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A Quick Guide to API 653 Certified Storage Tank Inspector Syllabus: Example Questions and Worked Answers

Clifford Matthews
Clifford Matthews
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Co-published by ASME Press and Woodhead Publishing (UK)
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First of all, what exactly is the point of tank inspections? Granted, some leak or catch fire, and there are no doubt a small number of major failures, but the everyday world is not exactly full of catastrophic tank disasters.

On the face of it, API codes are quite clear on the subject — their objective is to achieve tank integrity (it says so in API 653 section 1). Integrity must surely mean structural integrity, i.e. the avoidance of catastrophic failure or major collapse leading to total loss of the tank contents.

All right. What about leaks? Clearly, leaks are undesirable and published codes have quite a bit to say about avoiding them. API 575 starts the ball rolling in its section 5: Reasons for inspection and causes of deterioration. It mentions the objective of avoiding holes in all areas of a tank, to avoid the risk of hazards from flammable leaks or environmental pollution. The situation elsewhere in the codes is not quite so straightforward — it is a long-standing principle of API codes that fairly deep isolated pits are unlikely to lead to structural failure. For tanks, this is balanced by API 653's approach to repairs; patch plates, flush insert repairs or hot taps are really no problem as far as API 653 is concerned, so leaks from isolated pitting can be repaired if or when they occur.

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