Oil tank testing could cut spills

Pollution professionals are calling for regular testing of oil storage tanks, akin to an MoT, in a bid to reduce unnecessary and avoidable spills.

Trade association the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) is lobbying for regular inspections to ensure commercial oil tanks are fit for purpose and claims that implementing such a regime could slash the number of spills by a third or more.

Existing oil storage regulations drawn up in 2001 set standards for commercial and industrial tanks and have led to a significant reduction in spills.

But a lack of regular check ups means problems are often only identified once it’s too late.

Oil and fuels are the most frequently reported type of pollutant of inland waters in England and Wales.

Merlin Hyman, director of EIC, said: “The impact of inland oil pollution incidents can be huge: devastating wildlife; making homes uninhabitable and polluting important water supplies for decades.

“Whilst the oil storage regulations have resulted in a welcome decline in the number of oil spills, the latest Environment Agency figures show that the Government is still falling well short of its target to reduce the number of oil-related pollution incidents.”

The EIC has published a report, The Need for an ‘MOT’ Scheme for Oil Tanks: A Better Regulation Measure for Reducing Pollution Incidents from Oil and Fuel, which calls for a mandatory check when tanks are first installed followed by an inspection after 5 years of operation, then every two years thereafter until the tank has been installed for 15 years when the tank will be subject to a mandatory ‘MOT’ inspection every year.

If a tank fails its ‘MoT’ the operator would be required to carry out the necessary repairs – a further inspection would be made once the remedial works have been done.

Under the trade association’s proposals it would be illegal for an oil supplier to fill a tank that does not have a valid test certificate.

Sam Bond

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