Western Telegraph: Harlequin MD Laurance CoeyHarlequin MD Laurance Coey

Laurance Coey, Managing Director of tank manufacturer Harlequin and Chairman of the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC), the UK’s only trade association of oil tank producers, discusses how the new oil storage regulations will immensely benefit businesses in Wales and the advantages of using a bunded oil tank.

All owners of commercial premises in Wales are being urged to upgrade oil and fuel tanks as soon as possible ahead of the March 2020 deadline or face significant financial penalties.

Any commercial property, including businesses, schools, offices, restaurants and even churches, with an aboveground fuel storage tank capable of holding 200 litres or more of heating oil or diesel is required to have a secondary containment system in place to safeguard the environment against potential pollution incidents under rules brought in by the Welsh Government.

The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage, Wales) regulations were drawn up in 2016 and offered owners of commercial premises four years to bring their sites up to standard.

Failure to have installed a secondary containment system by the March 31, 2020, deadline will lead to prosecution and fines of up to £5,000.

Understanding the regulations

All modern tanks already comply with the regulations. The challenge is to ensure that all those responsible for commercial properties have changed or upgraded their old tanks ahead of the deadline. The regulations are retrospective so it is not a case of waiting until the tanks need to be changed, all tanks must meet the regulations by the end of March.

In terms of understanding whether the regulations apply to you, the equation is simple: if you are receiving heating oil or diesel for your business, then they do. Fuel stores must go into a tank with a secondary containment system such as a bunded tank.

Unlike older, single skin, fuel storage tanks, a bunded tank is a tank within a tank. The new regulations require that the secondary (outer) tank has a 110 per cent capacity compared to the inner tank, thereby ensuring that all spills and leaks are contained safely.

The biggest cause of pollution in relation to fuel storage tanks is overspill when the oilman comes to deliver. If fuel comes over the top of the tank as it is being filled or if there is a catastrophic failure as it is being filled, then a bunded tank will contain the excess fuel. In a single skin tank that overspill is a pollution incident. The bund acts as an extra safety layer.

Role of insurance companies

While the potential of a £5,000 fine should ensure all commercial premises owners are in the process of upgrading their facilities, insurance companies will also be a key driver in pushing through the changes. Insurance issues will come into effect and failure to comply with the regulations will have serious consequences going forward for policy holders.

Business owners should act now

With the deadline fast approaching, and winter traditionally a busy time for tank installers, commercial premises owners need to act soon. Currently, demand means installation is taking between four and six weeks. Anyone who has not begun the process by the end of January may well find themselves falling foul of the law due simply to increased demand. Since this is a specialised industry, only approved installers can carry out the necessary work. Fortunately, Wales has a good number of specialist installers, but this is not something that can be left until the last minute.

Benefits of using a bunded tank

There is a legal requirement to upgrade to comply ahead of the deadline, but people also need to realise that there are other benefits to installing bunded tanks in the longer term. The main reasoning behind the regulations are environmental, but early adopters of bunded tanks are already seeing the benefits so premises owners need to act soon to avoid facing substantial fines and ensure their fuel supplies remain healthy in the future.

Bunded tanks for Biofuels

The move towards biofuels will mean bunded tanks become even more important in future. Biofuels tend to be very aggressive due to their detergent action and eat away at the inside of older tanks so a bunded tank provides extra protection. Ultimately the main thing with bunded tanks is environmental protection, but with regards to biodiesel, the design of bunded tanks provides a layer of insulation which as well as protecting the environment also protects the fuel because it lessens the problem of water ingress and ensures the fuel stays healthy.

To learn more, go to: www.harlequin-mfg.com