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Research

Integrity Modeling of Above Ground Storage Tanks in Hurricane Prone Regions


Aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) commonly used to store hazardous materials at energy production and industrial sites, have suffered major damage in past severe storms leading to spills with significant consequences.  For example, over 7 million gallons of oil was spilled in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita due to the failure of aboveground storage tanks affecting the environment and neighboring communities, and leading to significant cleanup costs. Failure of these thin walled steel structures in past storm events has been attributed primarily to flotation, buckling, or localized damage from debris. Given the significant evidence of tank vulnerability and consequences of failure, research in Dr. Padgett's group offers the first probabilistic models of tank performance under the complexities of hurricane loads. Enhanced understanding is provided regarding the plausible mechanisms leading to AST failure, and the validity of alternative structural retrofits, procedural actions, or regional protection systems for mitigating risks to tanks. Viable approaches for uncertainty treatment, imperfection modeling, and damage characterization are explored in the research. Ongoing case studies test the integrity modeling and reliability assessment methods using tank infrastructure in such regions as the Freeport, TX area or the Houston Ship Channel as shown below.

Seismic Risk Assessment ATS