Homeowners warned to check for oil tank leaks

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Homeowners across the South West are being warned to check their oil storage tanks this winter to help save money and the environment.

The Environment Agency is urging residents across the region to check their heating oil storage tanks, especially in the wake of the high winds that battered everyone during the St Jude storm, to help avoid expensive leaks or spills which can also harm the environment.

Ideally, oil tanks should not be positioned in areas liable to flood. This is because when tank contents are low, it can become buoyant in a flood causing it to break away from the oil supply line and causing a pollution. If your tank is at risk in a flood, then additional steps can be taken to strap down or elevate your tank. It is recommended that advice is sought from a competent person.

The damage caused by oil leaks can be extremely difficult – and costly – to remediate, as not all insurance policies cover the cost of an oil leak. Residents are being encouraged to report any loss of oil immediately to the Environment Agency, their insurance company and their heating oil supplier.

‘Oil spills are costly to clean up and can cause a lot of disruption to homeowners. Any time and effort you put in to preventing an oil spill by checking your tank and reducing the risk of damage to your tank will be well spent.’ said Alison Gidlow for the Environment Agency.

‘We believe the best way to protect the environment is through pollution prevention. Most leaks can be easily spotted or smelt, so we are encouraging people to check around the tank, pipe work, taps and gauges, looking particularly for any signs of corrosion, bulging, damage and drips.’

In some cases, thousands of pounds’ worth of fuel has drained away because leaks have gone undetected for a long period of time whilst the tank has been refilled several times. This can leave householders faced with a large clean-up bill.
Tanks and connecting pipe work should be checked regularly and it would be advisable for owners to understand what they should do in the event of a loss. New tanks should last for approximately twenty years, but any tanks that are of concern should be inspected by a suitably competent person and may need replacing.

Some modern tanks are double skinned or have concrete/brick bunds placed around them, which helps prevent escape of oil if a leak occurs.

It is recommended that all tanks are checked annually by a competent person, especially after long periods of inactivity.

If you see a pollution in the environment, call 0800 807060 to report it.

Members of the public wanting to know more about oil tank maintenance can visit the Environment Agency’s website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk or contact us on 03708 506 506 to obtain advice.

A booklet containing detailed information is available on the Environment Agency’s website at http://publications.environment-agency.gov.uk/PDF/PMHO0811BUBP-E-E.pdf.

You can check your flood risk and sign up to free flood warnings by visiting the Environment Agency website at
http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/31618.aspx
or by calling Floodline on 0845 988 1188. The public can also get regular updates by following @EnvAgencySW and #floodaware.

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