Protecting human health and the environment are essential requirements in today’s exploration & production, refining, and petroleum marketing workplaces. Preventing tank overfills at above-ground, atmospheric storage tanks is essential, for "overfills" and the attendant consequences, i.e., potential volitization and groundwater-soil contamination, etc., pose significant risk to the safety of workers, surrounding communities, and the environment itself. Overfill incidents demonstrate the need, and urgency, for tank overfill protection measures to be evaluated and, as determined, undertaken.

The design and implementation of a tank overfill protection (hereafter referred to "TOP") program offers potential benefits for E&P in the environmental, human health, community welfare, and safety performance areas. E&P operations do not necessary deal in the numbers of atmospheric tanks as those in, say for example, the midstream (pipeline) operations, nonetheless safety and environmental contamination are issues of concern. There are common attributes of a comprehensive overfill protection that can be applied to E&P settings.

A TOP program for a large pipeline organization – consisting of hundred’s of above-ground, atmospheric storage tanks (Class 1-3 liquids) – was recently developed and implemented, and is currently undergoing its first year of compliance and assurance evaluation. This program was comprehensive in nature, containing its own unique objectives and distinctives.

There are two aspects to an overfill protection program. The first is the "programmatic" aspect, which addresses the various program features, i.e., policy development; standards and procedures; roles and responsibilities; program management functions; and various content features of the overfill policy to be implemented. The second aspect deals specifically with overfill equipment, to include equipment identification and related engineering, procurement, and construction (installation) activities, as well as any necessary electrical and instrumentation upgrades at a facility. The programmatic aspect, in a proactive and preventative sense, is deemed the most protective regarding tank overfill events.

This paper addresses a "conceptual model" for an overfill protection program, based on this recent industry example. Key portions of the programmatic and overfill equipment aspects will be addressed.

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