Regular checks to ensure safety at gas stations
The roadworthiness of a vehicle is a basic precondition for its safe use on the roads. With this in mind, road users must also ensure that their vehicles do not come to a standstill because they have run out of gas and, in so doing, became a road hazard. Filling up with gas is a routine task when you run a vehicle. Hardly anyone even considers that fact that even the refueling process itself and running a gas station are not uncritical when it comes to safety. Gas stations are facilities subject to mandatory inspection and, in Germany and many other countries, must be regularly inspected in accordance with various areas of law, for example by expert organizations such as DEKRA.
During inspection of the fire and explosion safety of a gas station, for example, the electrical systems and all gas pumps are checked to ensure that they are safe and function properly and all pipelines and storage tanks are checked to ensure that they are leak-tight. Every gas station must also have a liquid-tight driving surface to prevent land pollution. The drainage channels for this driving surface are routed via a separator system. The condition of the filling area and separator must therefore also be regularly checked – after all, gas stations hold an average of more than 100,000 liters of fuel, so just imagine what would happen if the groundwater were to become contaminated as a result of a leak. The risk of explosion cannot be underestimated, either – gasoline is a highly flammable liquid that vaporizes even well below room temperature, creating a potentially explosive atmosphere. Vapor recovery ensures that vehicles can be refueled with gasoline safely and without odor as far as this is possible. Gas pump nozzles are therefore fitted with a suction mechanism that, during refueling, returns the fuel vapors from the vehicle tank to the underground storage tank. This equipment, too, must also be inspected in accordance with the German Federal Immission Control Act.
Further requirements arise from the fact that more and more gaseous fuels are now available. Germany currently has around 6,000 natural gas fueling stations, most of which are located on the same premises as conventional gas stations offering gasoline and diesel. Special attention must be paid to the safety-relevant interaction of these completely different fuel types.