Hambantota Fuel Storage Facility Defects
By Camelia Nathaniel
The UNP parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake raised the issue of the Hambantota Port SLPA Aviation Fuel Tank farm site in parliament last Friday subsequent to the visit to the site by a group of UNP members on the July 10, 2014.
He revealed some of the observations on the prevailing condition of the facility, before taking over by the CPC. According to the report, continuous ground settlements in excess of more than 400 mm have been observed at locations where piling has not been done. The UNP team observed defects due to continuous ground settlement will continue to grow, until a permanent solution for the ground settling is identified through a consultant and implemented. They strongly emphasized that this Aviation fuel storage tank farm constructed by the SLPA is far below the acceptable industry standards and even by physical appearance.
It is a fact that any Aviation fuel storage and handling facility conform to the most stringent requirements of JIG, API, NFPA and other international standards due to the most critical nature of this industry, which has not been adopted in the design and construction of this facility.
Karunanayake said that a typical example of a dislocated pipe support at the Hambantota Aviation tank farm was seen on July 10, 2014 by them, due to continuous ground settlement. He said that temporary arrangements have been made by the SLPA/Contractor in the past on several occasions by increasing the height of the concrete support and using metal plates. However a small gap is still visible due to subsequent settlements. The team had also observed that the pipelines are hanging on to the tank nozzle and shell, over stressing the piping and tank shell, which will have severe consequences in the long run paving the way for a catastrophic failure.
The team had also observed that after a detail assessment and evaluation, the total facility constructed by the SLPA is not in a suitable condition for the usage by CPC for the storage and handling for JetA1 without finding proper and permanent remedies to the continuous ground settlement and defects present at every location in the facility as clearly shown by photographic evidence taken by them during their visit to the facility. Karunanayake said that the CPC will never be able to obtain JIG approval and concurrence to operate this facility for Jet A1 as an intermediate storage terminal in the future, without proper rectification which is doubtful.
“However in the meeting it was mentioned that the SLPA will hand over this sub standard Jet A1 import and storage facility at the Hambantota port to the CPC in the near future in the same condition. We have been highly embarrassed as professional Engineers who have successfully completed the Aviation Refueling Terminal at the MRIA, to be a World class facility and a valuable asset for the CPC, by assigning the responsibility to make assessment and recommendations for a facility nowhere comparable to the CPC constructed facility,” he added.
Karunanayake further stated that it was mentioned in the meeting by SLPA, that as per the agreement with the contractor, all the defects will be rectified by the contractor before the 18th of July 2014 except for implementing a permanent solution to the ground settling problem. “However as per our observations it is not possible to rectify all the defects within such a short period and also without solving the ground settling issue which contributes for most of the defects.
There is no point in repairing it as it will only be a temporary solution. It was also mentioned in the meeting that the contractor has been given until the end of November 2014 to find and implement a permanent solution to the continuous ground settling problem. However the SLPA representative stated that an assurance cannot be given to the CPC that ground settling will not continue after that.”
He said that the CPC suggested to monitor the ground settlement until November 2014, weekly with 20 reference points to see the level of settlement. SLPA agreed to this and the CPC agreed to inspect and get the readings with SLPA.
Meanwhile the CPC officials informed that the soil layer underneath the concrete may have been washed away as the man hole within the yard had sunk. Therefore the CPC suggested to perform a load test at the site, to which the SLPA agreed.
Since the Hambatota port has been constructed at a strategic location close to international shipping routes, to have a properly built and operated Jet A1 storage facility conforming to international standards is very advantages economically consistent with refueling operations at the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport.
“We sincerely believe that SLPA should take immediate action to find a permanent solutions to the prevailing conditions. We forwarded our observations with pictures as proof with our sincere engineering comments, for the consideration by the Management of the CPC when taking a decision for taking over of this facility by CPC for operation in the future,” said Karunanayake.