The regulations don't apply to everyone, so find out if your oil storage is exempt.
Is grease exempt from the Oil Storage Regulations 2001?
Not necessarily. We may ask for grease to be stored on a drip tray, but we expect that containers are either below 200 litres or stored indoors.
Do heat transfer fluids come under the regulations?
No, oil in the transformer is being used rather than stored.
But bulk storage tanks are regarded as oil in storage and are covered by the OSR England, unless the exemptions apply.
Some transformer header tanks may also come under this category, if they are greater than 200 litres and connected directly to the transformer by a one-way, tank to transformer, feed pipe.
If the transformer has an expansion tank, the container is regarded as being part of the transformer with oil in use and is exempt from OSR England.
Transformers in storage awaiting installation or disposal are not normally regarded as oil storage containers.
Are bitumen and bitumen products exempt?
There is no specific exemption for bitumen. However, where products are solid or near solid at ambient temperatures, it is impractical to provide secondary containment.
Defra and ourselves accept that these storage facilities don't come under the regulations.
Bitumen-based products that are liquid at ambient temperatures should be stored in line with the regulations.
What is a building?
The term 'building' is not defined in OSR England, but is defined in the Building Regulations 2000 as being a permanent or temporary building, or part of a building. The definition excludes other kind of structure.
We interpret this definition to mean a construction with both walls and a roof, rather than a framed tent or supported roof.
The building should provide the necessary secondary containment to prevent oil escaping into the environment. A simple risk assessment would show whether oil could escape.
We can enforce the requirement to provide secondary containment for oil storage facilities within buildings using our powers under Section 161A Water Resources Act 1991 (works notices) or civil sanctions.
Secondary containment for tanks within buildings may be a requirement of the building regulations, for example, fire safety. We recommend you check with your local authority to see if this applies to you.
Is oil stored in a generator covered by OSR England?
Oil storage rules only apply to generators and associated oil containers where the oil is being stored, rather than used, and where no other exemptions, such as the oil being stored within a building, apply. If possible use commercially available generators with built-in secondary containment for the storage or day tank.
Oil storage rules don’t apply to ‘day job’ generators that:
- are taken to and from a job on a daily basis, and
- have a day tank capacity of 200 litres or less, and
- where the oil is all used during an operating day, and
- the generator is stored with an empty day tank when not in use.
Oil storage rules do apply to:
- are either taken to and from a job on a daily basis or are in constant use, and
- have a day tank with a capacity of more than 200 litres, and
- where the oil isn’t all used in the operating day.
Stand-by generators not in continual use that:
- have a day tank of greater than 200 litres capacity, and
- are storing oil for later use.
Day tanks for both the above require 110 per cent secondary containment.
Oil storage tanks that:
- supply a generator (in full time or standby use), or
- are used to fill up other mobile generator day tanks, and
- hold more than 200 litres.
It‘s good practice to provide secondary containment for all generators, tanks and their associated pipework to catch any spills or leaks – whether or not you must comply with the OSR England. If they don’t have secondary containment the potential for harm to the environment from an oil spill is high.
Generator housings will not normally be regarded as buildings under the regulations.
Is oil held at a distribution site exempt from OSR England?
Yes, a distribution site is exempt if onward distribution is the primary business of the site. The exemption applies to the whole site and all above ground oil storage is exempt.
You should follow the requirements in ‘Environmental guidelines for petroleum distribution installations’ published by the Energy Institute. And meet the OSR England standards, where practicable, to minimise risks to the environment.
Is oil used in domestic premises exempt?
Yes, providing the oil storage container has a capacity of 3,500 litres or less. Above 3,500 litres you must comply with these regulations.
We recommend you read the following publication to help you understand how to look after your oil tank:
Building regulations also apply to all new, or replacement, oil storage tanks used for heating and cooking, regardless of their capacity.
Under OSR England:
- Holiday homes, bed and breakfast and rented accommodation are viewed as being domestic premises.
- An office within a house would be exempt if the building is used wholly, or mainly, as a private dwelling.
- Residential care homes aren't exempt as they're not used wholly, or mainly, as a private dwelling.
New and replacement above ground oil storage tanks for home heating and cooking are covered by the Building Regulations 2000, Approved Document J. A risk assessment must be done to find out if your tank needs secondary containment.
If oil storage at your home is not covered by the above details you should follow the good practice guidance in the following Pollution Prevention Guidance document:
Oil storage compliance on farms
The Control of Pollution (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) Regulations 2010 (SSAFO) cover the storage of oil used for heating and/or power on premises as defined by the Agriculture Act 1947, which includes horticulture, fruit growing, seed growing, market gardens and nursery grounds.
The Oil Storage Regulations don't apply to the storage of any oil on farms if the oil is for use in connection with agriculture within the meaning of the Agriculture Act 1947.
If the oil is stored for a secondary farm business, for example a haulage company, this must comply with the OSR England.
Do the regulations cover any waste oils?
Yes. The exemption for waste oil is based on the definition of waste oil within the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations (EPR) 2010.
This definition, in regulation 2, calls waste oils ‘mineral based lubricating or industrial oil which has become unfit for the use for which it was originally intended and, in particular, used combustion engine oil, gearbox oil, mineral lubricating oil, oil for turbines and hydraulic oil’. Waste mineral oils are regulated under the EPR by either a permit or an exemption.
We will include comparable storage standards as a condition of your permit.
The EPR definition doesn't include vegetable or synthetic oils, so waste vegetable and cooking oils and synthetic waste oils come under the OSR England.
The storage of mixed mineral and synthetic waste oils falls under the scope of the EPR.
Previously used oil, for example oil that has been drained from vehicle engines, that is stored for use in space heaters is waste oil. If you are storing this where it is produced (emptied from the vehicles) it is covered by a non registerable exemption under Paragraph 2 of Part 3 in Schedule 25 to the EPR 2010. You must store this in a secure place so that it can’t escape. We recommend you store the waste oil container on or in secondary containment.
Do the regulations cover mobile bowsers used at permitted waste sites?
Mobile bowsers, or storage trailers, used at all permitted waste sites, must comply with OSR England.
OSR England don't apply if the bowsers store waste mineral oils. Waste oil storage must comply with the Environmental Permitting Regulations, see question above.
Clarification on underground and part buried tanks
The OSR England exempt any containers which are ‘wholly underground’, see our definition below. These oil containers don’t have to meet the minimum requirements of the OSR, but should follow the guidance in the Environment Agency ‘Groundwater Protection: Principles and Practice (GP3)’ guidance.
We don’t consider a part buried tank to be wholly underground and these tanks must meet the requirements of the OSR England in full. Underground storage constitutes storage whereby the tank is not wholly visible on a permanent basis and/or isn’t accessible from ground level.
Any tank that is partially set in the ground (part buried) in a secondary containment system and is totally accessible and wholly visible will be considered to be an above ground tank and will need to comply with the Oil Storage Regulations (in England).
How do the OSR England work with other European tank manufacturing standards?
There are European tank manufacturing standards that don’t require tanks to have a minimum of 110% secondary containment capacity.
The requirements of the OSR England would take precedence for oil storage in England, unless the European standards are contained in legislation. Legislation (Acts, Regulations, Orders) take precedence over standards published in non-legislative documents. So the 110% containment provision is a legal requirement that has to be met, but a tank without 110% secondary containment capacity can be placed within a containment system that meets the requirement.