Preventing oil spills will save you from all the issues associated with having a spill, the loss of oil, the potential injury to workers, damage to your structures, downtime for dealing with the spill, internal and external (e.g. Environment Agency) investigations, insurance claims and subsequent premium hikes, etc.
Sensible planning and maintenance can help reduce the chance of a spill happening; training your staff to respond to a spill can reduce the impact of a spill.
1) Basic maintenance of storage tanks, bowsers, bunds (secondary and tertiary containment), hoses,
pipelines and anything used to store or transport fuels is essential. A lot of the spills we respond to result from long term weathering / wearing out of tanks, seals and pipe joints.
2) Site Management – positioning tanks in areas where they are unlikely to be impacted by site vehicles will reduce the chance of accidental collisions. Ensure that all tanks are in appropriately sized protective bunds.
Guidance on bund size and maintenance is widely available. EA Guidance can be found here. A general guide for sizing is that bunds must be 110% of the volume of one tank. Where bunds hold multiple tanks then the volume of the bund should be the greater of either the 110% rule, or 25% of the total volume of all of the tanks in the bund.
Spill Response Plan
1) Make sure you have the right spill response equipment on your site. You need to have equipment which will enable a proportionate response to be carried out. For example if you have a river next to your site, you’ll need the right equipment to block surface water drains and be able to contain oil on the water, such as absorbent booms. If you’re planning on doing the response yourself then make sure a sufficient number of your staff are trained in oil spill response equipment deployment.
2) Have an accredited spill response contractor contact on your emergency preparedness plan. There are a 3 main approaches to this, employing a responder on retainer will get you the best results but isn’t for everyone’s budget, informing the local responders about your site and telling them what risks you have (e.g. volumes and locations of tanks) is a step down and may not guarantee you a response when you call, i.e. only if they have the time, or the lowest level is just to have a local responder contact in a handy location, should the worst happen then you at least have a starting point for someone to arrive with their standard call out equipment.
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