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  • Writer's picturePinnock Brothers

Dealing With Oil Tank Leaks: Responsibilities and Clean-Up

Are you ready to tackle an oil tank leak head-on?

Dealing with these leaks requires swift action and a clear understanding of your responsibilities.

In this article, we'll guide you through the necessary steps and proper procedures for containment and clean-up.

Whether it's a tank failure or damaged equipment, it's crucial to identify the source and stop the leak as quickly as possible.

By following our advice, you'll be well-prepared to handle oil tank leaks responsibly and effectively.

This guidance is intended to help householders take appropriate action after a spill. It has no legal status other than guidance.

Key Takeaways

  • Oil tank leaks can occur due to various reasons such as failure of the tank body, damage to equipment, or wear-and-tear of fuel feed lines.

  • Anyone who uses, stores, transports, or manufactures hazardous substances like oil is responsible for containment and proper usage to prevent environmental releases.

  • Property owners or residents should ensure adequate home insurance coverage for spill assessment, clean-up, and any land or ground effects.

  • In the event of a spill or leak, it is important to act quickly, contact the insurance company, ventilate the area, switch off the oil supply, and try to locate and stop the source of the leak. Additionally, proper handling and containment techniques should be employed to prevent the spread of the spilled oil and relevant authorities should be contacted if the spill may affect water supplies or environments.

Reasons for Oil Tank Leaks

If you're dealing with an oil tank leak, it's important to understand the reasons behind it. Preventing oil tank leaks is crucial to avoid environmental damage and costly clean-up procedures. Signs of an oil tank leak may include strong smells of oil, visible drips or spills around the tank, or sudden increases in fuel consumption.

Several factors can contribute to oil tank leaks, such as failure of the tank body, damage to equipment on the tank, wear-and-tear of fuel feed lines, or failure of components at the boiler end of the system. Metal tanks can rust through, while plastic tanks can split due to age or inherent defects.

To prevent leaks, regular maintenance, inspections, and prompt repair of any damage are necessary.

Responsibility for Dealing With Spills

You are responsible for containing and addressing oil spills if you use, store substances like oil. It's important to understand the environmental consequences of oil spills and to take proactive measures to prevent and mitigate them.

In order to ensure that you're prepared for spills, it's crucial to have insurance coverage that includes oil spill assessment, clean-up, and land or ground effects. Insurance companies may appoint a specialist contractor for spills covered by the policy. However, if you don't have insurance coverage, you'll need to appoint a specialist contractor yourself. It's essential to act quickly in the event of a spill or leak and to contact your insurance company for guidance.

Steps to Take in the Event of a Spill or Leak

Prompt action is crucial in addressing a spill or leak, ensuring containment and prevention of further environmental damage. To effectively respond to an oil tank spill or leak, follow these steps:

1. Emergency response: Act quickly and contact your insurance company to report the suspected oil leak. Don't delay or assume the problem will resolve itself. They can provide guidance and assistance in addressing the situation.

2. Containment: Switch off the oil supply at the tank and try to locate and stop the source of the leak. Use a bucket to catch any dripping oil. Ventilate the area, keep children and pets away. Avoid direct contact with the oil. Avoid getting oil on your skin and clothing. Wash your hands and don’t smoke, eat or drink when or after you are in contact with the oil.

3. Proper handling and containment: Prevent the spilled oil from spreading and entering drains or waterways. Use absorbing materials like earth, sand, cat litter, or commercial products to contain the spill. If necessary, temporarily repair metal tanks with sealant or rub soap into splits of plastic tanks. Additionally, oil-soaked items should be stored in leak-proof containers until they can be disposed of correctly and legally.

4. Contact relevant authorities: If the spill may affect water supplies or water environments, contact the appropriate authorities such as Environmental health for further guidance and assistance.

Taking prompt action and following these steps will help minimize the environmental impact of an oil tank spill or leak. Remember, safety and containment should be the top priorities in this situation.

Clean-Up Requirements and Procedures

After properly handling and containing spills from oil tank leaks, it's now crucial to address the clean-up requirements and procedures. Here are four important steps to consider:

1. Engage specialist environmental contractors: Clean-up works are typically carried out by these experts who've the necessary skills and equipment to handle the task effectively. They ensure proper remediation and waste disposal, minimizing the environmental impact.

2. Contact your insurance company: If your policy covers clean-up expenses, the insurance company may appoint a specialist contractor to handle the clean-up process. They'll assess the situation and provide the necessary support.

3. Consider hiring a contractor: For minor spills, you may choose to clear up yourself or hire a contractor. Ensure that the contractor has the appropriate clean-up equipment and expertise to handle the job safely.

4. Consult with the Environmental Health: 0800 80 70 60. They can provide guidance on the safe disposal and treatment of contaminated soils or waters. They can assess the environmental impact and offer advice on appropriate clean-up procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is There a Minimum Amount of Oil That Needs to Be Spilled in Order to Require Clean-Up?

If you spill even a drop of oil, it's your legal responsibility to clean it up. There's no minimum amount for clean-up. Take action immediately to prevent environmental harm and contact authorities if needed.

2. What Are the Potential Health Risks Associated With Cleaning up an Oil Spill?

Cleaning up an oil spill can pose potential long term health risks. Exposure to oil and its chemicals may lead to respiratory issues, skin irritation, and even long-term damage to organs. Additionally, the environmental impact can be devastating.

3. How Are Oil-Soaked Items Disposed of Legally and Correctly?

To dispose of oil-soaked items legally and correctly, you must follow proper disposal methods. This helps minimize the environmental impact. Use leak-proof containers to store the items until they can be disposed of by a specialist contractor or according to local regulations.

4. Are There Any Government Agencies or Authorities That Should Be Notified in the Event of a Spill?

When dealing with oil tank leaks, it is important to notify government agencies to fulfil your responsibilities. Prompt notification of the spill ensures proper clean-up and prevents further environmental damage. Report an environmental incident - GOV.UK ( UK and Ireland Spill Association


In the event of an oil tank leak, it's crucial to act swiftly and responsibly. By understanding the reasons behind these leaks and knowing your responsibilities, you can effectively handle the situation.

Taking proper steps such as containment, clean-up, and contacting your insurance company is essential. Remember, time is of the essence, and by following the guidance provided, you can ensure a thorough and effective response to oil tank leaks.

Your quick and responsible actions will help prevent environmental damage and protect our natural resources.


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