Pollution of a watercourse, groundwater or the sea (controlled waters) by oil is a common type of water pollution incident dealt with by the environment agencies. Many such incidents are caused by leaks and spills from storage facilities, eg unbunded storage tanks.

Each country within the UK has its own legislation governing oil storage, as follows:

  • The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001 (as amended) in England.

  • The Water Resources (Control of Pollution) (Oil Storage) (Wales) Regulations 2016 (as amended) in Wales.

  • The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 (as amended) in Northern Ireland.

  • Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (as amended) in Scotland.

Collectively the regulations are known as the Oil Storage Regulations or OSR, and set design standards for above ground, external oil stores and require that secondary containment, eg a bund (a surrounding wall) or drip tray, is in place to prevent oil escaping into controlled waters.

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