Fuel leaks and spills cause pollution, so it is essential that you store and handle fuels safely. This includes petrol, diesel, oil, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and solid fuels such as coal.

What you must do

Store oil safely

If you store oil, including petrol, diesel, fuel oil, lubricating oil, vegetable oils and heavy oils on your site, you need to comply with the regulations on oil storage.

Oil storage

Avoid major accidents

If you store or use petroleum products on your site, you may need to comply with the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations.

If you store more than 2,500 tonnes of petroleum products, you must have a major accident prevention policy. If you store more than 25,000 tonnes of petroleum products you must also submit a safety report and prepare an on-site emergency plan.

For more information on preventing accidents and emergency plans, see our COMAH guidance.

Control of major accident hazards (COMAH)

Good practice

Store fuels safely

Store all fuels in an area where you can contain spills. This should be within a secondary containment system (SCS) such as:

  • an impermeable bunded area
  • a drip tray
  • a bunded drum store.

The SCS should be able to contain at least 110% of the volume of the largest storage container or 25% of the total volume you are likely to store, whichever is greater.

Locate storage tanks as far away as possible from drains and watercourses.

Inspect bunds and storage containers at least once a week. If you find damaged containers, repair or replace them immediately.

Put a roof over your fuel storage area to prevent rainwater collecting in the bund and reducing its holding capacity. You must comply with your duty of care when you dispose of water that collects in bunds. If the water is contaminated you may need to deal with it as hazardous/special waste.

Install leak detection devices in storage tanks and bunds. Test all pipework for leaks when it is first installed.

Lock fuel storage tanks when they are not in use to reduce the risk of vandalism. You are responsible for any pollution incident that starts on your site, even if it was caused by vandals.

Supervise deliveries

Supervise all fuel deliveries to your site.

Clearly label all tanks with their contents and storage capacity. This will reduce the risk of overfilling and spills.

Use drip trays for all equipment and when refilling storage tanks.

Refuelling areas

Supervise all refuelling operations and only refuel in a contained area away from watercourses and surface water drains.

Isolate surface water run-off from refuelling areas from general yard drainage. Drain this run-off via an oil separator, or an alternative treatment system, to a watercourse, surface water sewer or combined sewer.

Ensure your oil separator or treatment system is properly maintained and works effectively. If your oil separator doesn't work properly, you might cause pollution, and you could be prosecuted or fined.

Label your drainage system

Keep an up-to-date and accurate drainage plan of your site. This will help you identify the locations of all the drains and sewers and where they lead.

When making a discharge to a drain or sewer, always check you are connecting to the correct system. You should only discharge uncontaminated surface water to the surface water drainage system.

Colour code your drainage system by painting manhole covers, gullies and grills using a recognised colour coding system: blue for surface water drains and red for foul water drains. This will help you to identify which system you are discharging to and where any spills will end up.

Install shut-off valves on your surface and foul water drainage lines so that you can isolate your site drainage if there is a major fuel spill.

Deal with spills

Keep absorbent materials such as sand and other containment equipment suitable for the type and quantity of fuel, oil and chemicals you store and use on your site. Keep them close to where you might need them, particularly in delivery areas. Make sure that your staff know where they are and how to use them. You can buy spill kits containing all the appropriate spill equipment for the substances you store.

Report pollution incidents as soon as they happen to the UK-wide pollution incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

Prepare a pollution incident response procedure for dealing with spills. Make sure that your staff are familiar with the procedure and know how to implement it.

Further information on fuelling and fuel storage

GPP 2 Above ground oil storage tanks

GPP 3 Use and design of oil separators in surface water drainage systems

GPP 21: Pollution incident response planning

DAERA Guidance: Oil storage

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