News From OilFiredUp
EA issues Theft Warning to Heating Oil Users
7th April 2011
Criminals who target oil tanks do not only leave homeowners out of pocket, they can also leave behind a large clean-up operation and environmental damage. To reduce this risk, the Environment Agency is working with police forces in Lincolnshire and Leicestershire to prevent pollution as a result of thefts from heating oil tanks.
Shaun Rowson, Groundwater and Contaminated Land Team Leader says, "We are aware there has been an increase in the number of thefts from heating oil tanks across Lincolnshire. The police advise owners to be aware of this sort of crime, look out for one another and use deterrents. This is all useful advice.
"However, the one thing that is often overlooked, particularly where the theft of oil has resulted in damage to a tank, is the potential environmental impact. A leaking oil tank can contaminate surface water and groundwater and the cost of investigating and clean up can run into thousands of pounds."
In a bid to protect water resources, the Environment Agency, as part of the Government Agency Intelligence Network, requested that police ask victims of oil tank theft to contact its officers.
Shaun says, "This partnership approach is working well and both Lincolnshire and Leicestershire police forces are now asking victims of oil theft to contact us.
"Being able to act quickly is vital to stop oil pollution spreading and, potentially, reaching important underground water supplies. We would therefore urge people to contact us as quickly as possible if they think there is any risk of pollution as a result of oil theft. This will help to minimise the potential impact on the environment, the public and the homeowner."
In addition to reporting suspected leaks as a result of theft, homeowners should also inspect their oil storage tanks regularly. Poorly maintained tanks are a common cause of pollution and spilled oil damages plants and wildlife and can make soil infertile, destroying habitats.
The Environment Agency suggests homeowners should take the following action to ensure their oil tanks are safe for use.
- Site tanks as far away as possible from drains, streams and ponds.
- Inspect tanks, pipes and other equipment for leaks, damage and interference once a week.
- Check home insurance - loss of oil or pollution clean-up costs may not be covered.
- Always notify the Environment Agency and insurers immediately in the event of a spill or suspected spill.
In addition, when re-filling the tank, the Environment Agency claims it is important the delivery is supervised and the amount of oil being used recorded.This means leaks can be identified quickly, minimising environmental damage and financial costs. Underground feed lines can leak and they can only be identified before major contamination occurs by checking there is no excessive use.