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Call to rural householders to avoid pollution

A new campaign has been launched calling on rural householders who use oil central heating to make the most of the summer months to check their storage tanks.

OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, has joined forces with the Environment Agency and oil distribution trade association FPS (Federation of Petroleum Suppliers) to launch the ‘Tank Safe’ campaign to raise awareness of oil tank safety.

It is estimated that at least one in three tanks are over 20 years old and should be replaced. Tanks that are past their maximum life expectancy can be prone to leaking which can be bad news for both the householder and the environment.

Malcolm Farrow of OFTEC said: “It’s very easy to forget about your oil tank tucked away in the garden when you’re not using your central heating, but the summer months are a crucial time to think about your tank and check it’s in good condition. This could help you to avoid a nasty surprise in the middle of winter when you need your heating most.

“Fortunately, leaks are rare but the consequences of oil spilling aren’t just inconvenient for the individual but can also be a serious issue for the environment, depending on how much oil has leaked. We recommend tanks are inspected by a competent person, such as an OFTEC registered technician, at least once a year, and that the check is part of the normal central heating system service.”

Many of OFTEC’s registered technicians will provide a free tank check. For further information and to find your nearest registered technician, visit www.oftec.co.uk or www.oilsave.org.uk.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Leaks and spills from oil storage tanks and pipework can cause pollution incidents, leading to the oil polluting streams and rivers, as well as soaking into groundwater supplies. It’s better to check your tank now so that you can help prevent any leaks or spillages and help to protect rivers and streams from potential pollution.”

OFTEC gives the following additional advice:

  • If your tank is over 20 years old, or you are in any doubt, replace it.
  • Pipework between the tank and boiler must also be carefully inspected.
  • Ensure the tank is kept clear of plants and foliage and is on a good solid base.
  • Check that your home insurance covers oil spillages.
  • Report any spillages immediately to the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.

Mark Askew of FPS added: “Every year we receive reports regarding tanks which have split when filled or even days later. It is important to have your tank checked by a qualified technician in order to keep it in its best condition and to alert householders to potential problems before they happen. Remember that, whilst losing a tank of oil could be expensive, that cost is minimal when set against the possible remediation costs of a spill.”

Further Information

Look after your oil tank

Buying group guidance