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Oil Packaging Best Practices

Oil packaging is becoming a common operation for bulk oil dealers. Each packaging facility is unique and should be evaluated according to the guidelines outlined by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA®) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI®), as well as local and regional codes and statutes. Packaging guidelines refer to using Class III liquids in bulk form and filling 5- to 660-gallon containers.

Protect Property Inside Buildings When Packaging Petroleum Products

Packaging operations should be conducted in areas separated from other occupancies by a 4-hour rated fire wall, and all openings should be covered with fire doors having a 3-hour rating (two 1½-hour doors). Offices, warehousing, bulk tank storage and packaging areas should be separated from one another.

Thresholds between other occupancies next to the packaging operations should be raised to a minimum of two inches. The purpose of this is to keep liquid products from leaving the tank storage area if they are released during an accidental spill or fire conditions.

Tanks should be equipped with self-closing, fusible link valves at their base and emergency vents, as well as static/pressure vacuum vents. The static vents do not need to extend outside for Class III liquids.

Fill connections to the tanks should be located outside the building and should include backflow check valves. These valves should be located behind the bulkhead and securely anchored to it, with the fill connection on the opposite side.

Normally, Class III liquids do not require installation of a dike. However, there may be some locations—such as those close to other properties, rivers or drains— that need to be diked. This applies to property both inside and outside of the building.

Flammable liquids should not be stored in the same area as Class III liquids unless they are housed in a flammable liquid cabinet or a flammable liquid storage room constructed for that purpose, or are protected with a foam sprinkler system. This includes flammable liquids used in packaging windshield washer fluid.

Equipment and Storage in Oil Packaging Operations

Industrial lift trucks, pallet jacks and hand trucks should be available to minimize the physical lifting needed to move and store finished packaged products.

Products on the floor should be stored with minimum 8-foot aisles, and each “pile” of product should be no more than 13,750 gallons in quantity, nor stacked more than 15 feet high.

Rack storage requires in-rack sprinklers and may need to be reviewed by an engineer for adequacy.

Liability from Mislabeling in Petroleum Packaging Operations

Lubricating oils and transmission fluids are typical products usually packaged by oil jobbers. While these products are similar in viscosity and upper and lower flammable limits, they are very different in chemical makeup and end use.

Because of their critical differences, mispackaging or mislabeling these products can cause damage to a customer’s engine or transmission, possibly opening you up to product liability issues.

The best way to maintain a separation between these products is to use separate piping and pumps. The best method to keep the products from being inadvertently combined is to use different sized attachment connections.

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