Tips for Safe Storage of Diesel and Oil
Spills or leaks of diesel, oil and other fuels are dangerous, can have a serious environmental impact and could even land you in court. It is therefore vital to store fuel safely in robust and secure oil or diesel fuel tanks, ensuring full regulatory compliance and guarding against the risk of pollution. Here we will look at how to make sure your diesel or oil is stored safely all through the year.
Choosing a Safe Location
You should avoid a high-risk area when locating new oil storage tanks. This means you should avoid putting your tank too close to a water source, such as a spring, well or borehole, to protect the environment. It’s also important not to put your tank in an area which is commonly at risk of being flooded, because of the risk of pipelines breaking, causing an oil spillage. If a tank is bunded, then siting near water sources is not so critical, however.
Another point to bear in mind is making sure your tank can be accessed easily for deliveries and maintenance. You will need to factor in things like where the tanker will park, and where the delivery pipes will run. It is worth consulting with your delivery company before making the final decision.
You will also need to have enough room for a suitable support base, as your tank will be much heavier once it is full of fuel. Non-domestic steel tanks can be supported either by steel or by an off-ground masonry pier structure and non-domestic plastic tanks can also use masonry piers or simply be installed at ground level. Whatever you opt for, bear in mind that plastic tanks, unlike steel, are generally NOT self-supporting and will need to be supported along their entire base. If used with brick piers or a tank stand, there will need to be support underneath the plastic tank as well.
You can have diesel storage tanks fitted in an existing building, but these will have to meet fire safety requirements. If you contact an OFTEC registered technician they will be able to advise you about this.
Ensuring Regulatory Compliance
The main regulations covering the safe diesel and oil storage are as follows:
Pollution Prevention: The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) regulations 2001 (OSR England) covers above ground oil storage for both commercial and domestic tanks. There are similar regulations for other parts of the UK; in Scotland, it is covered by the Water Environment (Oil Storage) (Scotland) Regulations 2006.
Detailed Pollution Prevention Guidelines have been issued to help people look after their tanks and avoid polluting the environment by the Environment Agency.
Fire Safety Regulations: Fire protection requirements for siting a fuel or oil tank are included in Building Regulations. OFTEC’s Domestic Oil Storage Publication 19 contains detailed information on this. Non-domestic tanks with a capacity below 3,500 litres should be at least 2 metres away from any boundaries or buildings; if the tank is above 3,500 litres, then it should be at least 6 metres away.
If it is impossible to comply with these distances, then you can still have a tank installed provided you also have a fire protection barrier. This will need to be at least 900 mm higher and wider than both ends of the tank and be rated at least 120 minutes.
Building Regulations: Oil storage tanks, and tanks connected to boilers, need to be installed in accordance with regional Building Regulations. If you have your tank fitted by an OFTEC registered technician they can self-certify their own work without getting local authorities involved.
Tank Construction: There are various minimum standards for tank construction. Some tanks need to have a second line of defence known as a bund. Usually bunded oil tanks (a tank within a tank) are needed near rivers or other water sources, to reduce the risk of pollution. This extra containment can be constructed around the tank or built in and needs to be able to hold at least 110% of the tank’s contents.
Bunded tanks are now required in virtually all commercial and industrial premises. They are also mandatory in a lot of domestic premises too, pending an inspection by an OFTEC-registered engineer.
If you want to know more about the regulations, there is a lot of information in OFTEC’s Guide to Domestic Oil Storage. Plastic and steel tanks should be certified to meet OFTEC Standard OFS T100 & OFS T200 and covered by an OFCERTTM Licence to show compliance. Purpose made integrally bunded tanks to OFS T100 or OFS T200 may be used or, if this isn’t possible, concrete or masonry bunds should be constructed to comply with CIRIA Report 163.
Maintaining Tanks Safely
We recommend that oil and diesel fuel tanks are checked annually, when the heating engineer calls to service the boiler. This should always be carried out by an OFTEC certified engineer.
You should also check your tank once a week for early signs of any problems. Things to look out for include sudden dips in the level of the oil and any signs of damage or corrosion to the walls of the tank. It is also a good idea to make sure you know where your tank’s shutoff valve is.
Tanks are now required to have an oil tank contents gauge to assist the driver when he is refuelling the tank, so that overfilling and spillages are avoided. Most oil companies will now refuse to fill a tank without some type of gauge.
There should also be an isolation valve on the outlet of all domestic and small commercial fuel oil storage tanks. This is there to isolate the tank when there is a problem with the oil feed pipe to the boiler or if some servicing is required after the oil tank outlet. We supply an RPM Fuels and Tanks Tank Fitting Kit that incorporates one of these.
RPM Fuels supply a wide range of oil and diesel tanks in both steel and plastic. Our accessories, which include a variety of gauges, caps and meters, can give you confidence that your oil or diesel is being safely stored, and we can also advise you on the best storage options.