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Oil Storage Regulations

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The final phase of the Environment Agency Oil Storage Regulations came into effect on the 1st September 2005.

Oil is the most frequently reported type of pollutant of inland waters, accounting for around 5000 pollution incidents every year.

In 2000, about a sixth of all pollution incidents affecting the environment involved oil. Most incidents were caused by oil leaking from tanks either during storage or delivery. Oil is toxic to plants and animals. A small amount of oil can devastate river life by forming a thin film on the water surface which stops oxygen getting to plants and animals. Oil spilt on the ground can pollute underground waters making them unfit for use as well as being very expensive to put right.

If you store more than 200 litres of oil, petrol, diesel, vegetable or synthetic oil above ground in one or more containers at an industrial, commercial or institutional site, then these regulations will affect you. They cover factories, shops, offices, hotels, schools, public sector buildings and hospitals. These regulations also apply to mobile bowsers. Many self-bunded bowsers are now available.

A secondary containment facility, such as a bund, drip tray or spill pallet should be provided for the storage of containers. These must be strong enough to hold the oil without leaking or bursting. If possible, the oil container must be positioned away from any vehicle traffic to avoid damage from collision resulting in spillage, and must be sufficient to contain 110% of the maximum contents of the oil container.

Where more than one container is stored, the bund should be capable of storing 110% of the largest container, or 25% of the total storage capacity, whichever is the greater.

Bund bases and walls must be impermeable to water and oil and checked regularly for leaks.

Any valve, filter, sight gauge, vent pipe or other ancillary equipment must be kept within the bund when not in use. No drainage valve may be fitted to the bund for the purpose of draining rain water.

In general an oil store will be deemed to be a significant risk if it is located within 10 metres of a watercourse or 50 metres of a well or borehole.

The Environment Agency publishes Pollution Prevention Guidance notes on oil storage, PPG2 and PPG26, that provide practical advice, which if followed will ensure compliance with the regulations.

If you are in any doubt about what you need to do, the Environment Agency are there to offer help and advice to assist you with compliance. However, if you fail to act, the Agency may serve a notice requiring that the facilities be brought up to standard. Failure to comply with a notice is a criminal offence and may result in prosecution.