Domestic oil spills
Oil spillages can have serious implications for human heath, groundwater, surface water and wildlife. These implications make it important for users of oil to maintain and monitor the condition of their heating oil tanks and storage. Encountering overpowering odours within a property may lead to ill effects including headaches, dizziness or sickness.
Indicators of an oil leak or spillage
- Detection of significant oil odours in and around your property
- Detecting a taste of oil in your drinking water
- Staining on ground surfaces and the presence of oily residues
- Presence of discoloured or dead vegetation
- If the fuel level in a storage tank drops significantly over a short period of time and cannot be explained by normal use, then this may suggest a leak
Reporting an oil leak or spillage
Once notified, we will visit your property to establish the situation.
The responsibility for land remediation following a spillage ultimately lies with the landowner who will be responsible for incurring costs and contacting the appropriate organisations.
Failure to act can have potential implications for your health, the wider environment, the value of your property and could potentially have severe legal implications, especially if neighbouring properties or individuals are affected.
It is advised that affected homeowners contact their home insurance company for advice and to determine level of cover. Your insurance company may provide cover for losses of oil but may not provide assistance for clean up or remediation work.
Affected Mains Drinking Water Supply
In the event that an unpleasant oil odour or taste is detected in your drinking water, this could be due to supply pipes coming into contact with oil in the ground.
You must contact your mains drinking water provider immediately. Mains drinking water in the district is supplied by 2 water companies
- Visit Thames Water website
- Call 0800 316 9800
- Visit Affinity Water website
- Call 0345 357 2407
Oil Spillages to Ground and Surface Waters
The Environment Agency will address matters relating to water pollution and it is important that they are made aware of any potential spillages where sources of surface or ground water are under threat.
The Council’s Environmental Protection Officer will advise whether a watercourse is classified Main River or an Ordinary Watercourse.
The Environment Agency can be contacted via their incident report hotline:
- Call 0800 80 70 60
If it is determined that a significant oil spill has occurred, you will be advised to appoint a suitably qualified, experienced and independent person/company to undertake an investigation/assessment to determine the extent of contamination and to undertake remediation work to resolve the situation.
Replacements and tank installations should be undertaken by a competent engineer with OFTEC accreditation.
Preventative Measures for Oil Tank Leaks & Useful Contacts
The following measures should be undertaken to lessen the risk of oil spills.
- Reduce pollution risk by positioning fuel tanks and pipework as far away as possible from drains, streams, ponds, wells and boreholes.
- Consider providing secondary containment or bunding for your tank and its ancillary equipment even if you are not required by law to do so.
- Install a new tank and/or pipework using OFTEC registered installation technicians. This will ensure that the relevant British Standard, as well as the manufacturer’s installation instructions are followed.
- Make sure your tank has an ‘Oil Care’ notice stuck on it, with information about what you need to do in the event of a spillage. These should be supplied with new tanks. The tank should also be clearly labelled with the safe capacity and fuel type.
- Inspect your tank, its ancillary equipment and pipework at least weekly for corrosion, damage, interference and signs of leaks.
- Use an OFTEC registered technician to service and inspect your boiler, tank, ancillary equipment and all pipework, at least once a year.
- Be alert to possible leaks by carefully noting your oil usage pattern. A small leak can, over time, add up to a large loss of fuel. This is especially important if underground pipes are used.
- If you notice or suspect a leak get it investigated and repaired by your OFTEC registered technician immediately.
Check your current fuel stocks carefully before reordering oil. Do not allow your tank to be overfilled.
- Never leave site gauge valves open. Don’t use site gauge valves that don’t close automatically.
- Only use auto‐close British Standard sight gauge valves. The valve should only be activated when you take a level reading. If you want continuous level monitoring get suitable equipment installed and have the sight gauge removed.
- Always supervise your oil delivery. Discuss delivery procedures with your fuel delivery company; check that they are happy with your tank and its delivery arrangements from health and safety and pollution prevention aspects.
- It’s a good idea to have an oil spill kit with absorbent materials, drain blockers and leak sealing putty to help you deal with a spill or leak.