Diesel fuel is highly flammable, so there are many rules in place to safeguard the public from dangerous spills and explosions. OSHA, the DOT and EPA all regulate how a consumer or business should store diesel fuel in the right containers as well as the ways to safely transport the material.
To store or transport diesel fuel in the United States, you need to follow certain safety regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stipulate rules and regulations for storing and handling diesel fuel.
Diesel has a flash point (the minimum temperature at which a liquid emits an ignitable vapor) of 205 degrees Fahrenheit or less, meaning the fuel classifies as highly combustible or inflammable. Because of this, these government agencies have defined a variety of rules to ensure the safe storage and transportation of diesel fuel as a highly flammable liquid.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Diesel fuel container regulations are put in place by various government agencies to protect the public from a highly-flammable liquid. Using the right type and color container as well as transporting diesel properly will help prevent accidents and costly citations.
Consumer Diesel Fuel Storage Rules
If you are a consumer and want to store or transport small quantities of diesel fuel, it must be in an approved container. According to DOT rules, you may store and transport diesel fuel only in a container that is made from certain materials. These include aluminum, Teflon, steel, fluorinated polypropylene and fluorinated polyethylene. Storage materials you should avoid include tin, copper, lead, zinc and brass.
Your diesel fuel container color matters as well. A portable diesel fuel container is yellow in color to distinguish it from regular gas (red) and kerosene (blue). You can purchase a yellow jerry can that meets diesel container regulations which will hold anywhere from 5 to 20 liters of fuel and come equipped with a spout to prevent spills.
Storing Large Quantities of Diesel Fuel
If you need to store larger quantities of diesel fuel, such as for a gas station or industrial use, you will be subject regulations from OSHA, the EPA and the DOT. According to OSHA, a business must store inflammable liquids such as diesel fuel in appropriate containers that are secure and away from other hazards. The containers can be made of metal, plastic or glass and must remain away from other sources of heat or areas that can accumulate fumes.
The EPA regulates both above-ground and underground storage tanks of a certain size, such as the kind you will find at refineries and fueling stations. Since there is the potential for leakage, you must notify federal, state, and local authorities if you are storing more than 1,100 gallons of fuel. Above-ground tanks must be at least 50 feet away from a building and be painted white to minimize environmental heat absorption.
The DOT also regulates the marking, construction, testing and mounting of diesel fuel containers. For example, individuals who transport 1,000 gallons or more of diesel fuel need a hazardous materials endorsement for their commercial driver's license. All liquid fuel tanks must also have proper vent caps.
There are also requirements that the fuel containers be inspected monthly for any signs of deterioration or the presence of water inside the container. Vents and safety equipment should also be inspected.
Universal Diesel Fuel Container Regulations
Whether you are transporting or storing diesel fuel for personal or commercial purposes, there are six types of permissible containers according to OSHA and the DOT:
- Metal drums less than 60 gallons that are to DOT specifications;
- Plastic drums less than 60 gallons that are to DOT specifications;
- Metal containers that are five gallons or less;
- Approved safety cans less than five gallons;
- Approved plastic and polyethylene containers; and
- DOT specification combined packages, also called POP packaging.
These containers are classified and labeled as Class IA; IB; IC; II and III. Their sizes range between one and 660 gallons, and the container's material will vary.
- United States Department of Transportation: FMCSA: Regulations Section § 393.67: Liquid fuel tanks
- University of Washington: Flashpoint and Autoignition Temperatures of Common Vehicle Fluids
- U.S. States Department of Labor: Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Regulations (Standards - 29 CFR)
- U.S. Department of Energy: Alternative Fuels Data Center: Biodiesel Blends
- State of Indiana: Biodiesel Fact Sheet
- Environmental Protection Agency: Underground Storage Tanks (USTs): Learn About Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)
- Purdue University: Aboveground Petroleum Tanks