Christensen Oil Complaint #1 – No Permits for New Oil Storage Tank

In July, 2019, the Maeser Neighborhood complained that Christensen Oil had installed an oil storage tank without a permit. Construction permits for oil tanks are required by the International Fire Code, and have been required in Utah since at least 1997.  

On investigation, the Fire Department replied that a permit may not be needed, due to a Summary Judgement awarded Christensen in 2000.  

Later, the Fire Department reported that the tank contains urea, not oil.  It is unclear whether the tank ever contained oil.  

Also, our complaints of section 5704.2.9 were made in error, and do not apply to this particular tank.

Original Complaint:
Christensen Oil Co. added a new oil storage tank sometime in 2017 or 2018. It is about 20′ tall and 9′ diameter, 1200 cubic feet, or 9000 gallons. It is in the NE corner of the other vertical storage tanks near the intersection of 300 E and 600 S. We understand that no construction permit was obtained for this tank, nor is there an operating permit on file for this tank. Nor is there a Conditional Use Permit for a bulk petroleum storage tank in a Light Manufacturing zone.

Christensen Oil Co. President Todd Christensen has personally testified to neighborhood residents that he does not need to obtain permits to install tanks. We believe he has also testified to city code enforcement officials that he does not need permits to install tanks.

Photo 2. 15 fuel storage “silos” in 2017 Photo 3. 16 fuel storage silos in 2018. In May, 2019, Christensen Oil applied for a building permit to add additional oil tanks. The design for these tanks was found to be deficient in several aspects of the 2015 Fire Code. Given that President Todd Christensen believes he is exempt from some or many of the statues of International Fire Code, he has recently applied for a permit to build oil tanks that are in violation of fire code, we are concerned that this tank may have many fire code violations, in the construction, seismic reinforcement, piping, or other elements.

Violations: 105.1.1 Permit Required. Permits required for installing or modifying systems and equipment that are regulated by this code. Flammable and combustible liquids. A construction permit is required… to install, construct, or alter…. tanks.

Photo 4. Dispensing piping for tank 16 does not have vehicle crash protection. This tank needs to be reviewed for all statutes of 5704.2.9, including

5704.2.7 Design, fabrication and construction of tanks – does this tank meet the basic parameters set here?

5704. Fire protection of supports – does it have fire protection?

5704. distances from other tanks

5704. needs to be in spacing compliance with NFPA Table

5704. Normal and emergency venting

5704. Secondary containment

5704. Crash protection required at dispensing stations

5704. Overfill protection

5704. Pipe fill connections (appears to use “grandfathered” pipe connections – needs
to be upgraded for a new tank!)

5704. Top openings – this tank appear to fill and drain through the bottom. Must be modified to fill and drain through the top

5704.2.10 Diking capacity – does the “berm” around the tank and adjacent tanks contain
enough capacity to contain a spill from this tank?

Provo City Code 14.36.040.(3)(a), Adding additional oil storage tanks is also a violation of Provo City Code which governs whether nonconforming uses may be expanded.

Requires Conditional Use Permit, requires Certification of Occupancy, and Final Inspection from the authority having jurisdiction.

In the absence of permits and zoning, this tank should be removed.
a) Determine if this tank was installed without a permit, and whether it passes the visually
verifiable code requirements: piping from top, crash protection at dispensing station, minimum size retention facility for tank rupture, minimum standards for spill retention and keeping out of adjacent storm sewers or waterways.

b) If it fails any of the visually verifiable code requirements, then red tag it and have it taken out of service while a full engineering assessment is performed.

c) Levy a monthly fine, from the date of original violation, if this tank is found to be in violation of fire or zoning code and is not immediately taken out of service.

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