Every year there are more than 3,000 major oil and fuel spills – an average of more than eight per day – and those are just the ones we know about. Many more aren’t reported to the authorities.
At RPM Fuels, we are a leading supplier of oil storage tanks throughout the UK. Here, we look at the rules and regulations which currently apply in this area, what happens when the rules aren’t followed – and how our quality, competitively-priced steel and plastic tanks can help reduce the risk of costly spillages.
Spillages into rivers from oil tanks particularly can result in damage to wildlife, which even these days are still common in the UK.
For example, in February 2018 the River Lea in north-east London saw a large spill of used engine oil which affected several miles of the river. Many swans and other birds were covered in what was believed to be engine oil. Local boat owners, residents and tourists reported breathing in thick, acrid fumes.
And in October, more swans had to be rescued from a lake in Telford, Shropshire, after getting covered in oil.
Regulations governing safe storage are set down by OFTEC, the Oil Firing Technical Association, which is the official trade body for the UK’s oil heating industry. The rules are more stringent if your storage facility is located close to water.
For instance, bunded tanks – a tank within a tank – are mandatory if you are close to a river or lake. And single-skin tanks should not be installed within 10 metres of a water source or less than 50 metres from a well.
Oil storage tanks are covered by the Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) regulations of 2001. Tanks also need to meet the requirements of BS EN ISO 9001.
And householders with domestic oil tanks must be careful as well. These types of tanks need to obey local building regulations, and they should be installed by technicians who are recognised as ‘competent’ by the industry.
If you operate a commercial or private refuelling facility which has a leak, you could be prosecuted by the Environment Agency. Penalties can either be a heavy fine, or, in extreme cases, a prison sentence. And there is also the cost of cleaning it all up – the average cost has been put at around £40,000.
If you are a homeowner, you could face substantial financial penalties too, as any leaks from a domestic oil tank may not be covered by your insurance policy. The Government recommends householders regularly inspect their tanks to check for any signs of wear or corrosion which could lead to a leak or spillage.
Even if your oil or fuel tank is structurally sound there may still be safety issues. For instance, when a tank is dispensing oil, or new fuel is being delivered, spillages can occur. Delivery or fill pipes, for instance, may not be connected correctly. Tanks are now required to have contents gauges to eliminate the possibility of an overflow.
Sometimes, thieves may try to steal your valuable fuel and there may be a leak when they start siphoning it off. Companies can still be held liable for spills if vandals have damaged your tank, as you need to prove you had adequate security measures in place.
At RPM Fuels, we supply a wide range of plastic and steel oil storage tanks which are fully in line with all the latest safety regulations and come with manufacturers’ guarantees. We also stock a complete range of fuel tank equipment and accessories, including lockable fill point caps and contents gauges, lessening the risk of overflows and theft.
Our range of pollution prevention products includes 20 litre and 50 litre spill kits, which come with fuel absorbent pads to mop up any oil which has leaked out of your tank. We also supply spill containment trays and pallets, which are particularly useful in the agricultural and plant industries. If you would like to learn more about any of our plastic or steel tanks for water, fuel or oil storage, click here.
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