suburban gasoline storage : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I've read a number of posts asserting that gasoline storage in suburbia is exceedingly dangerous. I had planned to store approximately 150 gal. of gasoline in a fuel tank salvaged from an 18-wheeler (aluminum). Assuming the use of a vented fuel cap, with the backyard tank 3/4 buried into the ground during the midwestern late fall/winter -- why is this more dangerous than the 50+ gallons of gas routinely "stored" in two cars parked in my garage? Clarification from any knowledgable Yourdonite's would be greatly appreciated.

-- Dave (, June 15, 1999


Point 1: DO NOT bury the tank. Doing so makes you subject to EPA regulations for "underground" fuel storage tanks. You may be subject to SEVERE FINES and/or IMPRISONMENT if you violate these regs.

Point 2: People fear what they don't understand. I intend to store 250 gallons in 55 gallon STEEL drums (don't use plastic, it can build up static charge) in the garage. Care must be taken to ground the drums properly during fillup, and to use only a MANUAL rotary-style hand pump for dispensing. DO NOT use anything connected to your electric drill, unless you have a death wish.

Point 3: GASOLINE in liquid form is about as flammable as WATER. ONLY the VAPORS burn. This was demonstrated to me quite effectively once. If gas were as volatile as people fear, you would be hearing about people blowing themselves up at gas stations, and "self-serve" would be ILLEGAL.

Really, people have to GET A GRIP. My dad stored gas in steel drums for 20 years, and never ONCE blew anyone up....

-- Dennis (, June 15, 1999.

Is there an additive required in order to maintain the usefulness of stored gasoline or does it "keep" well?

Mike ===================================================================

-- Michael Taylor (, June 15, 1999.

Gasoline stored more than 6 months should have a stabilizer added. I wouldn't use gas older than 1 year for fuel injected engines.

-- Dennis (, June 15, 1999.

NO plans for ANY type of electric pump. As for burying -- well, I assumed it would be safer (some degree of blast containment?) and I really wasn't too concerned about EPA. If it is unnecessary, then I won't bother digging a big hole. Planning to use Stabil, purchased from the local WalMart. Thank you, Dennis.

-- Dave (, June 15, 1999.

My dad stored gasoline in 55 gal drums throughout WW2. We experienced no problems

-- rb (, June 15, 1999.

The EPA does NOT regulate farm or residential tanks of 1,100 gallons or less capacity used to store motor fuel for noncommercial purposes. EPA also does not regulate the underground storage of any amount of fuel oil used strictly on-site and strictly for heat. There are additional exemptions. "Underground" is defined as any combination of pipes or tanks for which at least 10% of the volume is beneath the surface of the ground.

On the other hand, your fire department or one of the state agencies might have a lot to say about your storage intentions.

You should NEVER bury a tank not specifically rated for underground storage. They are prone to corrosion and then leakage. If gasoline, eventually youll poison the groundwater. Steel "Aboveground" tanks used in basements for heating oil are an example of what NOT to use.

Whether a substance is considered flammable is a matter of the substances flashpoint. The National Fire Protection Associations Fire Protection Guide defines flashpoint of a liquid as the temperature at which it gives off vapor sufficient to form an ignitible mixture with the air near the surface or the liquid or within the container. Solids and gases can also be ignitible. Liquid gasoline IS flammable, and dangerously so with a flashpoint of apx. -45F.

-- Brooks (, June 15, 1999.

Get PRI-D (diesel, kero) and PRI-G (gasoline), better than Stabil (don't need it for storage of diesel but does good things for the fuel with respect to algae and the like, and hence, for your machinery). These people sell PRI and gensets too (Lister) and know their stuff (the famous off-grid guy, Stan Pierchoski, also recommends them highly).

-- BigDog (, June 15, 1999.


Your post (the part about flashpoint) is a PERFECT example of "book smart, street stupid". Regardless of what the NUMBERS say, I KNOW the liquid itself is NOT flammable; I've SEEN THE TEST DONE. Perhaps the figure you're quoting is the "evaporation point" of gasoline, the temp at which it will produce vapor (again, the VAPOR being HIGHLY flammable).

-- Dennis (, June 15, 1999.

Sorry Brooks, just re-read. However, I stand by my statement that I've seen the test done, and the liquid did NOT ignite. Period. The liquid is safe to store as long as you keep it away from sources of ignition, where the vapor might catch a spark.

-- Dennis (, June 15, 1999.

Brooks, I understand the fire department's position -- they clean up the mess when ignorant people do silly things. I'm trying to learn the *best* way to store on-site for a reasonably short duration.

-- Dave (, June 15, 1999.

Dave, What I meant is that there may be a local or state permit and inspection required (as opposed to the EPA) for the volumes and manner of storage you have in mind. Might not have anything to do with how temporary it is. There have certainly been postings about neighbors squealing to authorities about suspicious looking Y2K preps. Meanwhile, your concern about safety is certainly something we need to share on this forum, there are so many of us trying to do new things to get ready. Good luck.

-- Brooks (, June 15, 1999.

When will you morons get it. My manager at Burger King says Y2K is no problem and I believe her.

-- Y2K Pro (, June 15, 1999.

Okay, neighbor "squealing" DOES potentially make the EPA/fire dept., etc. rules relevant. I had not thought of that (which is why I'm here)! FWIW, my backyard is surrounded by a seven foot privacy fence, so it is pretty unlikely that anyone would know. Naturally, I can't get the local oil company to fill an in-town tank, so I had planned to fill it over a weekend using multiple trips with 5-gal cans. So, legalities aside, if the tank is outside, vented, away from the residence and protected from ignition sources (eg. no smoking, electric pumps, fireworks or checking contents with a match)is it roughly equivalent - in terms of safely - to the gas in the cars? I know it's not an ideal sitation, but have I done everything possible to reasonably mitigate the safety risks? Appreciate your input, Brooks.

-- Dave (, June 15, 1999.


I worked for an oil company a few years ago and had the luxury of having a 550gal.above ground gasoline tank with a hand pump! I lived on 5acres though! Man was it great! Believe it or not Construction sites have fuel tanks all over the place from 55gal. to 10,000 above ground tanks. As long as---NO ONE-- screws with your tank. Not a problem! Of course when we're all watching our grass grow and you're mowing yours. We may want you to share!!?

Good Luck D.B.

-- David Butts (, June 15, 1999.

Thanks for the direction, Big Dog. Called the company and talked to a really nice guy named Kenton. Said he had talked to you recently. Ordered two quarts, one for gasoline, one for diesel. Heckuva lot cheaper than Stabil.

-- Vic (, June 15, 1999.

Dennis: Seems like last time I poured "liquid" gasoline on a flame it burned like hell. What's this "as flammable as water" crap?

-- a (a@a.a), June 15, 1999.

a, You been BBQin' again haven't ya? Try lighter fluid (smile). I'm no scholar on this issue but it is the fumes that burn, as the liquid heats up the fumes come faster. Dave, you may be ok for a 3 or so but don't spend a whole lotta $ on this part of your preps. First of all anything resembling a 5 and you'll just be making yourself a target for those without (fuel and food). If things get REALLY bad chances are you won't even be able stay where you are let alone enjoy your cache of fuel.

-- MidwestMike_ (, June 15, 1999.

How do I ground a steel tank?

-- Helen (, June 15, 1999.

Secure a wire from the tank to a rod sunk ~6feet in the ground (common practise to use a COPPER rod).

-- MidwestMike_ (, June 15, 1999.

Here's a link on fuel storage

Oil/Fuel Treatment & Storage

Lots of good info on

The Juice Page

mb in NC

-- mb (, June 15, 1999.

I agree, Mike. My original prep was to restore the waterwell on the property (old farmstead - now in a developed neighborhood). Of course, that required a generator to run the pump, and the generator runs on gas.....we've all been there. While, in theory, I could run the house for three months isolated from all city services, it is more likely that my place will become the water source for the immediate neighborhood -- but only for as long as I can run the pump. As we move up the scale it becomes less "my house" and more "our neighborhood".

-- Dave (, June 15, 1999.


Yes my freind, unfortunatly that would be the case.

God forbid.

-- MidwestMike_ (, June 15, 1999.

I already have gas stored in two 55 gal plastic drums partially buried. What's the safest way to extract it?

-- Have (I@screwed.up?), June 15, 1999.

Helen asked how to ground a steel drum/barrel that will be used to store gas.

Helen,use the same approach used to ground your washing machine, clothes dryer, etc.

Ideally you would weld a protruding piece of metal to the side of the CLEAN EMPTY metal tank - but the welding heat might cause any explosive residual gases inside to explode. So Do Not Weld.

Read the following before you go to your hardware stor. Make a list.

To securely ground your steel barrel, use a steel file to polish 4 pairs of small (about 1/2 inch diameter) adjacent surfaces around the inner edge and outer edges of the TOP lip of your barrel. File these small spots until you can see the bare shiny metal. At a hardware store buy four 1 (or 2) inch 'C' clamps (they look like the letter C). Get about 10 feet of number 10 gauge copper wire (your grounding wire) or 1/8th inch COPPER tubing.

When you get home, file-polish both clamping surfaces of the clamps. Strip off the copper wire's insulation just before you clamp-fasten it tightly against the polished spots on your barrel's TOP lip. Use a C clamp to firmly clamp the bare copper wire against a place you polished on the drum's top lip. You want the 2 polished flat spots of your clamp to tightly squeeze and hold your copper wire against a polished area on the inner OR outer edge of your barrel's top lip. Using the same piece of copper wire and the other 3 clamps, repeat this for the other 3 polished spots on the top lip of your drum. You'll end up with your one copper wire clamped securely to your drum in 4 places. You really only need one 1 clamp and 1 clamping location on the drum but the 4 clamps will give you 3 back up attachments in case one of the clamps gets loosened by a squirrel, falling tree branch or something.

At your hardware store get a steel (not aluminum) pipe or rod that you must pound at least 2 or 3 feet into the soil near where your gas drum will be located - far away from your home. Also at the hardware store buy 2 copper "grounding clamps" that will fit around your steel pipe. Use the 2 grounding clamps to fasten the loose (non-drum) end of your copper wire to your steel rod at 2 different locationsat least 6" above the soil. Ask the hardware store guys if you are unsure how to clamp the wire onto the steel rod.

So you'll end up with one end of the copper wire clamped onto the lip of your drum at 4 places and clamped onto your steel rod in 2 places. Tighten all clamps and recheck they are tight once a week (Copper flows with time)

It is important that you keep the soil moist around where the steel pipe or rod enters the dirt. You might dump your used dish/washing water on the soil there every couple of days to keep it moist and thus insure a good ground contact for your drum.

This sounds complex - but should only take you 5 to 10 minutes once you have the file, C clamps, grounding pipe clamps, pipe/rod and copper wire

If you intend to use an old fashioned TV antenna on your roof after 1/1/99, you need to ground your TV antenna in case it attracts a lightning bolt. So also get 2 more grounding clamps to clamp one end of another copper grounding wire to your antenna and the other end to another steel post that is driven into the soil. But keep the 2 steel posts at least 100 feet apart so the lightning from your TV antenna is not conducted to the wires to your gas drums. Keep the soil wet also.

By the way, at a Sunny's hcamping/outdoor store, I bought an excellent US Army Survival booklet for $6 that the army issues now to their soldiers. It is US Army Field Manual FM 21-76. I believe the USAF, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard have similar manuals.

Good luck

Ron Sander, Electrical Engineer and another Y2K GI

-- Ron Sander (, June 15, 1999.

I'm hoping to store about 120 gallons of gas. 40 in my suburban, 20 in the blazer, 20 in my boat, 40 in 8- 5 gallon jerry cans. Will drive the VW if I need wheels. Think it will work? Would really like feedback. Oh yeah have two siphon pumps.

-- kozak (kozak@formerusaf.guv), June 15, 1999.

Uh, hate to be pesky again...if plastic generates so much static and is therefore dangerous...why don't we see more folks blowing themselves up re-fueling their lawnboys with those Walmart 5 gal poly containers?

-- a (a@a.a), June 15, 1999.


Static gets discharged when the can is on the ground, aslo, the 5 gallon cans are too small to build up sufficient charge.

-- kozak (kozak@formerusaf.guv), June 15, 1999.

Regarding flamability of gasoline, when I was a trainee motor mechanic in the Army our instructor demonstrated extinguishing a cigarette by plunging it into hub-cap of gasoline. It went out. I don't recommend doing it though, despite having seen it done. Treat all petroleum products with care!


-- Ron Davis (, June 15, 1999.

Thank you for the grounding info. I didn't know they had to be grounded. Therefore you have saved my life and possibly others. Heros already, and well before the rollover! :)

-- Helen (, June 15, 1999.

(1) Regarding plastic building up static: Here in Hawaii, pickup truck beds rust out quickly. So a lot of people use plastic bed liners. These can build up static charges and even spark when someone fills a gas can inside the truck bed. So we have to fill the can outside the truck bed. For big tanks, I'd feel safer with a grounded steel tank.

(2) I, too, have had "Ranch" tanks of 55 to several hundred gallons without a problem. It sure pays to have agricultural zoning...

-- Mad Monk (, June 16, 1999.

Kozak: Most all cars and trucks hace a anti-siphon baffel in the filler neck of the gas tank. Can't get a hose past it and into the tank, I tried. Mike

-- Mike (, June 16, 1999.

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