To power its fleet of police cars and fire trucks, keep plows plowing, sweepers sweeping, mowers mowing, and dump trucks rolling, the municipal government of Denver buys and stores fuels and oils in bulk. The City owns and operates six principal dispensing facilities and at any one time has over 300,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel in storage distributed between 30 facilities with petroleum storage capacity.
Another 10,000 gallons of motor oils, transmission fluids, and hydraulic fluids are stored in bulk tanks at twelve disparate vehicle service facilities. With all this petroleum comes the obligation to manage it wisely.
Executive order 109, signed by Mayor Wellington Webb in 2003, states:
“It is the policy of the City & County of Denver to reduce the potential threat to human health and the environment from the operation of above ground and underground storage tanks. Additionally, it is the policy to ensure compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local regulations, and to minimize the City’s risk of liability from the operation of such tanks while servicing the City’s fueling needs...The Storage Tank Program is hereby created to evaluate the needs of the City in operating above ground and underground tanks, to implement measures to address such needs, and to oversee compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.”
Beyond serving the City’s vehicle fueling and service needs, the goals of the Storage Tank Program are to:
- protect human health and the environment
- prevent spills and fires
- comply with all governmental rules and regulations
- meet modern industry standards
- promote conservation and cost savings
Environmental Quality works in partnership with Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and many other agencies to meet these goals. It’s a big job and takes the combined effort of a dozen workers to keep the city-wide network of petroleum storage facilities in top condition.
Per the executive order, the Environmental Quality Division of DEH “…shall provide support services required to effectively implement this Executive Order.”
These support services are:
- Perform annual and monthly routine tank tests and inspections.
- Maintain, and repair when necessary, computer electronics and communications for fuel level monitoring and leak detection.
- Coordinate tank repairs and upgrades.
- Document and record tank system status, and maintain tank compliance files.
- Respond to inquiries and requests for compliance data from state regulatory agencies, and compile compliance reports.
- Provide emergency response for system alarms, critical malfunctions, and accidents.
- Provide instruction and technical expertise to operating agencies on critical operations and maintenance tasks.
- Generate and implement spill prevention and response plans and procedures for fuel storage sites.
The Active Storage Tank Program is focused on in-service, or “Active” tanks owned and operated by City agencies. Tanks owned and used by private citizens, orphaned or abandoned tanks (those discovered on properties with no clear ownership), and tanks operated by commercial fuel suppliers are regulated and investigated by other entities.
The Environmental Site Assessment section with Environmental Quality investigates and re-mediates orphaned and leaking tanks found on properties owned or newly purchased by the City.
The State of Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Division of Oil and Public Safety (CDLE/OPS) is the chief regulating and enforcement entity for petroleum product dispensing and retail facilities.
The CDLE/OPS and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division (CDPHE/HMWMD) share authority and responsibility in the remediation of pollution caused by leaking tanks and in enforcement of state and federal tank installation, management, and closure regulations.
The Denver Fire Department has permitting and full safety authority within the jurisdictional boundaries of the City over all bulk storage installations flammable and combustible liquids, public, private and commercial.