Petroleum product terminals receive bulk shipments of gasoline, middle
distillates, aviation gas, lube oil, and specialty products from
pipelines, tankers, barges, railcars, and trucks. The products are
stored in tanks and warehouses and distributed to service stations,
truck stops, and other points of use. There are approximately 1700
pipeline and petroleum product terminals in the United States.
Terminals generate wastewaters consisting primarily of tank bottom
water and stormwater runoff from product transfer areas. The various
wastewaters are treated by an oil/water separator to recover any free
product, and the treated wastewater is discharged as terminal
effluent. Often, because of geographic location, low effluent volume,
or operating limitations, the most practical disposal option for
terminal effluent will be discharge to the local publicly owned
treatment works (POTW). Effluent discharge to a POTW usually requires
a permit or agreement from the POTW, specifying conditions under which
the discharge is acceptable.
In some cases, POTWs may have significant concerns regarding the
acceptance of terminal effluent. Concerns include the following:
a. Terminal effluent may contain flammable liquids, creating an
explosion hazard in the sewers or wastewater treatment plant.
b. Treatment effluent contaminants may harm the treatment process,
hindering the treatment plant's ability to function effectively.
c. Terminal effluent contaminants may not be treatable by the
treatment plant and may thus be discharged to the environment in
d. Terminal effluent discharges may not be adequately controlled,
leading to slugs of oil, contaminants, or volume entering the sewers.
e. Terminal effluent contaminants may exposes POTW operators to health
These are important concerns for POTWs, but terminals can successfully
address them. The concerns are more logically associated with major
industrial dischargers, as opposed to petroleum product terminals,
which typically generate only small volumes of terminal effluents,
have systems in place to prevent flammable liquid discharges, and can
readily implement effective discharge controls.
This guidance document is written to assist the terminal through the
negotiations of a pretreatment discharge permit or agreement with the
local POTW. The document describes key systems at POTWs and terminals,
explains POTW concerns, and presents reasonable methods for addressing
This document is organized into seven sections addressing key issues
involved in obtaining a pretreatment discharge permit. The sections
are as follows:
a. Section I--POTW Characteristics--Explains the main components of
POTWs--the sewer system and the treatment plant. POTW performance
requirements are described, as well as operating limits, giving the
terminal an understanding of the sources of POTW concerns regarding
the acceptance of terminal effluents.
b. Section 2--Pretreatment Requirements--Discusses the pretreatment
program, which is the framework for regulating industrial discharges
to POTWs. It describes the constraints POTWs may impose on terminal
c. Section 3--Characteristics of Terminal Effluent--Describes sources
of terminal effluent and typical effluent compositions. Factors
affecting effluent volume and contaminant loading are addressed.
d. Section 4--POTW Concerns--Discusses specific concerns POTWs may
have about accepting terminal effluents. Measures for mitigating the
concerns are described.
e. Section 5--Relations with POTW Management--Guides the reader
through the discharge application process, from initial contact to
securing the permit to maintaining good relations with the POTW after
f. Section 6--Terminal Pretreatment Options--Addresses methods to
reduce terminal effluent volume and to treat the effluent to reduce
g. Section 7--Associated Costs--Outlines costs associated with
discharging terminal effluent to a POTW.
Two appendixes provide information that may be useful in preparing for
a pretreatment permit negotiation:
a. Appendix A--Mass Balance Calculations: This appendix shows how to
calculate contaminant concentrations in terminal effluent and
demonstrate the insignificant impact of the contaminants on a POTW.
b. Appendix B--Petroleum Product Terminal Wastewater Characterization
Data: This appendix summarizes available data on specific terminal
wastewaters and composite terminal effluents.
API publications may be used by anyone desiring to do so. Every effort
has been made by the Institute to assure the accuracy and reliability
of the data contained in them; however, the Institute makes no
representation, warranty, or guarantee in connection with this
publication and hereby expressly disclaims any liability or
responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use or for the
violation of any federal, state, or municipal regulation with which
this publication may conflict.
Suggested revisions are invited and should be submitted to the
director of the Manufacturing, Distribution and Marketing Department,
American Petroleum Institute, 1220 L Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
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