There were multiple instances in the Gulf of Mexico region where tote tank drain nozzles suffered damage, leading to leaks and spills during lifting events.

These incidents have raised significant safety concerns, and it is crucial possible risks end up promptly addressed to prevent further occurrences, said officials at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Recent safety events include:

Crane operator incident: A crane operator lifted a tote tank filled with diesel fuel surrounded by other items on the deck. The drain on the tote tank came into contact with another item on the deck during the lift, resulting in the drain breaking off. This incident led to a significant diesel fuel spill, affecting the deck and the surrounding water.

Chemical injection skid incident: During lifting operations involving a fully loaded 550-gallon total tank, the tote tank’s drain nozzle came into contact with a crossmember on the rack of a chemical injection skid. Upon inspection, workers discovered the nozzle extended beyond the tank wall by at least one inch. This contact caused a crack in the weld of the drain nozzle, resulting in a minor leak.

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These incidents underscore the critical need for heightened awareness and precautions during lifting operations involving tote tanks. To ensure the safety of personnel, equipment, and the environment, it is imperative to implement necessary measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

To that end, BSEE recommends operators and their contractors consider the following:

    • Ensure the nozzle and elbow assembly end up properly positioned before lifting a tote tank.
    • Make certain tank nozzles remain unobstructed by nearby objects and cannot become entangled with any items throughout the entire path the tank will be transported.
    • Ensure personnel are not able to encounter hazardous materials transferred on or around the facility.
    • Maintain proper Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) on site and ensuring crews can react to spills and loss of containment accordingly.

Tote tank drain nozzle cracked after contact with rack, resulting in a leak.Source: CSB

  • Keeping sorbents, barriers, towels, and other products on site to prevent environmental spillage or injury to personnel.
  • Make sure to implement the following safety measures during lifting or movement operations of tote tanks:
    — Utilize protective equipment: When handling tote tanks with protruding nozzles, consider employing protective equipment such as bumper guards or similar devices. These guards act as a barrier, preventing direct contact between the nozzle and surrounding equipment or structures.
    — Isolate drain connection: If feasible, isolate the tote tank’s drain connection from the nozzle before moving or lifting the tank. This isolation can occur by securing the drain connection separately. Ensure it is properly secured to prevent unintentional contact during handling.
    — Remove the nozzle: In cases where the nozzle protrudes beyond the dimensions of the tank wall and you cannot adequately protect or isolate it, consider removing the nozzle temporarily before moving or lifting the tank. This removal should end up conducted with care and precision to ensure the nozzle remains within the tank’s dimensions for protection.
  • Identifying the tote tanks with protruding nozzles and marking them distinctly to ensure easy detection. One effective method is applying paint to multiples sides of the tanks, emphasizing the presence of protruding nozzles.
  • Reviewing Safety Alert 383, Lifting Incidents Involving Tote Tanks.
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