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OFTEC and NIEA join forces…

David Blevings (left) and Kevin McGrady (right)

David Blevings (left) and Kevin McGrady (right)

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and OFTEC have joined forces to launch a campaign on oil tank awareness for businesses owners.

The campaign is reminding Northern Ireland businesses of all sizes that the Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) Regulations (NI) 2010 primarily required any above ground oil tank over 200 litres to be provided with 110% secondary containment by December 2015.

The organisations are concerned that many are unaware of the regulatory requirements and associated fines, up to a maximum of £20,000, for non-compliance, with the campaign striving to educate and protect business owners from the surprise of any hefty fines.

The legislation provides guidance on who has to comply, how to comply, maintenance requirements, and sets out some simple steps to ensure oil is stored safely, reducing the risk of pollution and offering better protection for the environment. The campaign also aims to help business owners avoid potentially significant clean-up costs, which can often be excluded from insurance policies.

David Blevings, OFTEC Ireland manager, said: “Oil is a very safe and useful product, if stored correctly. Properly installed and maintained tanks provide safe and sound storage for heating oil throughout the year. The tanks sit outside and endure rain, frost, snow and even some sunshine. Like all products, they have a definitive lifespan and the aim of our joint campaign with NIEA is to remind business owners if they have an oil tank on the premises, it should be installed and serviced appropriately.

“The regulations apply to containers at offices, shops and industrial premises. It requires that all commercial properties must have any oil tank over 200 litres to have secondary containment in place such as an integrally bunded storage tank. If businesses don’t comply they could face a large fine or a serious pollution incident; this can be easily avoided with free site assessments available across Northern Ireland.”

Kevin McGrady, emergency pollution officer with the NIEA, said: “Pollution from spillages of oil can be very damaging to the environment and to the aquatic environment in particular. There were almost 150 oil related incidents confirmed by NIEA in 2016 and this awareness raising initiative aims to help reduce the number of oil related pollution incidents throughout Northern Ireland by emphasising the importance of secondary containment and how it offers more security for your oil storage.

“The campaign strives to encourage responsible ownership and storage of oil by outlining simple measures to prevent loss of this valuable non-renewable resource from storage tanks which will, in turn, help safeguard the environment and minimise the risk of expensive remediation by the tank owners.”

The rules relating to secondary containment and bunded tanks not only apply to commercial premises but also to businesses, churches and commercial workshops that use above ground oil storage tanks that store more than 200 litres of oil.

Further information is available here.

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