Those bright white aboveground storage tanks (AST) haven’t been freshly painted to give them curb appeal, although they may be more pleasant to look at. The white paint – direct-to-metal (DTM) urethane, actually – adds a layer of safety to protect the environment from the tank’s contents.
The California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Standing Loss Control Requirements include the coating of gasoline ASTs with white, high-performance paint, specifically, to keep them cooler. Doing so reduces the amount of vapors the tanks’ contents produce and how much vapor escapes.
New ASTs installed in California now meet this requirement. However, owners/operators of older tanks do not need to apply the white paint until their coatings begin to corrode with rust, chalking and/or fading. ASTs need a new coating every 10 to 20 years, depending on environmental factors. Those near the ocean, like in California, are exposed to salt water in the air, speeding up the corrosion process. Tanks in dryer climates, like the desert, will not rust as quickly.