The early morning mists and heavy dews herald the onset of Autumn and inevitably thoughts turn to the approaching winter. Farmers have completed the harvest for another year and our lawns move into hibernation mode as the colder nights inhibit grass growth.
Now is therefore the time to mothball agricultural machinery for another year. This is also the time of year to service the car, carry out essential winter maintenance on grass mowers, outdoor equipment and generators in preparation for the winter months.
Changing motor oil and oiling and greasing bearings and linkages will also ensure that engines and motors remain in good working order until next season. If equipment is stored outside or in outbuildings it is also a good idea to drain water from cooling systems or at least refill with antifreeze. With so much machinery involved farmers, hauliers and industrial users more often undertake this work themselves and in these austere times homeowners are more inclined to do basic car servicing themselves.
All these activities involve handling oils and chemicals of one kind or another and have the potential for damaging spills and with the Environment Agency clamping down on illegal dumping of used oil care should be taken at every step to avoid polluting land and watercourses.
Waste oil should be stored in an oil safe drum approved for the transport of oil and taken to a registered disposal depot. Ensure you have sufficient absorbent pads or absorbent granules to deal with small accidental spills. If your maintenance activities generate large quantities of waste, seal any adjacent surface water drains with appropriate drain covers and have spill containment provision to hand such as booms, socks and absorbent pillows specific to the risk. A huge choice of spill control products are available to deal with oils, chemicals and contaminated water irrespective of volume so act responsibly and safeguard the environment.
The Environment Agency and regional water companies have a statutory responsibility to enforce controls on any business activity that produces waste water generically called “trade effluent” and failure to comply with regulations may result in significant fines to your business. Added to which you have the European Water Framework Directive that was signed into law by all European Union countries in the year 2000. The Directive set an initial time frame for implementation of water improvement frameworks, which had to be operational by the end of 2012, with the detailed objectives being achieved by the end of 2015.
Marinas, commercial and leisure boat operators have a particularly hard time when it comes to compliance given the pollution potential they generate in the normal course of business. Potential sources of pollutants commonly found in many marinas include oil, fuel, boat sewage, toxic metals, solvents, antifreeze, and detergents. As figures show water pollution is on an upward curve the Environment Agency is stepping up its inspections to ensure all marina and boatyard businesses address this problem.
The best way to minimise accidental pollution is to put in place an Environmental Management Plan based on a thorough risk assessment of your business operations. Effective environmental protection is easier if you have a structured documented management plan that the workforce can refer to.
Achieving practical outcomes is based on four stages.
Identify the potential risks and environmental impact
Implement safeguards and controls including staff training and customer awareness.
Check and monitor safeguards regularly to ensure compliance with your management plan
Review your plan and adapt to changing working practices or new risks.
Ensuring environmental safety is often common sense. Siting oil and fuel tanks as far away from water courses as possible is an obvious example but you should also ensure tanks have bunds with sufficient capacity to contain any spillage. Choose spill control products appropriate to the risk and site them in close proximity to the risk. Oil only spill absorbents for example are not effective on water based effluents and no control measures will be effective if they are not readily accessible. Ensure customers, particularly boat owners on your moorings are aware of their responsibilities and know the type and location of spill control provisions available on site. You can also encourage customers to carry their own spill control kits which you can supply.
We all have a responsibility to protect the environment and after all the industry rely on having safe clean waterways to attract more boating enthusiasts.