Homeowners urged to check oil tanks to prevent pollution

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is urging owners of domestic oil tanks to carry out regular checks to save additional costs and avoid environmental damage this winter.

Householders who store oil have a legal responsibility to ensure their storage facilities do not cause pollution, yet incidents from tank leaks and overfills occur each year.

If water enters a steel tank it can lead to corrosion and in very cold weather it can expand and freeze resulting in ruptured pipes and fittings, while plastic tanks may have had stress degradation in this summer’s extreme weather.

Leaked fuel causes far-reaching damage to the environment – it can kill plants, harm wildlife, pollute rivers and contaminate drinking water.

Fuel loss can leave homeowners facing the cost of replacing oil as well as potentially having to pay thousands of pounds to clean up an oil spill with costs potentially reaching up to £100,000.

Families have had to leave their homes while fuel is removed from their property.

Huw Jones, Environment Team Leader with NRW, said:

“As we enter the wet and wintery season, it is important householders regularly check tanks and pipework to make sure they are well maintained, especially before their tank is filled.

“By regularly checking your tank you can reduce the risk of losing money from spilled oil, costs of a clean-up and help protect your local environment.

“One sign of a leak is if the volume of oil you use suddenly increases. If you see anything you’re worried about or that has changed since you last checked your tank, you should get advice from a qualified oil heating professional.”

Steps to help prevent an oil spill include safe tank filling by ensuring your delivery driver uses the tank fill point and there is space for the oil in your tank, checking the tank base or supports for cracking or subsidence and checking all visible pipework, valves and filters for damage and signs of leaks.

It is also advised to inspect secondary containment (tank bunds) for liquid or rubbish and ensure drip trays for remote fill pipes are clear and do not have any oil, water, leaves or rubbish in them.

Householders should also check if an oil spill is covered by their home insurance, including the clean-up of oil on your property, neighbouring properties, and seepage into the ground or watercourses.

For more information you can visit http://oilcare.org.uk/look-after-your-oil/regular-tank-checks

Report all suspected pollution and other environmental incidents to NRW via the 24-hour incident hotline 0300 065 3000 or email icc@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk