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Old 25-12-2017, 05:38   #1
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Diesel in water tanks.

Hey guys, so a few weeks ago one of the shipwrights put 20l of diesel into my water tanks (long story but no fault of his) I was wondering Can I just clean my tanks or am I going to have to replace the contaminated tanks.
I have isolated the tank that has fuel in it, but can it be cleaned and used again or is it dead?
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Old 25-12-2017, 13:12   #2
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

Try to remove the diesel by adding more water to the tank and collecting the diesel from the top.
This way you coat less of the inside with fuel.
Your chances of cleaning the tank will be dependent on how many access ports in the tank.

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Old 25-12-2017, 13:30   #3
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

Since diesel and other fuel tanks are routinely cleaned down to bare metal before vessels or tanks are scrapped, it obviously can be done. Whether you can do it depends on the access you have to the interior of the tank. And any valves or plumbing that might have gotten contaminated.

Live steam and good detergent are the best ways to get all of it out, and then of course you need to dispose of the washwater in the "waste oil" or other recycling tank.
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Old 25-12-2017, 14:40   #4
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

Depends. Is the tank steel, aluminum or fiberglass?

If fiberglass you may be screwed. Metal tanks you can steam clean or use an appropriate solvent. Fiberglass the diesel soaks into the material and could be difficult to impossible to get that last little bit of diesel smell out. Best technique I've found for getting diesel small out of something porous is soaking for weeks and weeks. Drain, clean, soak again.
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Old 25-12-2017, 15:05   #5
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

Happened to my Brother years ago. Dawn dishwashing liquid and a half tank of water and rough water, flush out forever with a hose and repeat. However years later we thought we could still smell and taste the fuel,
but that was probably in our head, cause guests never commented
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Old 25-12-2017, 15:13   #6
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

Try searching through the archives

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ank-69715.html
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Old 26-12-2017, 03:57   #7
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
However years later we thought we could still smell and taste the fuel, but that was probably in our head, cause guests never commented
No, you just had polite guests.
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Old 26-12-2017, 09:20   #8
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
No, you just had polite guests.
My thoughts exactly. Had Christmas with my sister. Her water tasted like a swimming pool. I said nothing and stuck to wine. Found out next day they had added extra chlorine to flush out a "taste".
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Old 26-12-2017, 09:21   #9
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

No real advice here, just a story. Many years ago we chartered a boat in Greece. Next to us the staff was cleaning a water tank that was contaminated with diesel. When we returned after two weeks, they were still working on the problem☺
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Old 26-12-2017, 09:36   #10
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

It's going to be hard to get that smell/ taste out of the tank for sure. Hell, it's hard to get it out of a boat that had a diesel leak and the fumes permeated the fabrics , wood etc.. But try the dishwash liquid idea and sailing in rough water. Trouble is, as you drain it, the floating oil coats every surface inside the tank as the water goes down. Pressure wash it with detergent after that. Replace all hoses. Good luck.
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Old 26-12-2017, 10:08   #11
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

The most difficult aspect of cleaning diesel out of a water tank are the baffles within the tank. This is especially true if you have only one inspection port as most tanks do.

Filling the tank with more water and removing the diesel from the top is the best advice. If the water and diesel have combined, using a wet-vac and dish soap is a good method If you are able to access every compartment of the tank. Removing the fill hose and cleaning this separately is a good practice.

Once the majority of the fuel has been removed, pressure washing with hot water and detergent is a good start. Adding new inspection ports is often necessary.

Steam cleaning below decks is untenable. Within seconds the interior of your boat will be so filled with steam that visibility will be zero and breathing difficult.

Flushing and scrubbing is your best bet. Once the bulk of the fuel has been removed from the surface of the existing water, every inch of the tank must be scrubbed and rinced repeatedly. Adding one or more inline charcoal filters after you’ve thoroughly cleaned the tank will help.
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Old 26-12-2017, 10:31   #12
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

Unfortunately, a large fraction of diesel fuel is soluble in water. Consequently, no amount of flushing can remove all the fuel below drinking water standards. The best one can hope for with simply flushing numerous times is to create the appearance of efficacy.

Similarly, steam cleaning serves only to create the feeling of doing something effective.

For metal tanks, physical means of scrubbing serves little purpose as the fuel can't permeate the tank walls and any residual fuel will quickly solubalize in water. For glass tanks, you are just 're-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic' by trying anything.

The only effective means of cleaning is to promote degradation and aeration of the tank to remove volatile components of the residual fuel. While difficult and sometimes impractical, this is the only way of assuring complete cleaning.
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Old 26-12-2017, 10:47   #13
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

Sounds like you have significantly increased the storage capacity for diesel on the boat, so make it a diesel tank and find another space for water.

I had a diving compressor badly contaminate a dive cylinder. I sat in the bath with handfulls of copper coins and washing up liquid rolling the coins around. it worked eventually.

However, a feather sleeping bag with diesel on it was beyond help despite a week of cleaning.

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Old 26-12-2017, 12:08   #14
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

Put a large RV style activated charcoal filter on the line coming out of the tank. They are designed to remove all organic hydrocarbons from the water. My guess is it will remove the last of the little bit of taste after cleaning in accordance with the above advice. (Also mentioned by Seasick above, I'm repeating).
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Old 26-12-2017, 12:47   #15
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Re: Diesel in water tanks.

We accidentally put about 8 gallons of diesel into our 34 gallon water tank last summer. We isolated the tank opened the inspection port and hand pumped the fuel and water out. Ran a little water in and flushed out the fill hose and pumped that out by hand. We then shocked the tank twice using chlorine used to shock swimming pools. Each time pumping out by hand, not running it thru the water system on the boat. The third time we shocked using less concentration of chlorine and ran it through the system. Worked great. No taste or smell of fuel.
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