Heating Oil is a valuable fuel, and it is important to store it in strong heating oil tanks and use it responsibly. You must protect your health and safety and reduce the risk of pollution.
Oil tanks and their environmental considerations
Every year, leaks and spills from heating oil tanks and pipework cause many pollution incidents. Spilt oil can pollute streams, rivers and eventually groundwater supplies.
In the UK, public water supplies come from rivers and groundwater so we must protect them from pollution. Oil is toxic and harmful to plants and animals, and is a threat to their habitats.
You should have your oil tank and fittings (such as valves, gauges and pipework) inspected by a suitably-qualified competent person at least once a year. If they find any leaks, damage or defects with the installation, you’ll need to arrange a repair or replacement immediately. It is important to keep the equipment in a satisfactory condition. You’ll also need to arrange removal of any accumulated water or sludge found in the tank.
In between annual inspections, your fuel supplier may identify defects with your installation. In some cases, they will issue an ‘Unsafe Delivery Point Report’. If defects are identified, however small, you should get them fixed immediately to minimise risk of a pollution incident.
Insurance advice for Heating Oil Tanks
Cleaning up oil spills is difficult and can be very expensive and costs thousands of pounds. Dealing with a spill will cause you and maybe your neighbours a great deal of inconvenience. You should have insurance cover and your policy should include the following points.
- The cost of replacing the lost oil.
- The costs of cleaning up oil on your own property.
- A high enough liability limit to cover you if neighbouring land and/or boreholes are affected.
- Environmental clean up for accidental oil loss.
It’s against the law to cause pollution
If you are unfortunate enough to have an accidental spill or leak you’ll have to take immediate action to clean up! Your insurance company may not pay if the leak has been occurring over time. Checking your tank and pipework regularly and monitoring how much oil you use so you can spot any sudden changes.
If you see a problem with your tank, gauge or pipework when you’re checking it, get it fixed urgently by a professional.
Check your oil tank, pipework and bund for the following issues.
- Obvious changes in the supporting structure and base.
- Signs of corrosion or degradation (oil staining, rust, discolouration,cracks, crazing).
- Signs of distortion or bulging.
- Signs of damage, interference and any obvious leaks.
- Tank inspection and access points are correctly closed and, if appropriate, locked shut.
- The tank vent outlet and its insect screen or rainwater shield is clear of debris and vegetation.
- Oil staining on supports or ground near the tank (report this to the oil supplier if you find this immediately after a delivery).
- Sight gauge reading valve is closed and locked shut.
- Sight gauge operation, security, clarity, condition, cleanliness and both valve positions.
When replacing your oil storage tank, get advice from a suitably-qualified competent tank installer. They can help you identify features on the site which will dictate what can be installed and how to comply with legislation.
Choosing a heating oil tank:
Choose from heating oil tanks that have been manufactured to a recognised relevant European, British or industry standard. These show that a tank has been manufactured and tested to strict quality standards.
Oil tanks should be clearly marked with a nominal (maximum) filling capacity to assist with ordering fuel. All new tanks should display information on what actions to take if there’s an oil leak or spill.
There are two distinct different types of heating oil storage tanks, a bunded tank and a non bunded tank. Selection of the wrong tank in certain conditions could land you in hot water with the Environment Agency.