Heating oil users across the South West of England are being warned to check their oil tanks this winter to help save money and protect the environment.
The Environment Agency is urging residents across the south west of England to check their heating oil storage tanks, especially in the wake of the high winds experienced during the St Jude storm. This can help avoid expensive leaks or spills which can also prove devastating to the environment.
Ideally, oil tanks should not be positioned in areas liable to flood. This is because when tank contents are low, the tank can become buoyant in a flood causing it to break away from the oil supply line and potentially leading to an oil pollution incident. If a tank is at risk in a flood, then additional steps can be taken to strap it down or to raise it – but guidance and advice should always be sought from a competent person such as an OFTEC Registered Technician first.
The damage caused by heating oil spills can be extremely difficult – and costly – to remediate. Furthermore, not all insurance policies cover the cost of a heating oil spills, so it’s always a good idea for homeowners and householders to check their policies.
“Oil spills are costly to clean up and can cause a lot of disruption to homeowners. Any time and effort you put in to preventing an oil spill by checking your heating oil tank and reducing the risk of damage to your tank will be time well spent,” says Alison Gidlow for the Environment Agency.
“We believe the best way to protect the environment is through pollution prevention. Most leaks can be easily spotted or smelt, 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.
“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. Tanks and connecting pipe work should be checked regularly and it is advisable for owners to understand what they should do in the event of a spill. New tanks should last for approximately twenty years, but any tanks that are of concern should be inspected by a suitably competent person and may need replacing.”
Many modern tanks are bunded, comprising a ‘tank within a tank’. The inner tank is the primary storage container, with the outer tank acting as a failsafe in the event of a spill. Bunded heating oil tanks are proven to significantly reduce the risk of a spill at heating oil storage installations. However, irrespective of the type of tank fitted, the Environment Agency recommends that all heating oil tanks are checked annually by a competent person – especially after long periods of inactivity.
Members of the public wanting to know more about oil tank maintenance can visit the Environment Agency’s website or call 03708 506 506 to obtain, free, expert advice.