Do You Need To Call The Environment Agency For An Oil Spill?

Thursday 4th April 2024

Joanna Grimbley-Smith

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Specialist cleaners cleaning up an oil spill CONTENTS

Oil spills can have devastating consequences, particularly when they spill in the environment, such as in a body of water or on soil. A quick, appropriate response is critical to minimise the damage a spill can cause and make the affected area safe again. 

Here at ICE Cleaning, we offer our emergency response oil spill cleanup services nationwide. If it is an emergency, our trained specialist cleaners can be on site within a matter of hours. They have many years of experience cleaning up a range of oils including kerosene, diesel, and petrol. 

Read on to learn about the oil spill reporting requirements in the UK. 

What is the Environment Agency?

The Environment Agency is a non-departmental public body that is sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The agency’s responsibilities span from regulating waste treatment to maintaining river levels for irrigation and ensuring a clean water supply. One of its most critical duties involves managing environmental incidents, like oil spills. 

How to report an oil spill

If an oil spill occurs and enters the environment, you must contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 and notify them of a spill. Failing to do so can lead to potential legal repercussions as well as significant environmental damage. 

You should also contact them to report other environmental incidents such as damaged or collapsed river banks, dead fish, poaching, illegal fishing, and blockages to main rivers. 

What are the oil spill regulations in the UK?

In the UK, managing and mitigating environmental hazards like oil spills is governed by a comprehensive framework of laws and guidelines. These regulations are crucial for homeowners, landlords, tenants, and businesses alike to understand – especially when facing an accidental spill. 

The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001

This set of regulations mandates how oils should be stored safely to prevent pollution. It applies specifically if you store more than 200 litres of oil on your property. Key requirements include having secondary containment systems like bunds or drip trays around tanks or containers that hold oil, ensuring they can contain at least 110% volume of the tank's capacity. 

The Environmental Protection Act 1990

This act outlines duties concerning waste management and control over hazardous substances including oils. Under this legislation, causing harm or potential harm through contamination is considered an offence with possible legal repercussions for those found negligent. 

You can learn more about the relevant legislation to oil spills here

What to do when oil spills

If you discover an oil spill on your property, acting swiftly is key. If you have a spill kit on site and are trained to use it, stop the oil from spilling (if safe to do so), contain the spill with the materials provided by the kit, and soak up the spilled oil with absorbent materials. You should then dispose of the waste according to local regulations. 

If you are not trained to clean up an oil spill, you must contact oil spill clean-up professionals immediately who will contain and clean up the oil, and then dispose of the hazardous waste. 

Should oil have spilled into the environment, you should first contact an oil spill cleaning company and then report the oil spill to the Environment Agency. Some companies, like us, here at ICE Cleaning, also offer environmental consultancy with our oil spill cleaning services. 

This means an environmental consultant will sample and test the soil, and determine the phases of work required to clean up the oil, as well as ensure our technicians clean up the oil in a way that minimises damage to the environment. 

Should a spill happen in the workplace, you will need to take additional steps to keep staff safe and minimise damage to the property. You can find out more in this blog

How to prevent oil spills

Maintain your oil tanks regularly

Routine maintenance is crucial for spotting potential leaks or weaknesses in your oil tank system before they lead to spills. Ensure that inspections are carried out annually by a professional technician who can assess and repair any damage promptly.

Install bunds around your tank

Bunds act as a secondary containment measure, catching any oil that may leak from the primary tank. Installing bunds around your tanks significantly reduces the risk of soil or water contamination due to leaks or overflows.

Monitor fuel levels closely

Avoid overfilling your tank by monitoring fuel levels during delivery and using an accurate gauge. 

Educate yourself on handling procedures

Familiarise yourself with proper handling procedures for fuel and understand what measures need immediate implementation if you detect a leak or spillage. Quick responses can mitigate environmental impact substantially until professional help arrives.

You can learn more about how to prevent oil spills in this blog

Contact us today

We operate day and night, 365 days a year, including bank holidays. To learn more about our oil spill cleaning services and find out how we can help you, get in touch with our team on 0208 066 0360 or email enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk.

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Melissa Harrison

Melissa Harrison

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