The regulations, which are designed to reduce the risk of oil spills, will apply to anyone who stores more than 200 litres of oil in tanks or containers outside and above ground.

The strict requirements are likely to affect businesses, schools, hospitals, churches, hospitals, museums, offices, warehouses and banks and others who store oil in substantial quantities for oil-fired central heating or other reasons.

Domestic oil users are exempt unless they are storing 3,500 litres or more of oil.

Simply failing to comply with the new rules can lead to a fine of up to £5,000 and if oil is actually spilled the polluter could be fined up to £20,000 at a magistrate’s court.

A recent report from the Oil Care Campaign found that three of the top four causes of oil and fuel pollution incidents were tank failure, pipe failure and overfilling of tanks.

The risk from all of these can be reduced by making sure oil storage meets the regulation requirements.

The Environment Agency and Oil Care Campaign have published a checklist outlining some of the major issues those responsible for oil storage should be considering before Septmeber.

These include:

  • Storing oil in a suitable container which is kept out of harms way.
  • Using secondary containment big enough to hold 110% of the oil stored in tanks or 25% of oil in drums.
  • Making sure secondary containment is leak-proof.
  • All ancillary equipment must be within the secondary containment when not in use.
  • Locks must be on all taps and valves.
  • All pipework must be protected from damage by impact and corrosion and underground pipes tested for leaks.
  • Valves in pump feed lines or manual pumps must be checked.
  • Using an automatic overfill prevention devise when the delivery driver can not see the tank vent pipe whilst filling.

    Oil Care Campaign manager, Richard Martin said: “Oil pollution incidents have a serious impact on the environment and the decline in incidents over the past few years shows that regulations along with the concerted effort by the Environment Agency and industry partners is paying dividends.

    “Our recent oil pollution report is being championed by the industry who are already looking at ways of addressing concerns in order to keep the trend going down.

    “However, there is still more to do.”

    Some oil tanks and containers are not affected by the regulations, such as those used for waste mineral oil.

    For full details of the regulations and exemptions, see the Environment Agency’s website.

    Anyone who sees an oil accident should call the Environment Agency free of charge on 0800 80 70 60 to report the incident as soon as possible.

    By Sam Bond

  • Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie