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OFTEC and NI Environment Agency

Launch Oil Tank Safety Campaign For Householders

 12th February 2015: The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC), which represents the oil heating and cooking industry, joined forces today to launch a campaign on oil tank safety awareness for Northern Ireland householders.

 The campaign, backed by Northern Ireland Environment Minister Mark H Durkan, aims to raise awareness of the importance of safe oil storage tank usage and maintenance setting out some simple steps to ensure both secure storage and protection for the environment from spillages.

 With approximately 68 per cent of households in Northern Ireland using home heating oil to heat their homes, the NIEA and OFTEC have provided householders with advice and information on best practice, alongside information to ensure tanks are compliant with current legislative requirements. 

David Blevings, OFTEC Ireland Manager said: “Steel and Plastic oil tanks provide safe and sound storage for home heating oil throughout the year. They sit in the garden and endure rain, frost, snow and even some sunshine. Like all products, they have a definitive lifespan and the aim of our joint campaign with NIEA is to remind householders that oil tanks should be installed and serviced appropriately.”

 NIEA and OFTEC recommendations for householders with Oil Fired Central Heating:

  • Book an annual service – as well as regular visual checks, it is important to have your oil tank inspected annually by a competent person such as one who is OFTEC Registered. This could be done at the same time as the boiler service. During a service visit, the technician should check the general condition of the oil storage tank and oil supply pipes. The technician should also check the stored fuel for the presence of water, replace the filter element and check all fittings for any oil leaks.
  • Replace older tanks – If cared for properly, a tank can last up for up to 20 years. But if your tank is older than this, it’s on borrowed time and may need replaced. Oil losses, even at the domestic scale can be expensive for householders to remediate, particularly when neighbouring dwellings are also impacted.
  • Check for spills – a competent person, such as an OFTEC registered technician, can help you avoid expensive clean-up costs, which are often excluded from home insurance policies.
  • Check your oil tank regularly – to ensure all caps, lids and vents are secure. This is vital to prevent damage from rainwater and other contaminants.
  • A good solid base – all plastic oil tanks must be fully supported by a flat, level, solid, fireproof base that extends 300mm beyond the tank perimeter and meets current building control requirements. An annual safety check will confirm your base is in good condition.
  • Extra care if near a waterway – if your tank is near a waterway or drain you may have to replace your tank with an integrally bunded tank (a tank within a tank that can hold 110% of the contents). An integrally bunded tank provides a secondary containment system designed to prevent fuel lost from the tank escaping into the environment. For domestic tanks, advice is available from your Council’s Building Control Officer.
  • Report contamination immediately – if you have an oil spillage or have concerns about contamination or pollution of land or waterwayscall the NIEA Water Pollution Hotline 0800 807060.

 In the last 2 years, 75% of confirmed oil pollution incidents were at domestic premises. Many of these incidents could be avoided by taking simple steps outlined above. 

 NIEA is the regulatory authority regarding compliance with the Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 [OSR2010]. The principal requirement of OSR2010 is that oil stored in above ground containers over 200 litres, in commercial, institutional and industrial properties, and those over 3500 litres, in domestic premises, must be kept within secondary containment with 110% capacity. Further guidance on OSR2010 is available here

 For further information, oil householders should visit www.oftec.org or http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/ or telephone OFTEC on 08456002105 or NIEA on 02892623173. 

About OFTEC

OFTEC is the Oil Firing Technical Association and represents the domestic oil heating and cooking industry in the UK and Republic of Ireland. OFTEC runs a not-for-profit trade association for the manufacturers of oil fired equipment and a licensed, competent persons scheme for the technicians who install, commission and service oil-fired equipment.

 OFTEC has over 10,000 registered businesses and technicians throughout Ireland and the UK who are qualified and insured to work in your home. A list of OFTEC registered technicians can be found at www.oftec.org.