Prevent groundwater pollution from underground fuel storage tanks

The groundwater protection code of practice on how to prevent pollution from petrol, diesel and other fuel tanks.

You should use this code of practice if you store petrol, diesel, heating fuel, waste oils or other ‘petroleum hydrocarbons’ in an underground storage tank (UST). For example, if you:

  • own or operate UST facilities
  • design or construct UST facilities
  • are involved in decommissioning UST facilities

This code has advice and good practice on how to protect groundwater when storing liquid fuels in USTs. This code offers the best environmental options for facilities but it isn’t a detailed list of procedures you must follow in all cases. You’ll need to adapt elements to suit your facilities.

By following this code you should avoid having to apply for an environmental permit issued under the Environmental Permitting Regulations. You must still follow existing codes, guidance and laws, like health and safety regulations.

This code doesn’t cover the following (although the general principles may apply):

  • liquefied natural gas
  • liquefied petroleum gas
  • storing hydrocarbons in above ground tanks


By using this code you will be able to demonstrate that you have taken steps to avoid pollution and are complying with your legal requirements under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations, 2010. You must also follow applicable guidance and laws like the health and safety regulations.

The Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales would look at if you followed or are likely to follow the code when deciding whether to serve a notice on you under the Environmental Permitting Regulations, 2010. Such notices can include the requirement for you to get a permit, or to stop your activities on site. Failure to comply with a notice is also a criminal offence.

The Blue Book and technical information

If you need detailed technical information on installation, decommissioning and removing USTs you should read the Association for Petroleum and Explosives Administration and Energy Industry’s Blue Book.

You can also get advice on the technical requirements for your specific system from your local petroleum licensing and enforcing authority.

  1. Assessing and preparing for risks for an underground storage tank What you need to review before installing or using an underground storage tank for fuel.
  2. Installing an underground storage tank How to install an underground storage tank, pipes and related equipment.
  3. Using an underground storage tank How to use an underground storage tank safely to minimise the risk to groundwater.
  4. Decommissioning an underground storage tank How to decommission an underground storage tank temporarily or permanently and the risks to groundwater.
  5. Training staff What to train your staff and where you can get training courses and materials.