Avoiding the Cost of an Oil Spill

03/09/2018 | Fuelfighter
Reading time: 3 minutes

An oil spill or leak is an unfortunate and costly occurrence. We’ve put together some tips to help you prevent such a situation before purchasing more oil for the colder weather.

Oil tanks can leak for a number of reasons such as a failure in the main body of the tank. They can also fail due to tank equipment, or the fuel feed lines, due to either damage or general wear. Oil tanks have an expected working life of around 20 years and using them beyond this time will increase the risk of your tank failing and resulting in a leak.

It is the responsibility of the person who stores the oil to deal with leaks or spills appropriately. So it’s essential that you have insurance cover in place. It is recommended that your insurance not only covers damage to your own property, but also that of your neighbours property. It’s also important to be covered for any impact on the environment. If you don’t have insurance in place you would need to hire a specialist contractor to deal with the situation, which can be a costly expense.

In the event of an oil spill or leak, it’s important that you call your insurance company straight away. Where necessary you also need to report the incident to the Environment Agency.

How Can You Tell if You’ve Got a Leak?

An oil spill or leak won’t necessarily be noticeable straight away, which is why it’s important to regularly check your tank and looks for signs of wear and tear or damage. Spotting a leak quickly can save you time, money and reduce the damage to your property and the environment.

There are however some obvious signs to watch out for:

  • A strong smell of oil either inside or outside your property.
  • Black stains on the tank support or on the surrounding area.
  • Dead plants or grass close to the tank or its pipework.
  • An unexpected increase in the amount of heating oil you are using.

Suggestions for What to Do if You Have a Leak

  • Switch off the oil supply at your tank.
  • If possible and safe to do so, try to locate the source of the leak.
  • Call your insurance company to notify them and start the process for making a claim.
  • Consider whether your oil tank needs to be emptied – your insurance company or local oil company can usually help you with this.
  • Arrange for a competent person to make the necessary repairs before using your tank again. Your insurance company will usually organise a specialist contractor to assess the situation and recommend remedial works.
  • If the leak could affect a nearby stream or water way, it is important that you contact the Environment Agency as a matter of urgency.
  • Try to contain the oil by using an oil spillage kit. Never try to wash the oil away as this can make the problem worse.
  • Try to prevent any oil from entering nearby drains by blocking its flow with earth, sand or commercial oil absorbent products.
  • Keep children and pets away from the affected area.

How to Prevent Oil Spills or Leaks

  • Ensure your tank is compliant with building control regulations and is in a suitable location as far away as possible from waterways and sources of water supplies.
  • Ensure your tank is manufactured to OFTEC standards.
  • Keep your tank well maintained and ensure it is inspected annually by an OFTEC registered technician.
  • Carry out regular visual inspections of your tank – check for signs of wear and tear or damages, such as corrosion or bulging.
  • Familiarise yourself with where your underground pipework is located so that you can prevent damage from activities such as gardening.

Before the cold weather arrives, now is a great time to have your boiler checked. You also have time to carry out any necessary repairs ready for Winter. Technicians are always in higher demand during the cold season, and you don’t want to risk being without heating oil. Click here more information on arranging a service, or finding a local OFTEC registered technician.

It’s also useful to purchase a domestic oil spillage kit and keep a copy of your insurers guide to dealing with spillages and leaks close by in case of emergencies.

Oil leaks and spillages not only cause expensive damage to property, they can have a serious impact on the environment. Did you know that just 2 litres of oil could seriously pollute the amount of fresh water needed to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool?

If you have any queries regarding oil leaks and spillages, please visit the Environment Agency or OFTEC for further information. For more tips and advice from Fuelfighter click here.