Loss Control Insights for Petroleum Marketers

Preventing Fuel Delivery Mishaps

Gas Station

Fuel delivery may seem simple, but small mistakes or overlooked details can create big problems with big price tags. Delivery drivers may dispense the wrong fuel into a gas station tank or deliver fuel to the wrong address. They might unwittingly fill a customer’s basement with fuel, not realizing that their tank is leaky or has been removed. These mishaps are commonly called “misdeliveries,” and they can be expensive—a house may need to be demolished to clean the surrounding soil of spilled fuel, or a car may need extensive repairs if the wrong fuel is introduced into its tank.

Take a look at these examples of what a misdelivery claim might cost:

  • Driver accidentally added diesel fuel to a tank of unleaded fuel: $9,000
  • Driver was unaware of a tank change and delivered wrong product: $42,000
  • Municipal lawn mowers damaged after wrong fuel was delivered: $2,500
  • Home heating oil mistakenly delivered to a house with no tank: $75,000
  • Driver overfilled tank and spilled 20 gallons of fuel: $4,500

Most delivery mistakes are preventable. Use these best practices as a guide for developing your own standards for fuel delivery. Prevention doesn’t necessarily require a large financial investment—just planning, training and development of procedures.

Residential Deliveries

Challenges

Storage tanks are usually in the basement or buried underground, making it difficult to inspect the tank before filling. Multiple fuel types in different compartments on the delivery truck increase the likelihood of delivering the wrong fuel.

 

Driver Best Practices

Before filling:

  • Check the delivery history chart and make sure your delivery is in line with the size of previous deliveries
  • Determine the available tank capacity before delivery
  • Visually inspect indoor tanks for general condition, connection and venting on an annual basis and document the results
  • Double-check the delivery ticket to verify details and that the fill pipe location is as indicated on the ticket
  • Verify that buried or basement tanks, filling lines and vents are piped outdoors
  • Conduct a visual inspection of the site for changes or problems; this may include ignition sources near the vent pipe, plugged vent pipes, excessive vegetation, unsecured fill caps or rust or corrosion on the piping
  • Ensure vent whistlers or other positive fill-notification alarms are in place before filling home basement tanks
  • Check that all fill pipes and caps are labeled or color coded to industry standards
  • Delivery rates should be limited to tank vent capacity to reduce the chance of a large spill or tank rupture

During filling:

  • Start pumping slowly
  • Keep the vent line in view while pumping
  • If a steady vent whistle isn’t established after 5 to 10 gallons, stop pumping

Commercial Deliveries

Challenges

Drivers usually rely on color coding or tagging of fill spouts to identify the correct underground tank, but drivers who repeatedly deliver to the same locations may assume they know the correct spout without checking each time. It’s also common for color coding or labels to wear off or be removed.

 

Driver Best Practices

Before filling:

  • Gauge the tank to determine available capacity
  • Verify that fill pipes and/or caps are labeled or color coded to industry standards
  • Set the brake on the tank truck and turn off lights before starting fuel transfer
  • Delivery rates should be limited to tank vent capacity to reduce the chance of a large spill or tank rupture
  • Make sure that leak monitoring well caps are locked, which helps drivers avoid the assumption that they are fill pipes
  • Conduct a visual inspection of the site for changes or problems; this may include ignition sources near the vent pipe, plugged vent pipes, excessive vegetation, unsecured fill caps or rust or corrosion on the piping

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