How to make sure your oil storage is safe and secure

How to make sure your oil storage is safe and secure

There is less formal regulation on the use of oil fired heating systems than there is for gas supplied ones, but that does not mean there is none.

There is less formal regulation on the use of oil fired heating systems than there is for gas supplied ones, but that does not mean there is none.

The four main pieces of legislation covering oil are:

Consumer Protection Act 1987
The General Product Safety Regulations 1994
Competent Person (Statutory Instrument 2007 No 3384)
The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001

The last two of these are the most crucial and there is a good reason for them.

Making sure your oil storage tank is properly installed and your heating system is safe should always be done by a competent person.

In the UK the industry’s trade body is called OFTEC and it sets the standards for installers. It operates a UKAS accredited competent person registration scheme for over 8,000 technicians involved in the installation and maintenance, including Part P electrical work.

If you need to replace an oil storage tank on a domestic property your OFTEC accredited technician should carry out a site inspection and advise you of what you need to have done.

Essentially much of the formal oil storage legislation is in place both for fire safety and to protect the environment and must conform to Building Regulations.

Its location must comply with fire separation distances in order to adequately protect the stored fuel from a fire or heat source, that may originate nearby.
Tanks should be sited:

  • 1.8m away from non-fire rated eaves of a building
  • 1.8m away from a non-fire rated building or structure (e.g. garden sheds)
  • 1.8m away from openings (such as doors or windows) in a fire rated building or structure (e.g. brick built house/garage)
  • 1.8m away from oil fired appliance flue terminals
  • 760mm away from a non-fire rated boundary such as a wooden boundary fence
  • 600mm away from screening (e.g. trellis and foliage) that does not form part of the boundary.

If conditions cannot be met than you must install a fire protection barrier with at least 30 minutes fire rating.

It must sit on a secure base adequate for the weight of the tank, made of Non-combustible, imperforate material and be level. The base surface should be large enough to extend 300mm beyond all sides of the tank.

In some conditions you may have to have an additional bund (secondary containment) around the tank. You’ll need a bund if your tank’s in any of the following places:

  • where oil spills could run into an open drain or a loose manhole cover
  • where the tank vent pipes cannot be seen when the tank’s being filled, for example because the delivery tanker is parked too far away
  • within 10 metres of coastal waters or inland fresh waters like lakes or streams
  • within 50 metres of a drinking water source, for example wells, boreholes or springs
  • where oil spills could run over hard ground and reach coastal waters, inland fresh waters or a drinking water source
  • in the inner zone of groundwater source protection zone 1

The bund must be able to hold 110% of the tank’s capacity and be impermeable to oil and water.

For your own and your family’s safety it is advisable to have your heating system checked at least once a year, not only to ensure the boiler is mechanically sound and working properly but also to ensure that waste gases are passing safety up the flue that the flue discharge point is safely positioned so that flue gases will disperse quickly, will not re-enter the property via windows, doors, etc and will not cause nuisance to property owners or neighbours.

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