10th Aug, 2020

Check your heating oil tank

Coronavirus is impacting our lives in many ways and changing our routines. It has also caused the price of oil to fall, so many people are filling their tanks.

With people storing more oil than normal over the summer months, the risk of leaks is ever greater, and the danger these pose to the environment and wildlife must not be underestimated.

The Environment Agency is urging anyone with a domestic heating oil tank to check their tank is in a good state of repair before getting heating oil delivered.

This is especially important as tanks will be more full than usual through the summer months, increasing the risk of spills and leaks.

Leaks and spills from a domestic heating tank can be difficult and expensive to clean up; leaked oil can end up in groundwater supplies and drains, many of which lead directly into rivers, streams, lakes and even garden ponds.

If oil does get into drains it could pollute watercourses; harming livestock, wildlife and plants.

Our vital drinking water can also come from the same surface and groundwater supplies so protection is important.

Oil is poisonous to fish, other wildlife and smothers plants – just two litres of oil could seriously pollute the volume of fresh water needed to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool.

Helen Wakeham, Deputy Director of Water Quality for the Environment Agency says: “With people storing more oil than normal over the summer months, the risk of leaks is ever greater, and the danger these pose to the environment and wildlife must not be underestimated.

“The clean-up costs of a leaking tank can also cost tens of thousands of pounds, and land contamination caused by a leak can severely affect the value of your property.

“It is vital both the tank and pipes are regularly inspected and for people to never buy more oil than they can safely store.

“If anyone does find a spill, please contact us straight away so we can reduce the impact on the environment.”

To report an oil spill people should contact the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Visit Gov.uk for guidance on the regulations that apply to storing oil: https://www.gov.uk/oil-storage-regulations-and-safety

Visit the Oil Care Campaign for website for further guidance: http://oilcare.org.uk/

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