United Pacific #5616 UDC repairs & sump replacements

Berkeley, California

Not every maintenance issue will cause a fuel system to fail regulatory inspections, but addressing the problem sooner rather than later is critical to ensuring it doesn’t get worse.

United Pacific recognized this when the CGRS California Compliance team performed triennial secondary containment tests – as required by SB989 – at a gas station in Berkeley, California, revealing two secondary-piping failures. A follow-up helium leak locate lead to the location of the failed secondary piping and the discovery of extensive corrosion to two turbine tank sumps and their contents.

The customer immediately requested an estimate on repairing the secondary piping under the three dispensers and replacing the turbine sumps on the unleaded 87 and 91 petroleum product tanks, said Richard Thomas, CGRS California Operations Supervisor. The job would require shutting down all four of the dispensers for two weeks, removing the product lines from the existing sumps and cutting out all of the components corroded by an electrolytic reaction over time.

Once the customer approved the estimate, CGRS started the work Sept. 21. The crew soon discovered the first of two surprises the job would present.

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Although the gas station is on a hill, the CGRS team found more than a little groundwater while excavating, as it was 2 feet over the top of the tank. Usually groundwater settles around the bottom of the tank pit on elevated properties.

The crew called in a guzzler truck to vacuum out pea gravel and a 5,000-gallon vacuum truck to remove the groundwater and see how quickly the tank pit would fill up with groundwater again. Finding the equipment was not an easy task during the pandemic, when resources are hard to come by.

As soon as the water was pumped down to below the tank top, it never came back up, allowing work to resume.

The CGRS team ran into another challenge when the new sumps, which the owner had ordered well in advance, didn’t ship on time. Their estimated time of arrival would put the job four days behind schedule, which would require CGRS to reschedule inspections and delay the gas station’s re-opening.

“It wasn’t good enough for me,” Thomas said.

Instead, Compliance Technician Roosevelt McNeil III drove down to Southern California to pick up the sumps at the manufacturer, resting for a night before driving back and working on the site with his team over the weekend.

The new sumps and secondary lines passed all the required testing once installed.

“We dealt with some challenges out there but still got it done a day early,” Thomas said, noting that the dispensers were working Oct. 1 and CGRS was off the site Oct. 2. “I’m pretty happy with the crew on that one.”