New rules in the tank for safe storage of oil.
With September ushering in new rules for oil storage, the Environment Agency is clarifying what North farmers need to do to store oil safely and how the new regulations apply to them.
As of September 1, farmers (and others such as businesses, schools, hospitals and churches) in England who store more than 200 litres (ie a standard 40-gallon drum) of oil in tanks and containers, outside and above ground, for non-agricultural purposes will need to meet the new strict requirements.
Although these new Oil Storage Regulations do not apply to agricultural fuel, farmers may find themselves subject to the regulations if they store oil in substantial quantities for heating residential properties or other non-agricultural business activities, such as B&Bs, kennels and workshops, carried out on their premises. These regulations are retrospective and will, therefore, apply to all existing non-exempt tanks.
Failure to comply with the new rules is not only bad for the environment but can lead to a fine of up to pounds 5,000. If an oil pollution incident is caused, the polluter could be fined up to pounds 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.
One of the main requirements of the regulations that farmers should look out for is that oil tanks subject to the regulations must have secondary containment ( or a "bund".
The regulations also include detailed requirements for ancillary equipment, location and pipe work.
To comply with the new regulations, there are some simple checks that need to be made to make sure your tanks are ready for September. These include:
* Store oil in a suitable container which is kept out of harm's way.
* Use secondary containment big enough to hold 110% of the oil stored in tanks or 25% of oil in drums.
* Make sure secondary containment is leak-proof.
* All ancillary equipment must be within the secondary containment when not in use.
* Have locks on all taps and valves.
* Protect all pipework from damage by impact and corrosion and get underground pipes tested for leaks.
* Check valves in pump feed lines or manual pumps.
* Use an automatic overfill prevention devise when the delivery driver cannot see the tank vent pipe whilst filling.
Some oil tanks, drums, Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) or mobile bowsers are exempt ( such as those containing waste mineral oil. See www.environment-agency.gov.uk/osr for full details. Oil and fuel used for agricultural purposes is already subject to regulations introduced in 1991.
The Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil (SSAFO) regulations cover the storage of oil used for heating and/or power on premises as defined by the Agriculture Act 1947, which includes horticulture, fruit growing, seed growing, market gardens and nursery grounds. Under the SSAFO regulations, any tank for agricultural fuel oil installed or modified since 1991 requires a secondary containment system (or bund). Therefore tanks installed before 1991 are not legally required to be bunded. However, the risk of tank failure increases with the age of the tank, so it is recommend that best practice is followed and to make sure a tank is bunded even if it is exempt.
Oil Care Campaign manager Richard Martin said: "We are pleased to see that 70% of farmers have taken some measures to reduce pollution of rivers and groundwater but already this year we have seen 75 serious oil and fuel pollution incidents on agricultural premises.
"Farmers need to know how these new regulations for oil storage apply to them, and if they do store oil and fuel for non-agricultural purposes they need to get their tanks in order by September.
"Anyone who is unsure of what they need to do should see our website or contact the Environment Agency on 0870 850-6506."
Anyone needing clarification on the regulations should see the advice and frequently-asked questions on the website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/osr or alternatively contact the Environment Agency on 0870 850-6506.