New Tanks and Off-Loading Stations Fuel Growth in Fort Myers

Author: 
Jodi Richards
Published in: 
November-December
2008

Soon after Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers opened its new 28-gate terminal in 2005, planning began for a new fuel facility. The result was a $6 million, three-year project designed to increase fueling capacity, efficiency and safety while updating existing facilities to evolving environmental regulations.

The ambitious project, headed by Pond & Company, combined a new jet-A tank and off-loading station with upgrades to existing tanks. Construction of a new fueling facility for ground service equipment and a pipe replacement program were also included.

The new storage tank - a 10,000-barrel/ 420,000-gallon aboveground unit - is connected to the new two-position truck off-loading station with an underground double-walled transfer pipeline.

Upgrades to two of the airport's three existing tanks were extensive. Work included API 653 inspection, sandblasting, application of new coatings, sand bedding replacement, installation of new tank liner and leak detection piping and upgrades to delivery piping and valves.

The airport's new facility for fueling ground service equipment includes two aboveground storage tanks (separate 10,000-gallon vessels for diesel and unleaded gasoline), off-loading pumps, a card reader system, a secondary containment pad, concrete drive and loading/off-loading areas, a security camera and wireless communication with the remote tank farm facility.

Up & Adam

The final phase of the project - a wide-scale piping upgrade - is expected to be complete by the end of 2009. Underground fuel piping is being replaced with aboveground single-walled piping to comply with state environmental regulations with a 2010 deadline.

"From an environmental standpoint, it's much easier to detect leaks with aboveground piping, and you do not need monitoring wells or cathodic protection," explains Renee Kwiat, environmental compliance project coordinator with the Lee County Port Authority.

The airport's existing storage tanks also got a temporary lift. All three were raised 6 feet off the ground to be serviced and upgraded to meet Florida regulations.

"(This) allowed us to go in underneath and upgrade the foundation to include secondary containment and cathodic protection," explains Dan Flessas, fuels program manager for Pond.

The clearance allowed crews to inspect the bottom side of the tanks - a departure, Flessas says, from the conventional industry practice of working inside the tank which yielded distinct time and cost advantages.

Meeting or exceeding state environmental regulations was critical for all involved with the project, says Jeff Meier, vice president of aviation and fuel services for Pond. "It was a big initiative to stay in compliance with the regulations," he notes.

"(Lee County Port Authority) went above and beyond in many cases to make sure there's no chance for a release of fuel into the environment," adds Flessas. "They wanted to make sure they had the latest state-of-the-art at this site."

According to Kwiat, the airline consortium (which leases the fueling facility) and Swissport Fueling (which operates it) were both "very proactive" and forward thinking regarding the environmental aspects of the facility.

Keep it Flowing

With about 62 million gallons of fuel flowing annually, phasing and scheduling were crucial to avoid disruption to airport operations. Pond worked closely with airport and Port Authority officials, Swissport, members of the fuel consortium (headed by Delta Airlines), the South Florida Water Management District and the Tallahassee Environmental Protection Department.

"Our design had to keep them essentially 100 percent operational," Meier notes.

It was consequently crucial for the new tank to be in place and in working order before the other three tanks were taken out of operation, one-by-one, for service.

Three separate hurricanes threatened to compromise the carefully planned schedule. Per regulations, though, Pond had hurricane contingency plans in place before any tanks were taken out of service.

"We had one tank up in the air when one of the hurricanes was approaching," recalls Flessas. "We had to finish the work and get the tank back on its foundation and get water in it so it had a little bit of capacity and anchoring."

The Pond Method

After work is completed on fuel storage tanks, they must, by code, be filled with water to ensure they are structurally sound. Instead of using potable water from airport hydrants or other sources, water from an on-site surface pond was used at a great savings to the airport and the environment. With assistance from local regulatory agencies, crews pulled water from the pond, tested it, used the water to test the tanks, then tested it again to make sure it was environmentally safe and clean before returning it to the pond.

"We were dealing with water shortages in that part of the state, so we were really sensitive to how much water we used and what we did with it," notes Flessas.




Facts and Figures

Project:

New Fuel Facility

Location:

Southwest Florida International Airport, Fort Myers, FL

Cost:

$6 million

Design/Construction Management:

Pond & Company

Airport Owner/Operator:

Lee County Port Authority

Fuel Facility Owner:

RSW Fuel Consortium - Chair Delta Airlines

Fuel Facility Operator:

Swissport International

According to Meier, this was the first time Pond had used such an approach for hydrostatic testing. The company is now, however, incorporating the practice into its standard procedures.

A Team Effort

Representatives throughout the project roster praise the partnership between entities working on the new fueling facility.

"The key component to the success was from start to finish, we worked together as a team," notes Dan Liss, asset integrity engineer of Swissport.

James Furiosi, senior manager of the maintenance department for the Lee County Port Authority, oversaw the project on behalf of the Authority. "Constant communication kept all stakeholders involved and informed," he says, commending the coordination of various agencies.

Subcategory: 
Fuel Operations

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