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Unanchored Fuel Tanks Dangerous to Residents, Homes and Businesses

Release date: 
July 8, 2008
Release Number: 

LINCOLN, Neb. -- One of the most dangerous situations following a wind storm, flood, tornado or other disaster is dealing with fuel storage tanks that have been ripped from their stands or pads.

During an inspection of a neighborhood in Douglas County near Omaha following the recent wind storms, mitigation specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) discovered several tanks containing propane or other fuels that were blown off their footings. Many were not anchored.

Each one of these tanks could be a deadly explosion waiting to happen.

Unanchored propane tanks can be easily moved by flood waters or high winds. These tanks pose serious threats not only to residents, homes and businesses but also to public safety and the environment.

Propane is stored in pressurized tanks as liquefied petroleum gas, which can be extremely volatile and potentially explosive if the tank is ruptured and the escaping gas is ignited by a spark. If an odor of leaking propane is detected near a tank you should immediately call 911.

An unanchored tank outside your house can be driven into your walls by flood waters or blown by high winds, damaging other homes.

FEMA mitigation specialists strongly urge home and business owners to make sure any fuel tanks are solidly anchored.

An inexpensive way to secure a horizontal outside propane tank is to install four ground anchors connected across the top of the tank with metal straps. A vertical tank can be secured with two ground anchors.

The ground anchors and straps used to secure these tanks are the same products required by building codes to tie down mobile homes. These products are available from suppliers and installers that service the manufactured housing industry.

Ideally, tanks should be secured on a poured concrete pad. But before beginning any project to secure a tank, it is important to consult your local building permit office and the owner of the tank or fuel provider.

FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with State and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and other first responders.

Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:30