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27Aug

Tripod tanks on way out

The end for Tripod Tanks

Words by Richard Rennie

The days are numbered for farm tripod fuel tanks, with more fuel distribution companies opting out of allowing customers to have them on farm due to growing health and safety concerns about the structures.

Long a familiar item among the usual farm buildings and structures, the tripod tanks are presenting an ever-growing danger to farmers, employees and fuel delivering staff thanks to an inherently unstable design, aging tank supports and access risks.

Back in 1996 the tank design was phased out, making those still in use at the extreme end of their life, regardless of changes in Health and Safety regulations.

Ultimately the cessation of tripod tanks will be covered under a National Standard, but fuel distributors have taken the initiative to work towards an early end to the tanks’ use.

Last year a fuel tanker driver was seriously injured when a badly rusted tripod tank collapsed.

Ruralco’s key distributor have had concerns over the tanks’ safety, with drivers also experiencing some near miss encounters on the structures.

Ruralco has been working with its bulk fuel farming clients to ensure they are aware of the impending end to tripod tank supply, and to provide some viable options to make the transition to a new fuel tank seamless and safe.

Ruralco Fuel Account Manager Sarah Bennett says there are still dozens of the tripod tanks scattered throughout rural Canterbury, and likely to be many more owned by clients in the North Island and Southland.

“The original advice from WorkSafe NZ was that the tanks could be used until they reached the end of their useful life.”

“But it has now been ruled that they can no longer be used, with fuel distributors also making the decision themselves to not deliver to new clients with the tanks, and to stop delivering to existing ones before year’s end.”

The replacement options for farmers needing to get rid of their tripod tanks can be either a gravity fed, stand mounted horizontal tank, or an on-ground tank that is operated using a hand pump.

The elevated tanks have numerous features that ensure operator safety and tank durability, including foot pads for leg mountings, bracing, isolation values handrails on the ladder and compliant ventilation valves.

Modifications to existing tripod tanks are not allowable to meet HSNO requirements, and this includes welding on additional legs, rails, or ladder modifications.

Ruralco has several approved fuel tank suppliers that can provide a range of tank configurations and sizes that fit with farm fuel needs. They can provide tanks ranging from 400l to 1995l to replace non-compliant tanks, with costs starting from $2,500 plus GST.

To ease the cost of changing tanks, some suppliers can provide finance and leasing options over a time payment basis.

Ruralco is working hard to ensure all parties benefit from the opportunity to install a safer, compliant on farm fuel supply and they can provide a full assessment of the site, clearances and other possible hazards that may overlay the installation’s footprint.

Sarah says most customers will opt for a 1995 litre split configuration tank, with 70% diesel, 30% petrol. Security is guaranteed with most designs incorporating a lockable ball value and lockable filling point.

Remote monitoring technology can also be installed to keep an accurate and real time update on fuel offtake from the tank supply.

“The move away from tripod tanks has been signalled for a while now, but their end is imminent, and we are able to provide our farmer customers with some good options that will not only be safer but can help them better monitor and understand the level of farm fuel use,” says Sarah. For further information regarding these changes and options to ensure fuel supply please contact Ruralco Fuel here or visit worksafe here for more information.

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