Top of the Pops may have disappeared years ago, but with over 200 years’ experience in tank cleaning, the team at Ancorra Environmental have compiled their ‘Top Ten’ memorable and unusual tank cleaning experiences.
At 10. Time to fly
Tony Mitchell : A transport company had fly ash stuck on its tanker. Fly ash is a coal combustion product, composed of the particulates driven out of coal-fired boilers. The ash had got damp in the tanker; not very good news. We saved the day! Using a heavy duty DISAB tanker, and fully trained operatives, for man entry in the tank to manually remove the residue.
At 9. Basement tanks
Jennie Riding : I would love to go back, to when people thought that putting oil tanks in basements was a good idea (often bricking them up to provide a bund). From a health and safety point of view there is so much to consider; from the escape and rescue implications of working in such a hard to reach area, to the manual handling of the demolition material, which has to be physically removed. Our management systems, accredited by the BSI for 9001, 14001 and 18001, help us to control risks, but elimination is always my preferred method wherever possible. Having the in-house ability to foam fill redundant tanks can provide an easier and cheaper solution, which we recommend whenever it is appropriate for the desired outcome of the job.
At 8. Going the extra mile
Janet Garland : Ancorra prides itself on customer service, but sometimes we have to (quite literally) go the extra mile for our customers. We have not only completed jobs within reach of John O’Groats and Land’s End and everywhere in between, but also have regularly travelled to the Isle of Mann, Jersey, Guernsey and the Outer Hebrides. Such is our commitment to servicing our customers, that we now have a base in Dublin; so that we can effectively cover Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland too.
At 7. Paint Spray Booths – never say ‘No’
Tony Mitchell : Entering a paint spray booth can feel like entering the film set of a horror movie. Often they are very large, dark enclosed rooms with a thick coating of paint on the walls and thick sludge to trudge through. Paint stalactites hang from the ceilings, casting strange shadows from the work lights. We are often called in when the manufacturer’s usual contractor refuses (or fails) to clean a contaminated booth. This often leads to other jobs.
At 6. Brewer’s drop
Andy Booth : In a certain brewery, entry to the tank calls for the operatives to be lowered in and suspended on a ‘Bosun’s chair.’ This calls for a rigorous risk assessment and method statement process, including a double
winch system and a professional with a head for heights. Residue was removed off the tank walls, and a food-grade standard disinfectant applied to all surfaces. The customer re-booked us for the next periodic clean.
At 5. Good chemistry
Neil Riding : The majority of our tank cleaning work involves fuel, oils or inert materials, however we have the experience and capability to handle much more complex tank cleans. A recent clean at a chemical manufacturer involved two tanks; one had contained water reactives and the other a strong hydrochloric acid. Protecting our staff and controlling the clean to prevent any adverse reaction, is imperative. Once we worked on a cyanide tank and had to ensure that the antidote (amyl nitrate) was available for immediate use in the event of an emergency. For these type of cleans we always use our most experienced operatives, with younger team members also there, so that the expertise is passed on.
At 4. When disaster strikes
Steve Davies : The memory of working at Buncefield, following the explosion and subsequent fire 13 years ago, will always be fresh in my memory. I was called in as a tank cleaning subcontractor. It was the fifth largest oil products storage facility in the UK, and the first explosion measured 2.4 on the Richter scale. I had never seen anything like it before and hope never to again. Having such experiences is a reminder of the potentially hazardous nature of the industry, and the importance of good compliance to mitigate against any risks.
At 3. Tank clean fit for a (future) King
Christopher Evans : Usually cleaning aviation fuel tanks is nothing unusual. Doing so on an RAF airbase, with fighter jets landing and taking off, makes for a pretty unusual working environment. The fact that Prince William was undertaking his helicopter training there at the time just nudged it into the totally bizarre!
At 2. Under pressure
Simon Palmer : Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) is solid at ambient air temperature and is very difficult and costly to remove and dispose of. We utilise a steam boiler to heat the oil, making it pumpable for transfer on to a heated barrel. The oil can then be taken
for processing and recovery. This option provides considerable savings for our customers. The last HFO tank job we did was on an abandoned site so we had to be fully self-sufficient, bringing our own power and water supplies to facilitate the job.
And at number 1 – pick of the pops! The highest standards
Trevor Evans : I often wonder if we can claim to have conducted the highest altitude tank clean in the UK! Having completed a job at the top of Snowdon, 1085 metres above sea level. The café was changing its heating systems and so required the old oil tank to be cleaned and removed. We pride ourselves on punctuality (especially important on this job as our team had to report at 8am to catch the train to the summit).
The view from the top was recently voted ‘Best View in Britain’ but it was all in a day’s work for the team at Ancorra.