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The number of oil-related water pollution incidents could be cut by ...
The number of oil-related water pollution incidents could be cut by

up to 2,500 by the year 2005 through new plans to clean up water

pollution from oil stores.

New regulations have been laid in parliament to introduce new

controls on water pollution from oil stores in England.

The new regulations will:

* reduce the number of oil-related incidents in England by ensuring

that oil cannot escape from oil stores

* save those storing oil up to£30,000 for every oil pollution

incident avoided

* protect wildlife and rivers from harm and damage

* ensure water supplies are not disrupted

* guarantee that all new and existing oil stores meet the minimum

standards within four years

One of the major causes of pollution is oil leaking from tanks with

no secondary containment, such as a 'bund' (a surrounding wall) or

a drip tray.

Environment minister Michael Meacher said:

'Oil-related water pollution incidents in England accounted for 17%

of all water pollution incidents in 1999, mainly due to leaks from

unbunded oil storage tanks. The new regulations will reduce the

number of such oil-related incidents in England by about half by

the year 2005. This will be achieved by setting design standards for

all above ground oil stores and requiring that secondary containment,

such as a 'bund' (a surrounding wall) or 'drip tray' is in place to

prevent oil escaping into controlled waters.'

Mr Meacher added:

'Oil pollution of fresh waters has grown in recent years, causing

harm to wildlife, damage to our rivers and disruption to water

supplies. These new Regulations are a cost-effective measure that

will help to protect the environment.'


1. Oil-related water pollution, mainly from industrial, commercial

and institutional premises, continues to be a problem. Oil incidents

have significant implications for aquatic life and water supplies,

and are costly to clean up. The Groundwater Regulations 1998 and the

new 'works notice' requirements under section 161A of the Water

Resources Act 1991 will enable the Environment Agency to issue a

notice to individual premises storing oil to require preventative

works where there is a real risk of pollution. However, there are

estimated to be about a quarter of a million industrial, commercial

and institutional (residential and non-residential) oil storage

premises in England, in which case it is more efficient and

economical to impose blanket minimum standards to prevent the large

number of incidents from these premises.

2. Those mainly affected by the regulations would include anyone

storing oil on industrial, commercial, institutional (residential and

non-residential) premises. There are exceptions in certain

circumstances, for example, where other controls exist (eg on farms

and for underground tanks).

3. It is proposed that the regulations would come into force in three

stages and, thereafter, oil stores must be maintained so that they

comply with the Regulations at all times:

* new oil stores would comply within six months of the regulations

being introduced in parliament to give them time to obtain planning


* existing oil stores at 'significant risk' would comply within 2

years of the regulations being introduced

* remaining existing oil stores would comply within four years

4. The Regulatory Impact Assessment estimates that the additional

costs of the Regulations for a 'typical business' would be less

than£500 for each new tank. This cost is the difference in price

between a new bunded and a new unbunded tank of the same size. The

cost of a new bunded tank is up to£1,000 for the same type of


5. The additional costs for the typical business of upgrading oil

tanks to meet the new requirements four years from now would range

from minimal, where an existing bund needs to be repaired, up to

about£1,000. The maximum cost reflects the cost of installing a

new tank ahead of its natural replacement time.

6. This expenditure compares to an expected saving for a typical

business of up to£30,000 for each pollution incident avoided,

because of the proposed new regulations.

7. A consultation exercise on proposals to tackle oil stores took

place in December 1996 and April 2000. The national assembly for

Wales is considering introducing similar proposals in due course.

8. Copies of the guidance are available here. Paper copies can be obtained from DTLR free

literature, PO Box 236, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS23 7NB. Tel:

0870 1226 236. Fax 0870 1226 237.

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