Above Ground Oil Storage Tanks (PPG2)

10. Looking after your tank

The oil tank user guide 'Get to know your oil tank', Reference 17, contains simplified guidance on looking after your tank. Make sure you have a copy as it includes space for you to record essential information about your tank including when it’s last annual check was.

Your tank manufacturer will be able to tell you what regular maintenance your tank needs. Use a registered competent technician to check your tanks, secondary containment and pipework every year and remove any condensation water that has accumulated within the tank. You should receive a written report on the state of your tank after the inspection is completed. Any repairs or alterations detailed in the report should be done by a registered, competent technician straightaway.

You should also inspect all accessible parts of your tank, secondary containment, ancillary equipment and pipework regularly, for signs of damage or leaks. If you’re unsure how frequently you should do this, contact us for advice. If you notice any damage, you should have it repaired or replaced immediately.

To make sure a constructed bund retains its integrity, use a reputable company to repair any defects in the bund wall or lining promptly.

Keep a log of the inspections, any repair work on your tanks and who's done it.

Record oil usage. Regularly make a note of how much oil is in your tank and compare this to your previous usage. Contact us if you need advice about methods of monitoring your oil use and how often. If you’re suddenly using more oil and you can’t explain why, this could indicate a problem with your tank or pipework. You should ask a registered, competent technician to check your tank and pipework for faults and make any repairs immediately.

Removing rain water. If you have a tank in an open bund, check the bund after heavy rainfall. If there’s no rainwater in the bund, it might not be sealed properly and you should have it inspected and repaired. If rain water has collected in your bund, it will reduce the amount of oil it can contain. If it’s necessary to remove accumulated rainwater, we recommend you do this with a manually operated pump or by bailing from the sump. Advice on disposal of bund water from domestic oil storage is available, (see Reference 19). In remote locations, you could use automatic systems that can distinguish between the oil and water in the bund. If you install one of these systems, you need to contact us for advice on where you can dispose of the discharge.

In the long term, it may be more cost-effective to construct a roof over the tank and secondary containment.

Water taken out of the bund might be contaminated. Any accumulated water, oil or debris should be removed and disposed of in line with waste management legislation. In all cases where wastes are removed, as the waste producer you are obliged under the Duty of Care (see Reference 20) to describe the waste accurately and dispose of it properly.

In England and Wales, waste contaminated with oil is classed as hazardous waste unless you can show there is under 0.1% oil.

In Scotland, waste contaminated with oil is classed as special waste, unless you can show there is under 0.1% oil. To establish if enough oil is present to make a waste special, a generic threshold of 0.1% may be used; however, if the result is below this, there may still be other hazards that make the waste special, such as flammability or toxicity, or the presence of other contaminants; for further information, see Reference 21.

A consignment note system applies for disposal of these hazardous or special wastes. For more details about waste oils, see either PPG8 (Reference 8) or our websites.

Don't use bunds as a store for materials or wastes as this will reduce their capacity and create a fire hazard.

What you should do with your old tank
Make sure that a tank is fully drained, degassed and certified when it’s taken out of use and before it’s removed. Only suitably qualified and competent technicians should do this work. Never carry out work that heats the tank until after it has been degassed and the appropriate certificate issued (see Reference 22). Under waste management legislation, decommissioned tanks taken off site must be removed by a licensed waste carrier and must be accompanied by a waste transfer note. Tanks can only be disposed of at an appropriately licensed facility. Contact us to find your nearest site.

After your tank has been decommissioned or removed, check that the surrounding soil or groundwater hasn't been contaminated. This can include testing surface and subsurface soil and groundwater samples for products relating to what you were storing. If contamination is found, take action as soon as possible to remove the pollution. Make sure you repeat the testing after the work has been done to ensure all the contamination has been removed. For more information see Reference 1 or contact us.

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