News From OilFiredUp
Check Your Tank, Says Environment Agency
18th October 2012
Homeowners across the South East of England are being warned to check their oil storage tanks this winter to help save money and the environment. The Environment Agency is urging residents across the South East to check their heating oil storage tanks to help avoid expensive leaks or spills which can also harm the environment.
The damage caused by oil leaks can be difficult - and costly - to remediate, as not all insurance policies cover the cost of an oil leak. Residents are being encouraged to report any loss of oil immediately to the Environment Agency, their insurance company and their heating oil supplier.
Jonathan Atkinson, a Groundwater and Contaminated Land Technical Specialist, says, "In the South East, we rely heavily on groundwater to supply our drinking water so we must protect it from pollution. Oil can be hazardous in the wrong setting and escapes can be harmful to plants and animals and a threat to their habitats, as well as impacting water quality and resources.
"We believe the best way to protect the environment is through pollution prevention. Most leaks can be easily spotted, so we are encouraging people to check around the tank, pipe work, taps and gauges, looking particularly for any signs of corrosion, bulging, damage and drips. Check with your home insurer to make sure your insurance covers you against costs of cleaning up an accidental loss of heating oil."
In some cases, thousands of pounds' worth of fuel has drained away because leaks have gone undetected for a long period of time whilst the tank has been refilled several times. This can leave householders faced with a large clean-up bill and if the insurance doesn't cover the costs, they'll have to find the money themselves.
Tanks and connecting pipe work should be checked regularly and it would be advisable for owners to understand what they should do in the event of a loss. Tanks that are more than ten years old should be considered for replacement. Many modern tanks are integrally bunded, whilst others have masonry concrete bunds placed around them. Both measures are proven to significantly reduce the risk of an environmental pollution incident in the risk of a spill, but care should be taken to regularly inspect and remove rainwater and debris from old-fashioned masonry bunds - otherwise their effectiveness will be compromised.
It is recommended that all tanks are checked annually by an OFTEC registered technician, especially after long periods of inactivity.
The Environment Agency is giving homeowners some advice on how to respond if the worst does happen and your fuel tank does leak
- In the event of a leak being detected which originates along the oil supply line, stop the flow at the source by turning the isolation valve to the off position;
- Use earth or sand or appropriate manufacturers kits which are available to absorb the spill to prevent oil from entering a river, drain or soaking into the ground;
- Never use detergents and never use a hose to wash away spilt oil, as this can make the problem worse;
- Contact your oil supplier for advice and help in removing the remaining oil;
- Call the Environment Agency Incident Hotline 0800 80 70 60 (24 hours);
- Contact your insurance company.
Members of the public wanting to know more about oil tank maintenance can visit the Environment Agency's website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk or call 03708 506 506 to obtain advice.