Press release

Take time to check your oil tank

Autumn is here and it is the time of year when many households will be getting oil delivered ready for winter.

Oil on the ground boomed to contain it
Prevent scenes like this by checking your oil tank

It is also the time of year when the Environment Agency urges people to check their oil tanks to protect the environment and reduce the risk of potentially large financial losses.

Environment Officer Alison Hyman said:

Heating oil can cause serious problems if it gets into the environment. It can pollute rivers, harm wildlife and contaminate ground and drinking water. But it’s not just the cost of losing the oil that can be expensive, clean up costs can be large and are not always covered by household insurance policies.

This is why it is vital that oil is only ever stored in tanks that are in good condition. Both the tank and pipe work should be regularly inspected and people should never buy more oil than they can safely store.

Householders with domestic oil tanks should take the following action to ensure they are safe for use.

  • Site tanks as far away as possible from drains, streams and ponds.

  • Inspect tanks, pipes and other equipment for leaks, damage and interference once a week. Any problems should be fixed as soon as possible by an Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) technician. For more information visit

  • Arrange for the boiler and tank to be serviced at least once a year by an (OFTEC) technician. This should include any underground pipe work.

  • Monitor how much oil you use. If the volume of oil being used suddenly increases, there could be a leak.

  • Supervise oil deliveries. Never allow your tank to be overfilled and do not order more oil than you can safely store.

  • Check your home insurance covers clean up costs on both your property and neighbouring land. Always notify insurers immediately in the event of a spill or suspected spill.

  • If a tank starts leaking. Try to stop the oil soaking into the ground or going down drains. Contact your insurance company to arrange for an OFTEC technician or UKSpill-accredited clean-up company. For more information visit

  • Secondary containment (such as a bund) will prevent oil from escaping into the environment if a leak occurs. This is a legal requirement for domestic tanks which store more than 3,500 litres.

To report an oil spill or leak, people should contact the Environment Agency’s 24-hour emergency hotline on 0800 807060.

Published 23 September 2014