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Old 10-19-2015, 07:38 AM   #1
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Diesel in drinking water tank

Please don't ask how it got there Maybe 20l diesel in a 100l tank with 50 liters water. .Will be pumping the tank out tomorrow into drums but need advice on how to clean the Stainless Steel tank to remove any residue and smell.
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Old 10-19-2015, 07:57 AM   #2
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Joy dish soap cuts diesel. I have used Joy for 20+ years. Always have a sprey bottle mixed ready to use.
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Old 10-19-2015, 08:12 AM   #3
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Baking soda is one of many degreasers used by yards for this not uncommon event. BTW I put red duct tape on my fuel fills after each fill up. If I went a step further I'd put blue on the water fills.
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Old 10-19-2015, 09:00 AM   #4
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Joy dish soap cuts diesel.
So does Dawn. I keep a small squirt bottle of the stuff in my hip pocket every time I refuel for those ummmm.... times when you need it
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:03 AM   #5
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I'd try to take advantage of the 50l of water in the tank. The diesel is floating on top of the water and has not yet contaminated your piping and pump.

If your fill line is straight enough to get a hose into the tank from the deck fill beg, borrow or steal a pump that does not mind running dry.

- Lower the suction line to near the top of the fluid and start the pump

- "Chase" the diesel down sucking just enough air to know you are right at the surface of the liquid until the outflow is mostly water

- Get the necessary fittings ready including a valve

- Disconnect the piping / hose as close to the tank as possible and hook up the temporary valve and fittings. You should be able to work fast enough to get only water in the bilge.

- Pump the remaining liquid, mostly water by now out.

The mess is now contained in the water tank, the rest of your potable water system is clean.

- Put a slug of your favorite dish soap in the tank.

- Slowly add HOT water to the tank. If you can back fill from the temporary fittings. Hot water really does make a difference. Filling slowly will give the soap a chance to loosen the coating clinging to the tank sides. Don't fill to the top of the tank, emulsified diesel clinging to the top will be very difficult to remove.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Nope, I've never tried this technique on a water tank. Just thinking it through. It's a variation on the theme of cleaning hundreds of gallons of diesel out of the bilge following a piping failure.
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:26 AM   #6
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Baking soda is one of many degreasers used by yards for this not uncommon event. BTW I put red duct tape on my fuel fills after each fill up. If I went a step further I'd put blue on the water fills.
Just paint the caps red and blue.
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:34 AM   #7
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And paint the waste tank cap black.
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:39 AM   #8
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Does tank have a cleanout plate on top? If not, it might be a good time to add one. Cut a circular hole and put in a plastic deck cap.
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:41 AM   #9
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Just paint the caps red and blue.
Simple alternative you suggest, I like to block the slot.
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:44 AM   #10
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I put a female hose fitting on my boat that goes to a pressure reducer and then a filter and finally to my water tanks. I plumed an overboard hose for the overfill. It works great for me and it's fool proof.

I know you are thinking you can save that tank. Diesel is very toxic. I can't imagine drinking out of a fuel tank but for me, I'd change the tank. Sorry.

If you don't change it, after multiple cleansing I'd send a sample to a lab for testing before I showered, cooked and drank from the tank. especially of you raise the water table to the top of the tank where it's horizontal, that will be hard to clean off, I think. Hopefully you have a large inspection plate so you can get a brush and scrub what you can.

Good luck and stay healthy.
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:45 AM   #11
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Please don't ask how it got there.
Um, we do not have to ask. We already know, or at least know with about a 99% probability of being right anyway.
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:54 AM   #12
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I'd send a sample to a lab for testing
After multiple rinses with various cleaners, this is quite simple to do. Ask your local municipality who they use and send sample of tank filling water and water from boat taps Dollars to doughnuts the results will be the same as the hose doing the filling.


PS -- Drain your tank to the bilge, not through the plumbing.
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Old 10-19-2015, 11:36 AM   #13
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And...once you get it cleaned out I would add an activated charcoal filter to absorb any residual hydrocarbons, if you do not already have one inline.
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Old 10-19-2015, 11:37 AM   #14
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Please don't ask how it got there Maybe 20l diesel in a 100l tank with 50 liters water. .Will be pumping the tank out tomorrow into drums but need advice on how to clean the Stainless Steel tank to remove any residue and smell.

Been there. Done that. Luckily my aft tank was full and the handle triggered off after a few gallons. As Ski mentioned- I had an inspection plate on the 100 gallon SS aft tank and DID NOT run any water through the lines. I used a wet/ dry vacuum to remove virtually all of the diesel (I obviously didn't blow up )before emptying the tank and proceeding. Someone better than me at searching the archives might be able to provide a link to the original post that it was part of???


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Old 10-19-2015, 01:57 PM   #15
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Been there too. But the yard did it, not me.

Thread here: Aaaargh!
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Old 10-20-2015, 02:03 AM   #16
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Do get the water checked after cleaning it and not just before drinking it, before showering as well.
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Old 10-20-2015, 07:06 AM   #17
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Once you get as much diesel out and add the Joy or Dawn , use an air hose to make the water bubble so the detergent can act on more of it.

I would then flush constantly with detergent and letting the tank overflow out to the deck.

Oil floats on water , so up & out overnight might help.
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Old 12-31-2015, 04:02 PM   #18
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On aircraft carriers we use Dawn by the 55 gallon drum to degrease/deoil tanks in preps for painting. We have tested every product on the market in the lab, and Dawn is the best. Barry
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Old 12-31-2015, 04:08 PM   #19
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If there is a low tank connection I would also hookup low flow low pressure air to sparge the tank after filling up with a water/Dawn solution. Barry
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Old 12-31-2015, 04:10 PM   #20
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On aircraft carriers we use Dawn by the 55 gallon drum to degrease/deoil tanks in preps for painting. We have tested every product on the market in the lab, and Dawn is the best. Barry


We are unable to purchase Dawn in Australia its the only dish-washing detergent to have ever been removed from sale in Australia. It was also one of the best sellers right to the day it was removed from sale ???
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