Warning over safety of households' oil storage tanks

Some of the 21,000 oil tanks used by households across Sussex may be close or at the end of their 20 year design life.

From left, OFTEC Chairman Nick Hawkins, Director Commercial Operations at Kingspan Environmental; OFTEC CEO Paul Rose; FPS Training & Technical Manager, Tony Brown; FPS Marketing & Events Manager Dawn Shakespeare; and FPS President, Duncan Grant.

And homes across the county which use oil for heating are being reminded to check their storage tanks are still fit for purpose as part of a new initiative launched this week.

The ‘Tank Safe’ campaign, run by the trade associations for oil heating OFTEC and the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS), is in response to feedback from technicians and oil distributors.

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These older tanks need to be replaced with modern ‘bunded’ models to minimise the risk of leaks which can prove costly to both the householder and the environment.

Homeowners also need to be aware that they are responsible for the condition of their tank.

The trade associations say that a well maintained tank will help to ensure a heating system is running at maximum efficiency, enabling consumers to save energy and reduce their fuel bills.

However, there is concern that some households may put off tank inspections in an attempt to save money on a replacement and that unregistered technicians may not be checking oil tanks as part of an annual service to keep their costs competitive.

‘Tank Safe’ aims to highlight these issues with OFTEC technicians working alongside FPS fuel distributors to raise awareness amongst households of the importance of looking after their oil tanks and offering advice on how best to manage their condition.

A short information video for households has also been produced together with advice and answers to common questions which are available for free on the dedicated ‘Oilsave website’ (www.oilsave.org.uk).

Paul Rose, CEO of OFTEC, said: “Tanks are often the forgotten part of an oil heating system but it is vitally important their condition is maintained to ensure safe oil storage. Fortunately, oil leaks are rare but the consequences of a spill can be high, causing not only inconvenience and cost to the homeowner, but a serious environmental issue.

“Neglecting a tank is clearly false economy and our new ‘Tank Safe’ campaign aims to get across the importance of having a safe, secure and regularly checked tank. Tanks should be inspected by a competent person, such as an OFTEC registered technician, at least once a year or at the time of the boiler service, and we recommend that homeowners check they have adequate home insurance in place to cover the oil tank and its contents.”

Duncan Grant, President of the FPS, added: “Each year we receive some reports from our fuel distributors of tanks which have split on filling or even days later. It’s important for households to have their tanks checked by a qualified technician to ensure it is in the best condition and to be alert to potential problems before they happen. Losing a tank of oil could be expensive but this cost is minimal compared to the potential cost to clear up a spill.”

Further information and advice can be found at www.oilsave.org.uk.