Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Refueling on construction sites

Refuelling with diesel or petrol on a construction site

Where fuels or oil cause an environmental incident, the responsibility for that incident rests with the person or business who has control of them, irrespective of who owns them.

What you must do

Storage areas

If you store any kind of oil on your premises you may need to comply with Regulations for Oil Storage.

Oil storage

GPP 2 Above ground oil storage tanks (Adobe PDF - 276KB)

Your environmental regulator can serve on you an 'anti pollution works notice' if your site gives rise to, or is at risk of giving rise to, pollution of surface waters or groundwater. This notice will require you to undertake remedial action.

Good practice

Storage areas

Establish the plant storage and refuelling areas in a location where they will not need to be moved during the course of the contract.

Until you set up a storage compound, minimise the quantities of oil and fuel you have on site.

Store all chemicals within a bund or drip tray.

You must site your oil storage where there is minimal risk of collision from vehicles or plant.

Bunds at construction sites

Fuel, oil and chemical storage facilities should be located on impermeable surfaces with controlled drainage, away from storm water sewers, grids, channels and watercourses.

All funnels, buckets, containers, brushes and other associated equipment should also be kept in a bunded area when not in use.

Clearly label tanks with their contents and storage capacity; this will reduce the risk of overfill and spillage.

If you are storing oils such as mould release oils or hydraulic oils in barrels from which you will need to transfer small quantities to other containers before use, have a tap fitted to the barrel. Store the barrel on its side, on a stand, within a bunded area.

Place a bucket or container under taps to safeguard against drips and leaks. Any leakage can then be reused. You will also prevent fuels and oils mixing with any water in the base of the bunded area.

Consider using biodegradable hydraulic oils when working in or near water.

Where there is a risk that plant or vehicles could collide with or damage a fuel storage area, consider installing heavy-duty traffic barriers between the fuel storage tank and areas where plant and vehicles operate.

Where possible, protect hydraulic hoses from damage. Hoses and connections should be regularly checked for leaks and faults.

Out and about

Ensure that any containers you carry with you are correctly labelled, are fit for purpose and are securely stored to prevent them being damaged or spilt.

Containers should be placed on drip trays to collect small spillages.

Mobile bowsers and containers

In Scotland:

A mobile bowser used for storing oil:

  • must have a lock on any permanent tap or valve fitted, and this must be locked when not in use
  • must have an automatically closing valve or pump at the delivery end of any fixed flexible pipe.
  • must have a lock on the pump or valve, and must be locked when not in use
  • must have a lockable valve at the container end of the pipe which is locked when not in use
  • must have a valve or tap fitted to any sight gauge that is permanently fitted to the container, and this must be locked when not in use.

Use only bunded mobile bowsers for refuelling plant and equipment and make sure that the bund is regularly emptied of any fuel that has collected.

Supply funnels to help prevent spills during refuelling.

Make sure that each bowser has a spill response kit on board.

Make sure that any container that you use for transporting fuel is fit for purpose, has a sealed lid, does not leak and is properly labelled.

Storing small amounts of fuel or oil

If you are storing small amounts of oil or diesel within your working area, ensure that they are:

  • stored upright
  • with their lids securely on
  • located away from watercourses or surface water drains
  • correctly labelled
  • stored in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

By using containers with watertight lids, you can reduce the risk of accidental spillage of mould release oil onto the ground and reduce the risk of rainwater getting into the product.

Store any containers away from areas in which vehicles regularly move. In Scotland, small containers with a capacity of less than 200 litres must be strong and have structural integrity that will ensure that they will not burst or leak in ordinary use.

Security and vandalism

Fuel storage tanks should be locked when not in use to prevent unauthorised access and to reduce the risk of vandalism. As the owners or controllers of that fuel, you will be liable for any pollution that it causes even if vandals release the fuel.

Further information

Health and Safety Executive

Health and Safety Executive (Northern Ireland)

GPP 21 Pollution incident response planning (Adobe PDF – 318KB)

Oil Care Campaign: Useful resources to help and guide you when handling, storing and disposing of oils

Northern Ireland Environment Agency: Waste oils in Northern Ireland


SEE ALSO: Oil storage

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