Environment Agency Urges Homeowners and Householders To Check Their Tanks

7th October 2006
With the arrival of autumn and cooler weather the Environment Agency in England and Wales is reminding over a million householders who use oil systems to heat their homes, to thoroughly check their oil storage tanks before they top up for the winter.
When stored responsibly, oil is a clean and environmentally responsible fuel choice. However, leaking oil can contaminate the ground, kill plants, harm wildlife and smell strongly for weeks. At worst it can pollute rivers and contaminate water supplies. There is also a risk of oil leaking into a neighbouring property which can lead to expensive clean-up bills and possible litigation. Such events are not always covered by home insurance.
"Each year the Environment Agency deals with about 4,000 oil incidents and a substantial number of these are due to leaks and spills from domestic storage tanks." said the Environment Agency’s Richard Martin. The Environment Agency suggests that householders take the following steps:
  • Check the condition of your tank at regular intervals paying particular attention to any corrosion on metal tanks, especially around the supports. Take time to check filters and couplings on pipes and get them professionally repaired without delay if they are dripping.
  • Have your boiler, tank, ancillary equipment and all pipework checked by a competent technician each year.
  • Always supervise fuel deliveries. Discuss delivery procedures with your fuel delivery company, check they are happy with your tank in terms of health and safety and pollution prevention.
  • Where a sight gauge may be fitted, make sure it is secure and the valve is kept closed. Every year tens of thousands of pounds of damage are caused after sight gauges become dislodged or are vandalised.
  • Always double-check tank contents before ordering. If you have a dial gauge is it working?
  • Keep a close eye on your oil usage. If it seems excessive you might have a leak, particularly if you have underground pipes.
  • Check your home insurance policy - you may not be covered for loss of oil or pollution clean-up costs.
  • Reduce pollution risk by siting fuel tanks and pipework as far away from drains, streams and ponds as possible.
  • Provide secondary containment for your tank. Serious consideration should be given to fitting a bunded tank.
  • Have an oil spill kit with absorbent materials, drain blockers and leak sealing putty to help you deal with a spill or leak.
In September 2005 a new set of rules came into force that set strict new standards for oil storage facilities. The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) Regulations apply to all existing domestic tanks over 3,500 litres (770 gallons) and most commercial and public premises.
For further information visit the Environment Agency online or call the Environment Agency on 08708 506506.

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Article Last Updated 7th October 2006
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