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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.106(b)(1)(i); 1910.106(a)(18)(ii)(b)

August 30, 2001

Mr. Jeffrey Wagenbach
Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti LLP
HeadQuarters Plaza
One Speedwell Avenue
P.O. Box 1981
Morristown, NJ 07962-1981

Dear Mr. Wagenbach:

Thank you for your December 21, 2000 letter to Richard E. Fairfax, Director, Directorate of Compliance Programs (DCP), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence. You requested guidance on the use of aboveground storage tanks under OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.106, Flammable and Combustible Liquids.

Scenario: A 500 gallon above-ground tank made of polyethylene was used for temporary storage of PCB-contaminated mineral oil having a specific gravity less than 1 and a liquid temperature above 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The aboveground tank was placed on a concrete pad, and bermed on four (4) sides by sealed concrete block. It was also located within a metal shed to protect the unit from the elements.

Question 1: Does the storage of PCB mineral oil with a flashpoint at or above 200 degrees Fahrenheit (class IIIB) in a 500 gallon polyethylene above-ground tank designed to specifications embodying principles recognized as good engineering design for polyethylene, and additionally protected as described above, comply with 29 CFR Section 1910.106?

Reply: If the liquid being stored is Class IIIB, it is not covered by the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.106. See 1910.106(a)(18)(ii)(b)

Question 2: Regardless of the use of the tank, does a 500 gallon above-ground polyethylene tank that is designed to specifications embodying good engineering design for polyethylene fall within one of the exceptions to 29 CFR section 1910.106(b) found at paragraphs (b)(1)(i)(b) to (e)?

Reply: 29 CFR 1910.106(b)(1)(i)(a) establishes the general requirement that storage tanks be built of steel. Pursuant to 1910.106(b)(1)(i)(b), however, tanks may be built of materials other than steel in either of two situations: (1) if the tank is installed underground or (2) if the nature of the material stored makes steel unsuitable. If the use of a material other than steel is allowed by 29 CFR 1910.106(b)(1)(i)(b), there is then an additional requirement, at 29 CFR 1910.106(b)(1)(i)(c), that the tank be designed to specifications embodying principles recognized as good engineering design for the material used. In other words, the terms of both (b) and (c) must be met. Finally, 1910.106(b)(1)(i)(b) also requires that non-steel tanks located above ground or in buildings be of noncombustible construction. A polyethylene tank that would melt and burn in the presence of a flame would not meet this requirement.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprized of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-1850.


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs

cc: Regional Administrator, Region II

Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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