The Control of Oil Pollution Regulations

The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001

More than 5,000 oil incidents are reported every year. During 2000, one-sixth of all pollution incidents affecting the environment involved oil. Most incidents were caused by oil leaking from tanks either during storage or delivery.

The regulations state the need for oil stores (with the exception of waste oil stores) to provide a secondary containment facility.

Anyone storing 200 litres of oil or more above ground at a commercial, industrial or institutional site, or more than 3,500 litres at a domestic site will be affected by these regulations. They cover factories, shops, offices, hotels, schools, public sector buildings and hospitals. These regulations apply only in England.

Any oil stores built since the 1st March 2002 must comply. Sites close to watercourses (10m) or bore holes (50m) are classed as higher risk and should have been in compliance as of 1st September 2003. All remaining stores had until 1st September 2005 to introduce satisfactory secondary containment.

Water Environment (Oil Storage) Scotland Regulations 2006

The requirements of the Regulations in Scotland differ slightly from those in England, the following are the key differences:

  • Regulations in Scotland apply to domestic oil storage above 2500 litres. The Oil Storage Regulations England apply to domestic oil storage with over 3500 litre capacity.
  • Regulations in Scotland apply to storage of waste oil. The storage of waste mineral oils is exempt under the Oil Storage Regulations England as their storage is covered by the Waste Management Licensing regulations 1994.
  • Regulations in Scotland apply to storage of oil in buildings. The Oil Storage Regulations England exempt the storage of oil within a building.
  • Regulations in Scotland exempt oil stored in accordance with a Part A authorisation / permit under the Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Regulations 2000, or the Environmental Protection (Prescribed Processes and Substances) Regulations 1991 and premises used as an oil distribution depot for the onward distribution of oil to other places. The Oil Storage Regulations England exempt storage of oil at premises used for refining oil or for the onward distribution of oil to other places.
  • If you store oil for agricultural use on a farm in Scotland, it is covered by the new oil storage regulations. If you store agricultural fuel oil in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, above a certain volume, there are separate regulations governing how it must be stored – Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil Regulations in England and Wales, Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil Storage Regulations in Northern Ireland.
  • There is a requirement in the Scottish Oil Storage Regulations that where oil is stored in a portable container of <200 litres the container must be of sufficient strength and structural integrity that it doesn’t leak in its ordinary use. There is no similar requirement in the English regulations.

Timescale for Compliance with Regulations

The Regulations will come into force in 3 stages following. These stages are:

  1. New tanks (i.e. facilities commenced after 1 April 2006) will have to comply within 6 months [by 1 October 2006],
  2. Existing tanks at significant risk (i.e. facilities that are located within 10 metres of any surface water or 50 metres of a borehole or well will have to comply within 2 years [1April 2008]
  3. Remaining existing tanks will have to comply within 4 years [1 April 2010].

Sump requirements:

You must use oil containers that are strong enough and that are unlikely to burst or leak during ordinary use. In Scotland this is the only requirement for portable oil containers with a capacity less than 200 litres.

You must store containers within a drip tray, bund or any other suitable secondary containment system (SCS). This will contain any oil that escapes from its container.

For oil tanks, intermediate bulk containers and mobile bowsers, your SCS must be able to hold:

  • at least 110% of the volume of any single container in the storage area, or
  • if there is more than one container, at least 110% of the largest container’s storage volume, or at least 25% of their total volume (whichever is greater).

For drum storage your drip tray must be able to hold at least 25% of the total storage capacity of the drums.

Position the SCS to minimise the risk of damage, eg from vehicles.

You must ensure that the base and walls of your bunds are impermeable to water and oil. The base and walls must not be penetrated by any valve, pipe or opening that is used for draining the system.

If any fill pipe or draw-off pipe goes through the base or walls, you must seal the junction of the pipe with the base or walls to prevent oil escaping from the system.

You must locate within the SCS all valves, filters, sight gauges, vent pipes and other equipment, other than fill pipes or draw-off pipes or pumps.

Where a fill pipe is not within the SCS, you must use a drip tray to catch any oil spilled when the container is being filled. You should make sure this drip tray is clean and empty before each delivery.

Wales and N Ireland now have their own OSR, with the latest being the Water Resources (Control of Pollution)(Oil Storage) Wales Regulations 2016, which came into force 15th march 2016 and which both follow in general the level of protection afforded by the Scotland regulations.