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August 5, 2021

Fuel Storage Permitting in Jamaica: Risks and Process

A fuel storage facility is defined by the NWA Developer’s and Investment Manual, Volume 2: Section 1 as one or more stationary tanks along with accompanying fixtures, pipelines or other equipment. This facility may include underground tanks, above grounds tanks, or both. To construct and operate these facilities, Environmental Permits and in some cases permits from the local municipal council are required. CEAC Solutions has completed the application process for acquiring these permits for many projects, including the permitting of fuel storage and dispensing facilities at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) Portmore and Rockfort Depots, as well as for the COCL Incinerator facility.

The permitting process can vary depending on the state of the facility, whether it be existing, new or to be upgraded. In all scenarios, as stipulated in the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Guidelines, an environmental permit is required from the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) once the underground storage tanks (USTs) exceed a capacity of 1,100 gallons, once above-ground storage tanks (ASTs) exceed a capacity of 880 gallons, and once liquid petroleum gas tanks (LPG) exceed a capacity of 660 gallons. The proposed installation of fuel storage tanks also requires approval from the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) and a permit from the local municipal council. The facility should be constructed to comply with the International Fire Code (IFC) and relevant National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards to ensure the facility is safe. The relevant documentation required for the process includes existing or proposed layout drawings of the facility, a project brief, emergency response plan and closure plan. A site visit is required by the JFB, particularly if the facility is existing, to ensure it is up to standard.

For the proposed installation of underground storage tanks, NEPA requires that they are double-walled, while above-ground tanks should be designed contained in protective bunds. Bunds should be designed to contain a minimum 110 per cent capacity of the storage tanks’ total volume. They should be impervious and strong enough to contain the fuel and the mass of the tanks installed. CEAC utilized ELPLA in the floor slab design and analysis for the JUTC Portmore Depot’s protective bund. This program utilized the soil properties and potential loads to be applied by the tanks while full, to determine the required slab reinforcement size and spacing and areas of settlement.

The difficulty with the permitting process is the time it takes for the application to be processed by the various regulatory bodies. It typically takes three (3) months for the application process to be completed with NEPA, while the time varies with the JFB and the municipal council. It is recommended that contact is made with each government body a soon as possible to determine the way forward in permitting and that continuous follow up is done or that CEAC is commissioned to carry out the process.

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