Underground storage tank FAQs

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Underground storage tanks can be used for many purposes, including holding water or fuel and as a septic tank. Every petrol station has a number of tanks, as do many industrial, commercial and agricultural sites. Underground tanks are subject to government management regulations; therefore, you need to know what to do before you install one, if you have one currently, or if you want to decommission one.

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What do I need to do before installing a tank?

You need to be able to show, in writing, that you have carried out an environmental risk assessment, have engineering facilities that will prevent pollution, have effective systems and controls, and have prepared robust plans and procedures in case of an emergency. Your risk assessment must take account of how vulnerable the ground water is and what would happen if your product leaked.

I’ve bought land with a tank on it. What are my responsibilities?

As with a new tank, you will have to carry out a full risk assessment and you may find that the old tank does not meet some of the engineering requirements that are now necessary. You may therefore have to retrofit some of the facilities, such as leak detectors.

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I want to install new pipework. Who do I need to tell?

If you are making any significant changes to the tank or its connecting infrastructure, you will need to meet any requirements that emerged as part of the risk assessment, any Environment Agency requirements, and any planning conditions. There may be other regulations to comply with, depending on where the tank is sited.

I want to decommission a tank. What do I need to do?

All tank decommissioning, whether permanent or temporary, is subject to government controls. You will need a full environmental risk assessment and must make sure the tank can be bottomed safely. Soil and groundwater samples need to be taken before and after the tank decommissioning.

What do I do with the empty tank?

If the tank is being left on site, it needs to be filled with specific materials. Oil and water separators must be lawfully disposed of, away from the site. The compliance regime is detailed and fairly demanding; therefore, it is almost certainly a good idea to use a professional remediation service to advise on compliance for your particular site.

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