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Publication numberUS3890796 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 24, 1975
Filing dateDec 26, 1973
Priority dateMar 3, 1972
Publication numberUS 3890796 A, US 3890796A, US-A-3890796, US3890796 A, US3890796A
InventorsKruger Jean J, Rositto Vincent E
Original AssigneeSaid Vincent E Rossitto By Sai
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method for removing liquid contaminants from a submerged tank
US 3890796 A
Abstract
A method for forming holes in the wall of a submerged tank and removing liquid material therefrom. First and second holes are first formed in the wall of the tank wherein the first hole is positioned higher than the second hole. The holes are formed in such a manner as to prevent the liquid material from escaping the tank and contaminating a liquid body surrounding the tank. The liquid material is pumped out from one of the holes while the liquid surrounding the submerged tank enters the other of the holes. The holes are formed by using an air drill which is mounted on a spring-loaded frame within a cone-shaped housing, wherein the base of the cone-shaped housing is fastened to a side of the tank. The drill is positioned along the center line of the cone while the hole is being formed and the spring-loaded frame carries the drill away from the center line of the cone after the hole is formed, if access to the formed hole is desired.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Kruger et al.

[ June 24, 1975 [75] Inventors: Jean J. Kruger, Northport, N.Y.;

Vincent E. Rositto, 58 Higbie La., West lslip, NY. 11795 [73] Assignee: said Vincent E. Rossitto by said Jean J. Kruger [22] Filed: Dec. 26, 1973 [21] Appl. No.: 427,786

Related U.S. Application Data [62] Division of Ser. No 231,631, March 3, 1972, Pat.

4/1958 Wood et al. 137/1 10/1970 Chaney 61/465 Primary Examiner.lacob Shapiro Altorney, Agent, or Firml(irschstein, Kirschstein, Ottinger & Frank [5 7] ABSTRACT A method for forming holes in the wall of a submerged tank and removing liquid material therefrom. First and second holes are first formed in the wall of the tank wherein the first hole is positioned higher than the second hole. The holes are formed in such a manner as to prevent the liquid material from escaping the tank and contaminating a liquid body surrounding the tank. The liquid material is pumped out from one of the holes while the liquid surrounding the submerged tank enters the other of the holes. The holes are formed by using an air drill which is mounted on a spring-loaded frame within a coneshaped housing, wherein the base of the cone-shaped housing is fastened to a side of the tank. The drill is positioned along the center line of the cone while the hole is being formed and the spring-loaded frame carries the drill away from the center line of the cone after the hole is formed, if access to the formed hole is desired.

8 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures METHOD FOR REMOVING LIQUID CONTAMINANTS FROM A SUBMERGED TANK This is a division of application Ser. No. 231,631 filed Mar. 3, 1972 now U.S. Pat. No. 3.813.887.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to a method for producing a hole in a submerged tank and more particularly to a method for removing liquid contaminants from the submerged tank, while preventing the liquid contaminants from escaping into a surrounding liquid body.

2. Description of the Prior Art At the present time there are a great many sunken vessels located in bodies of water throughout the world. Many of these vessels have tanks containing fuel oil. kerosene, or something similar thereto. Some of these vessels may be tankers, freighters, or even passenger ships. Other vessels may contain herbicides.

While the value loss of much of the liquid material contained within the tanks of submerged vessels is considerable and its recovery would be desirable, there are even more important reasons to quickly recover these liquid contaminants. For example, if any of the sunken vessels located along the Continental Shelf of the United States. containing oils or herbicides or other dangerous contaminants, were to corrode to the point that these liquid contaminants would escape from a tank in any or a few of these vessels. the resultant damage would be incalculable. The beaches along the Gold Coast of Miami would become so contaminated by an oil spill that they would not be usable for a long time. even if serious efforts were made to emulsify the oil or scrape it off the beaches. The cost of cleaning up the beaches would be very high and the cost of the loss of tourist trade would be even higher.

In another example, if 50 to 100 tons of herbicides were to be released by a ship sunk on the Continental Shelf of the United States, it has been estimated that all the fish along the Eastern Seaboard would be killed, while the damaging effect of the herbicides being drawn up into the clouds and coming down in rain on crops. would be incalculable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION 1. Purpose of the Invention It is therefore an object of this invention to provide a method for recovering liquid contaminants contained within a tank of a sunken vessel.

It is another object of this invention to provide for a method for recovering liquid contaminants from a tank of a sunken vessel, while preventing the liquid contaminants from escaping into the surrounding body of water.

Other objects of the invention will in part be obvious and in part be pointed out hereinafter.

2. Brief Description of the Invention According to a broad aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of removing liquid material from a submerged tank comprising the steps of forming a first and second hole in the submerged tank, while preventing the escape of the liquid material from the tank, said first hole being positioned higher than said second hole, and pumping the liquid material out from one of said first and second holes, while liquid surrounding the submerged tank enters the other of said holes.

A feature of the invention provides that the liquid material is less dense than the surrounding liquid and the liquid material is pumped out of said first hole while the surrounding liquid enters said second hole.

Another feature of the invention provides that the liquidmaterial is more dense than the surrounding liquid and the liquid material is pumped out of said second hole while the surrounding liquid enters said first hole.

Still another feature of the invention provides that the liquid material in the submerged tank is originally in solid form. an emulsifying agent being introduced through said other hole to liquify the solid material and form the liquid material prior to pumping the liquid material out of said hole.

A further feature of the invention provides that after the step of pumping of the liquid material out of said one hole, a cleansing agent is introduced into said sunken tank through said other hole, and said cleansing agent is pumped out of said one hole to remove all traces of the liquid material to prevent contamination of the surrounding liquid.

A still further feature of the invention provides that after the step of introducing a cleansing agent into said sunken tank, a foam plastic is introduced through said other hole and into said submerged tank until the foam plastic fills the submerged tank so as to provide sufficient buoyancy for the submerged tank to raise the tank to the surface of the surrounding liquid.

Still a further feature of the invention provides that the liquid material is pumped out of the submerged tank and into a container located at the surface of the surrounding liquid.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the accompanying drawings in which are shown various possible embodiments of my invention:

FIG. 1 shows liquid material being pumped from a submerged vessel to holding tanks on the surface of a body of water;

FIG. 2 shows a plan view of a clamping ring which is welded to the side of the submerged vessel and surrounds a hole to be formed therein;

FIG. 3 shows a cutaway view of the apparatus used to produce each hole in the submerged vessel;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of the means for holding and releasing a spring loaded frame shown in FIG. 3; and

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary view of a backfill tube or lance which will pass through the gate valve shown in FIG. 3 and the formed hole and into the submerged tank for allowing the surrounding liquid to fill the submerged tank while the liquid material within the submerged tank is being pumped out through the other hole.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS A method of removing liquid contaminants from a submerged tank is generally illustrated in FIG. 1.

A sunken vessel 10 is shown resting on the inclined floor 12 of liquid body 14. Liquid body 14 could be a body of sea, lake, river or ocean water. In this example, vessel 10 can contain a submerged tank 16 which is filled with a liquid material. Although the liquid material can be something other than fuel oil, such as herbicides, etc., we will limit our discussion in this example to the liquid material being fuel oil and the liquid body being water which is of course denser than the fuel oil.

In this example, two holes are formed within a wall of submerged tank 16. Cones 18 and 20 show the location of the respective holes in the wall of tank 17. Hole 21 formed in side 22 of tank 16 at the base of cone 18 is positioned vertically higher than hole 23 formed in side 22 of tank 16 at the base of cone 20. The apparatus and technique for forming the above referred to holes will be described later on. A hose 24 has one end thereof connected to cone l8 and the other end thereof connected to a pump 26 located on a surface vessel 28. A backfill tube extends through cone 20 and lower hole 23 and into submerged tank 16. The backfill tube allows surrounding liquid from liquid body 14 to enter submerged tank 17, but prevents the liquid material within submerged tank 16 from escaping into liquid body 14. Thus as pump 26 pumps the liquid material within submerged tank 16 to surface vessel 28 and into holding tanks 32, water from liquid body 14 enters through backfill tube 30 into submerged tank 16.

It should be noted that the liquid material within tank 16 cannot be allowed to escape into and contaminate liquid body 14. Thus cone 18 (entry cone) and cone 20 (backfill cone) are so attached to side 22 of tank 16 as to prevent the escape ofany liquid material from within tank 16. Similarly, hose 24 and backfill tube 30 respectively engage cones 18 and 20 in such a manner as also to not allow the escape of liquid material from within tank 16.

In this example the liquid material which in this instance is fuel oil, is pumped through upper hole 21, while water from liquid body 14 is allowed to fill tank 16 through lower hole 23. Because water is more dense than fuel oil, the less dense fuel oil will tend to rise in the tank as the water fills the tank, and that is why, to achieve the greatest efficiency in removal of the liquid material. the fuel oil should be removed through higher hole 21. If on the other hand, the liquid material to be removed from submerged tank 16 were denser than the surrounding liquid body 14, then hose 24 would be connected to cone 20, and backfill tube 30 would be connected to cone 18, so that the denser liquid material would be pumped out of lower hole 23, while liquid from the less dense liquid body 14 would seep into tank 16 via hole 21.

After the liquid material has been pumped out of tank 16 through the higher hole 21, a cleansing or emulsifying agent can be pumped through backfill tube 30 and lower hole 23 into tank 16 and then back out of higher hole 21 to surface vessel 28 so as to remove all traces of the liquid material from the interior of tank 16. The cleansing or emulsifying agents are pumped from vessel 28 through backfill tube 30 via a suitable hosing and pumping arrangement.

The apparatus for removing the liquid material from the sunken tank can be removed from the sunken vessel after all the liquid material has been removed and the interior of the sunken tank has been cleaned. Alternatively, a plastic foam can be pumped from surface vessel 28 through a suitable hosing and pumping apparatus and then through backfill tube 30 and into tank 16 until the buoyancy of submerged vessel 10 is increased to the point that submerged vessel 10 can be raised to the surface of the liquid body 14.

If the liquid material within tank 16 were originally in solid form, it would have to first be converted to the liquid material before it could be removed from the submerged tank. Under these circumstances, a suitable liquifying or emulsifying agent would have to be introduced through backfill tube 30 and lower hole 23 and into tank 16 so as to liquify the solid matter prior to the pumping of the liquid material out of tank 16.

The apparatus for producing the upper and lower holes in the side of the submerged tank is more clearly shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. This apparatus includes hole forming means. The hole forming means further includes a drill 34 having a fly cutter 36 attached to one end thereof, and in this example the fly cutter has a 2 inch radius so as to actually cut a 4 inch diameter hole. Means for positioning fly cutter 36 against side 22 of the tank, and for retracting fly cutter 36 from the position against the tank after the hole is formed, is provided by hydraulic ram 38 which is actuated by a pump lever 40. When pump lever 40 is in a first position, ram 38 would move drill 34 and fly cutter 36 so that fly cutter 36 would bear against side 22 of the tank, and when lever 40 is placed in a second position, ram 38 would retract drill 34 and fly cutter 36 to its original position Means for rotating drill 34 and fly cutter 36 until the hole in the tank is formed is provided pneumatic motor 41 and air hoses 42 and 44. Compressed air is fed through hose 42 and exits through hose 44 so that pneumatic motor 41 is provided with sufficient force to drive drill 34 and fly cutter 36. Pneumatic motor 41 can begin to rotate drill 34 and fly cutter 36 before ram 38 forces fly cutter 36 against the side of the tank.

Means for housing the above described hole forming means, and for isolating the hole forming means from the liquid body surrounding the submerged tank, is provided by a hollow cone shaped member 46. The peaked end 47 of cone shaped member 46 contains a gate valve 48 and a sealing coupling 49. In this example gate valve 48 can have a diameter of 4 inches when opened so as to be congruent with the hole being cut in side 22 of the tank. Gate valve 48 can contain a slidable plate which is moved by lever 50 so as to open and close the valve. Sealing coupling 49 is dimensioned in shape to either sealingly engage hose 24 (shown in FIG. 1) or backfill tube 30 (shown in FIG. 5). The interior of cone 46 contains support means or rails 54 which are positioned near and parallel to the base of cone 46. A spring loaded frame 56 is slidably mounted on rails 54 and is the carriage for the hole forming means. The loading of compression spring 58 is such that frame 56 will be positioned close to end 60 of rails 54.

During the drilling operation, since it is desirable to have the drilled hole aligned with the opening in gate valve 48, means are provided for holding frame 56 in a position along the center line of cone 46 prior to and during the actual cutting of the hole in the side 22 of tank 16, and for releasing frame 56 after the forming of the hole so that frame 56 again slides towards the end 60 of rails 54 so as to provide for unobstructed entry into the drilled hole. This holding and releasing means contains an arm-locking member 62 which has a flanged end 64, wherein flanged end 64 engages catch 66, which catch is attached to frame 56 when frame 56 is to be held in position along the center line of cone 46. As shown in FIG. 4, arm-locking member 62 is pivotally attached at 68 to a bracket 70 which bracket is fastened to the interior wall of cone 46. Arm-locking member 62 is so bent that its opposite end 72 extends through an opening 74 in the wall of cone 46. Opening 74 and end 72 of arm locking member 62 are covered with a flexible sealing material 75 so as to properly seal opening 74 and end 72 from the surrounding liquid body 14. The sealing material is fastened by bolts 76 and 78 to cone 46. Normally armlocking member 62 is initially positioned to hold frame 56 along the center line of the cone prior to and during the formation of the hole in the side of the tank. After the hole has been formed. end 72 of arm locking member 62 can be pushed down either by a scuba diver or an automatically activated air pressure mechanism from the surface vessel. As end 72 of arm locking member 62 is pushed down, end 64 moves up so as to release catch 66, thereby allowing frame 56 to slide toward end 60 of rails 54.

Means for fixing and sealing the cone housing to the side ofthe tank to prevent the liquid material within the tank from escaping into the surrounding liquid body is provided by a clamping ring 80 (shown in FIG. 2) and a sealing ring 82 (shown in FIG. 3). Clamping ring 80 is fixed to the side 22 of tank 16 by either spot or continuous welding, as shown at points 84 and 86 in FIG. 3. It is preferred. however, that welds 84 and 86 be spot rather than continuous, since it would be easier to detach ring 80 from the side 22 of the tank if ring 80 were only spot welded thereto. Ring 80 has toggle clamps 88 (shown in FIGS. 2 and 3) attached to inner ring portion 90 of clamping ring 80. Toggle clamps 88 are so arranged as to force flange 92. at the base of cone 46, against sealing ring 82 so as to fix cone 46 to side 22 of tank 16 while also sealing the interior of cone 46 from the surrounding liquid body 14.

It should be noted that clamping ring 80 can be made of a suitable material such as steel, while cone 46 can be made of reinforced fiberglass. Sealing ring 80 and flexible sealing material 75 can be made of neoprene. It should also be noted that both upper hole 21 and lower hole 23 described with reference to FIG. 1 must each contain a separate set of the apparatus described in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4, wherein entry cone 1-8 has hose 24 attached to its coupling sealing 49, while backfill tube or lance 30 (shown in FIG. 5) extends through the open gate valve 48 of backfill cone and the congruent drilled hole 23. Backfill tube contains a one-way check valve 94 (shown in FIG. 5) which will allow material or liquid to flow into but not out of tank 16.

It should be also noted that while the above hole forming means was described with reference to an air operated drill. other hole forming means such as an electrically or air activated punching ram or piercing member could be used to either punch or pierce the holes in the tank.

It should be further noted that the gate valve of both the entry and backfill cones is closed while the respective holes are being formed in side 22 of tank 16, and hose 24 is placed within the sealing coupling of entry cone 18 while backfill tube is placed within the sealing coupling of backfill cone 20 before the respective gate valves are opened.

It thus is seen that there is provided a method for removing liquid contaminants from a submerged tank which achieves the several objects of the invention and is well adapted to meet the conditions of practical use.

As various possible embodiments might be made of the above invention, and as various changes might be made in the embodiments above set forth, it is to be understood that all matter herein described, or shown in the accompanying drawings. is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

Having thus described the invention what is new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:

l. A method of removing liquid material from a submerged tank comprising the steps of:

drilling a first hole and drilling a second hole in the submerged tank while the tank is submerged and while the drill and at least each area of the tank being drilled is isolated from the liquid in which the tank is submerged as such area is drilled so to prevent the liquid material in the tank from escaping. during drilling, into and contaminating the liquid surrounding the tank. said first hole being positioned higher than said second hole: and

pumping the liquid material out from one of said first and second holes, while liquid surrounding the submerged tank enters the other of said holes.

2. A method according to claim 1 wherein the drilling is performed with a fly cutter which is positioned successively against the areas and is rotated by a pneumatic motor that is energized by compressed air.

3. A method according to claim 1 wherein the liquid material is less dense than the surrounding liquid and the liquid material is pumped out of said first hole while the surrounding liquid enters said second hole.

4. A method according to claim 2 wherein the liquid material is oil and the surrounding liquid is water.

5. A method according to claim 1 wherein the liquid material is more dense than the surrounding liquid and the liquid material is pumped out of said second hole while the surrounding liquid enters said first hole.

6. A method according to claim 1 wherein the liquid material in the submerged tank is originally in solid form, comprising the additional step of introducing an emulsifying agent through said other hole to liquefy the solid material and form the liquid material prior to pumping the liquid material out of said one hole.

7. A method according to claim 1, after the step of pumping of the liquid material out of said one hole, further comprising the steps of introducing a cleansing agent into said sunken tank through said other hole, and pumping said cleansing agent out of said one hole to remove all traces of the liquid material to prevent contamination of the surrounding liquid.

8. A method according to claim 1 wherein the liquid material is pumped out of the submerged tank and into a container located at the surface of the surrounding liquid.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4284110 *Jul 23, 1979Aug 18, 1981Frances K. DivelbissApparatus for transfer of fluent materials from one container to another
US4573425 *Sep 4, 1979Mar 4, 1986Amtel, Inc.For transferring hydrocarbons
US4693284 *Jul 30, 1986Sep 15, 1987Petro Fill, Inc.Method for underground storage tank abandonment
US5775390 *Nov 30, 1994Jul 7, 1998Mohn; FrankApparatus for extraction of a fluent material from a container
US5795103 *Feb 26, 1996Aug 18, 1998Gaerlan; Doroteo C.Oil tanker and method for recovering oil from submerged oil tanker
US7377226 *Feb 25, 2005May 27, 2008Korea Ocean Research And Development InstituteRemotely controlled apparatus for recovering liquid in sunken ship and method performed by the same
US7597811Aug 17, 2007Oct 6, 2009David UsherMethod and apparatus for subsurface oil recovery using a submersible unit
USRE33434 *Feb 8, 1990Nov 13, 1990Amtel, Inc.Rapidly installable mooring and cargo system
WO1995015280A1 *Nov 30, 1994Jun 8, 1995Framo Dev LtdAn apparatus for extraction of a fluent material from a container
WO2004040957A2 *Dec 23, 2003May 21, 2004Richard J LazesSubsea oil collector
WO2005080191A1 *Feb 25, 2005Sep 1, 2005Hyek-Jin ChoiRemotely controlled apparatus for recovering liquid in sunken ship and method performed by the same
WO2013058424A1 *Oct 25, 2011Apr 25, 2013Republic Of Korea (Korea Coast Guard Comissioner)Residual oil removing apparatus combined with a drilling rig for use on a ship
Classifications
U.S. Classification405/191, 137/1, 114/50, 141/82
International ClassificationB63C7/16, B63C7/00, B63C11/52
Cooperative ClassificationB63C11/52, B63C7/006
European ClassificationB63C7/00E, B63C11/52