Regulations pertaining to the installation and registration of aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) are documented within the Alberta Fire Code (AFC), Part IV. The following information draws attention to only selected sections of frequently asked questions relevant to the topic. Copies of the Code can be acquired from National Research Council.  The order form is here

AST InstallationObtain Approval

Every storage tank installation requires pre-approval from the Authority Having Jurisdiction. Please refer to the PTMAA website to determine the Authority Having Jurisdiction for your area or call the PTMAA office for more information. The AFC mandates that a professional engineer design aboveground tank installations. As an Authority Having Jurisdiction, the PTMAA requires a completed pdf permit application (265 KB)  and three sets of engineered drawings stamped by a professional engineer licensed to practice in Alberta be submitted to the PTMAA office. A Fire Code Variance to not have an engineer prepare drawings is available here.  

To qualify for the variance:

  • individual tanks are not greater than 8,000 litres,
  • the total storage capacity of the installation does not exceed 20,000 litres,
  • the tank(s) are outdoors,
  • all parts of the system are aboveground and visible to inspection, and
  • a Small Tank Application is submitted

Permit Application

The PTMAA provides storage tank installation advice to all stakeholders, regardless of the location of the planned installation. The Permit Regulation for the province of Alberta came into effect April 1, 2008. The regulation mandates that a permit shall be applied for and issued for all petroleum storage tank installations, removals, or alterations. Submit the completed pdf permit application (265 KB)  to the PTMAA office and we will follow up with information to verify a plan that meets the Fire Code or give suggestions to get things back on track. 

Approved Aboveground Petroleum Storage Tanks:

The AFC specifies that ASTs approved for installation must be designed, constructed and meet applicable ULC (Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada) or API (American Petroleum Institute) standards. Acceptable tanks will be stamped with a ULC or API label and will be listed in the Alberta Fire Code. The maximum capacity for ASTs used exclusively at a fuel dispensing station is 80,000 litres per tank; this includes multi-compartment tanks where the total of both compartments cannot exceed 80,000 litres. An aggregate capacity of 200,000 litres is allowed at fuel dispensing stations. Larger capacities of individual tanks are available if protected tanks are used, complying with ULC-S655.  Fuel dispensing facilities refers to any place where fuel is put in vehicles, airplanes and watercraft and includes retail, cardlock and personal / commercial use. Tanks typically referred to as "farm tanks" mounted on stands do not meet the Fire Code. To see reasons farm tanks are not acceptable click here.

Acceptable tanks include:

  • ULC-S601, "Shop Fabricated Steel Aboveground Horizontal Tanks for Flammable and Combustible Liquids"
  • CAN/ULC S-602, "Aboveground Steel Tanks for Fuel Oil and Lubricating Oil"
  • ULC-652, "Tank Assembles for Collection of Used Oil"
  • ULC/ORD-C142.5, "Concrete Encased Steel Aboveground Tank Assembles for Flammable and Combustible Liquids"
  • ULC-S655, "Protected Aboveground Tank Assembles for Flammable and Combustible Liquids"
  • ULC/ORDC-142.23, "Aboveground Waste Oil Tanks"
  • API-650, "Welded Steel Tanks for Oil Storage"
  • API-620, "Design and Construction of Large, Welded, Low-Pressure Storage Tanks"

What are the Distance Requirements?

Minimum distance requirements (in meters) for an AST to a building are listed in the table below.

Unprotected Tank

 

Used Oil

Diesel

Gasoline

<=2,500L

0m

0m

3m

<=5,000L

0.5m

0.5m

3m

<=50,000L

1.5m

1.5m

3m

Protected Tank1

 

Used Oil

Diesel

Gasoline

<=2,500L

0m

0m

0m

<=5,000L

0m

0m

0m

<=50,000L

0m

0m

0m

1 Protected Tanks meet the standards of ULC655. These tanks are totally enclosed in steel, or concrete which is a fire, impact and ballistic resistive encasement.

Tanks < 250,000 L must be situated a minimum distance of 3 meters from any property line. More distance is required for tanks that exceed 250,000L and you are advised to contact our office for those requirements.

The minimum distance between every combination of 2 ASTs shall be 1 meter unless one or more of the tanks has a capacity of 250,000 litres or more. When tanks are >250,000 litres, the required spacing would be .25 times the sum of their diameters. Where end failures of a horizontal tank may endanger an adjacent property, the tank should be placed with the longitudinal axis parallel to the adjacent property.

ASTs must be installed at least 6 meters from propane or other liquefied petroleum gas cylinders. The centre line of secondary containment walls shall not be less than 3 meters from LPG cylinders and 6 meters from LPG tanks.

ASTs can be placed on the ground or foundations, supports or pilings. Steel supports >300 mm in height must have a 2-hour fire resistance rating. Installing supports on firm foundations will minimize uneven tank settling and corrosion on areas of the tank resting on the foundation. In some situations treated wooden timbers can be used to support the tank. A typical dimension timber would be like an 8in x 10in railway tie. In no case should the number of timbers exceed five for tanks up to 12ft in diameter.

Tank Construction

  • Tank Vents: Special attention should also be focused on vapors released from tank vents. Ensure vapors will not enter building openings or be trapped near any part of a building. Vent openings must be located at least 1.5 meters from any building opening. Tanks storing flammable products must have a vent pipe extending not less than 3.5 meters above ground level whereas combustible products (diesel, used oil) require the vent pipe to be 2 meters above grade. All tanks must be fitted with both an emergency and a normal vapor vent. The tank manufacturer may not provide the venting device for you so make sure you specify more than a plugged opening.
  • Valves: Piping connections to ASTs at any level below the maximum product level shall be provided with a steel shutoff valve or anti-siphon valve. An anti-siphon or solenoid valve is necessary if there is potential for the contents of the tank to leak out if the pipe is severed.
  • Overfill Prevention Requirements: ASTs must be protected against overfilling by having an overfill protection device installed on the tank or continuous supervision of the filling operations by qualified personnel. If the tank is filled with a camlock, tight-fill connection it must have an overfill prevention device.  Horizontal tanks that are tight-filled must have a positive shut-off device rather than an alarm. Make sure the overfill device is approved for aboveground storage tank use.

Secondary Containment to Contain Accidental Spillage

Secondary containment can be achieved by using a double wall tank or a single wall tank placed in a conventional dike system. The walls and base of a conventional dike shall be made of non-combustible materials and provide a permeability of not more than 10-6 cm/sec. Impermeable dike liners conforming to ULC-S668 forms the base of the dike.  The liner must be compatible with the product being stored. The total dike area shall be constructed to accommodate spilled product. If a single tank is placed in a dike, the dike must be capable of containing 110% capacity of the tank. If there is more than one tank, the volumetric capacity of the dike would be the volume of the largest tank plus 10% of the capacity of the largest tank or 10% of the aggregate capacity of all remaining tanks, whichever is greater. The calculation must consider the volume of liquid that would be displaced by tank volume beneath a full dike. Dike walls shall be placed no less than 1.5 meters from the tank outer shell. Containment areas should not permit an accumulation of precipitation or liquids. A low point in the secondary containment shall be used to draw liquid from the containment area in a safe manner. The contained space shall not be used for storage purposes.

Collision Protection

If the potential for vehicular damage to a double-wall tank system exists, collision protection is required. Most popular types of collision protection are concrete filled steel posts placed 1 meter from outer edge of the tank shell and 1.5 meters apart. Concrete "New Jersey Turnpike" barriers 750mm high and wide spaced 500 mm from the tank shell are also accepted. More detail is provided pdf here (378 KB) .

Contractor Selection:

ASTs that are fully equipped do not require a certified installer to be present at time of installation. However, when equipment such as, but not limited to, piping, fittings, valves or dispenser connections are made, an approved contractor is required to do the installation. A list of approved contractors is available here.

Dispensing Systems

If your tank system is configured with underground piping to a remote dispenser system, engineered drawing detail must be provided in accordance with the Alberta Fire Code. An acceptable piping system will include a transition sump where steel piping is connected to underground double-walled thermoplastic piping and to a dispenser, which is mounted on an island with an under-dispenser sump. All sumps must include sensors to detect a piping, turbine or pump leak.

Can my AST be installed indoors?

ASTs can be located inside a building if absolutely necessary and if a tight-fill is used so vapors do not get into the building. The tank must be properly vented to the outside. Please call our office to discuss requirements for installations of this nature.

Tank Registration

Some aboveground storage tanks do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Fire Code. Tanks used exclusively for farm purposes or on temporary construction projects are examples of exclusions. Also, if the tank is part of an approval from the Alberta Energy Regulator it would fall under the jurisdiction of the standards of Directive-55. Tanks used in gas plants would be an example of this exemption. Registration applies to tanks which fall under the Fire Code if one or more compartments of an aboveground installation is 2500 litres or greater. A tank registration form is submitted to the PTMAA once the tank is installed. Tanks subject to registration cannot be used, product added to or product removed from a tank that is not registered. Owners are encouraged to gather as much technical information as possible from tank manufacturers and installers in order to simplify the registration process. The tank ULC or API Standard listing is especially important. A certificate, which expires August 31st of each year is sent to the owner once the registration process is complete. Tanks which do not meet the Fire Code, as evidenced by Safety Codes Officer approval, will not be registered.