing 10 gallons per hour. (See " Hovensa Reports Hazardous Substance Spill ").
At that time Alex Moorhead, Hovensa vice president, referred to it as a "suspected leak" but the company wanted to error on the side of caution and went through all the notification procedures and safety measures mandated for a leak.
Moorhead said, "There was no visible sign that product, in fact, was leaking out of the tank."
On Tuesday, Moorhead stated the company had finishing that morning transferring the contents of the possibly leaking tank to another tank at the refinery without incident.
The release further stated the tank contained approximately 100,000 barrels of benzene at the time of the tank inspector's report. (One barrel equals 42 gallons.)
Moorhead stated benzene is a flammable clear liquid, which is classified as a hazardous substance because of its chemical properties and effects on human health at certain exposure levels. He pointed out benzene is a natural constituent in crude oil, which is sold as a commercial product of refined crude oil and is contained in several commonly used fuels, including gasoline.
He added that, while an alternate tank was being prepared for the transfer of the benzene and while the transfer was in progress, the exterior of the tank and the ground around it was visually inspected periodically for any sign that product was leaking into the ground, and no sign of a leak was found. He said that, additionally, air analyses were conducted several times each day by an industrial hygienist and at no time was benzene detected in excess of the maximum exposure limits set by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.
"Once tank No. 7602 is opened and physically inspected thoroughly, a final determination will be made as to whether the tank was actually leaking," Moorhead said. He concluded by stating that the tank will not be returned to use until the physical inspection has been completed and, if any leak is found, the tank is repaired. Further, if any leak is found, any discharge will be cleaned up.
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