The US Military has and maintains several thousand bases. Several hundred of those bases are outside the United States. The Air National Guard has several hundred installations across the United States. One commonality at each of these facilities is a Fuels Management System, that is, a collection of pipelines, storage tanks, containment dikes, pumping stations, fuel islands, and canopies. Maintaining all the above ground and underground assets is no small task so one important method of preventative maintenance includes a regular coatings and corrosion assessment/survey.

A well-planned assessment/survey includes numerous steps. For example, all the painted assets are identified and visually observed across the total surface. Estimating the total surface area and the percent and type of corrosion is extremely invaluable when discussing with potential painting contractors. Highlighting areas of concern and coating defects in digital photos provide information to someone that is not onsite. Secondly, the physical condition of each coated asset should be evaluated. These evaluations include determining the coating system thickness via electromagnetic gauge, the degree of adhesion to the substrate and/or prior coatings, and the degree of chalking indicating coating system breakdown. Also, collecting coating samples for heavy metal testing is important to protect workers.

By thoroughly examining all the data, one must decide on the appropriate coating recommendation, that is, should the coating system be spot repaired, spot repaired and overcoated, or be removed and replaced. A series of questions must be asked, i.e., if overcoating is selected, which coating system and type of surface preparation is necessary for sufficient compatibility between the prior coating and new coating system? If the coating system is removed, which coating system chemistry should be selected for the service environment. If coating defects were found, what can be done to prevent similar defects in the future, if anything. Why should one select one strategy over another? How does the type of corrosion found on each asset affect future planning and design? What is the timeline to implement each strategy? How do different substrates (carbon steel, stainless steel, concrete) affect the recommended coating maintenance strategy?

Even though seemingly complex due to the number of assets, an organized approach to asset management is key. Performing coating and corrosion assessment/surveys and acting upon the recommendations will lead to successful mitigation of corrosion and ultimately protect the numerous fueling systems assets of the US Military.

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