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Clean up your act.

Byline: Helen Logan

Businesses in the region could be liable for large costs, fines or even prison sentences unless they clean up their act, as new environmental regulations begin to bite.

Rules governing the storage of fuel oil and diesel and its impact on the environment have been strengthened ( with businesses, commercial property developers and their clients, and local authorities in the firing line. Prime risks are oil powered heating systems, diesel bulk fuel tanks and on-site generators ( and owners are liable even if spillage or a leak occurs through theft or vandalism.

Energy specialist Paul Blacklock warns that businesses need to assess their potential risk and if necessary, take action.

"It's an issue of real concern, with existing legislation being considerably toughened to reflect the serious impact that oil leaks can have on water and the environment," he said. "The rules cover all commercial storage of oil and diesel fuel, from industrial premises to golf clubs and water companies."

It's a hot issue for the Environment Agency, which polices the new system, and leaking oil costs UK businesses up to pounds 56m a year. The average clean up bill is around pounds 30,000; however, clean up costs can be even greater, with companies ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The new rules, the Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) Regulations (England) set out requirements for the storage of oil on business premises and reinforce existing legislation.

Failure to comply is a criminal offence with a maximum pounds 20,000 fine and six months' prison sentence.

It's estimated that there are thousands of sites up and down the country where oil tanks and diesel powered generators are being used, exposing business owners to the risk of an oil leak and consequent disruption, cost and possible prosecution.

"This is probably the biggest issue of concern regarding oil for years," added Mr Blacklock. "Businesses in the North-east really need to carry out a full risk assessment if they're storing oil on site or using oil-powered equipment, and also investigate readily available alternatives."
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Business Weekly
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 22, 2004
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