Tag Archives: bund

Marinas and leisure boat operators under scrutiny.

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.


Mineral Oil Spill blamed for bird contamination

Hundreds of seabirds washed up in an oil spill on the south coast from Sussex to Cornwall on Thursday 31st January were contaminated with a waxy substance that is now believed to be a mixture of refined mineral oils, most probably jettisoned from a ship passing through the Western approaches to the English Channel.
A major rescue operation has been launched by the RSPCA and other local charities to capture and clean the affected birds. Inevitably it is highly likely that many more birds have perished out to sea than have been rescued and even then it has proved such a major task to remove the contamination that not all the birds rescued will survive.


Preventing environmental pollution both on land and sea is now given top priority and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have sent a counter pollution surveillance aircraft to investigate the sea areas between Dover and the Isles of Scilly looking for the source. Shipping schedules and cargo records are also being scoured to try and pinpoint the culprit.
The fact that the captain of the vessel did not report the spill suggests it was not accidental and more likely to do with saving money. Let’s hope the authorities can track the ship down and prosecute the offender at least as a deterrent to others. Sadly as far as the Guillemots are concerned the damage is already done and worse still right at the start of the breeding season.
The incident, and the expensive resources put behind locating the source should act as a reminder to all those involved in the transport, storage and use of oils, fuels and other hazardous materials. It is a legal obligation to ensure appropriate spill control and containment measures such as absorbent products, bunds and spill kits are in place should a spill occur.

The Environment Agency is ever more vigilant and can force the perpetrator to foot the bill for environmental pollution caused by careless or irresponsible actions.

Conducting a spill risk assessment to help formulate a coherent spill control management system is the only sensible approach and will protect the viability of the business as well as the environment.

Spill control can protect your business

Accidental spills of oils, chemicals and other toxic pollutants have the potential to severely damage your business operation. If you are found to be negligent not only will the Environment Agency bill you for the clean-up costs you can also be landed with a heavy fine and the adverse publicity may damage your reputation.

So here is a 10 point plan to minimise the risk to your business the environment and your workforce.

Drain Cover

1. First make sure any potentially harmful substances are correctly labelled with an appropriate COSHH hazardous substance warning sign.

2. Put in place stocks of spill control materials and equipment appropriate to the spill hazards identified

3. Make sure all staff know the location of any spill control materials and equipment and how to use them.

4. Provide appropriate PPE equipment such as protective suits, fume masks, gloves and footwear so designated staff can tackle spills safely.

5. Protect environmentally sensitive areas by deploying drain mats and locating hazardous storage well away from drains and watercourses.

6. Preferably construct a bund around storage tanks and to divert spillages away from watercourses. A pile of earth or sand can be used to form a temporary bund in the event of a spill.

7. If a spill does reach a watercourse, deploy absorbent socks or booms to prevent spread.

8. If possible clean up the spill using appropriate absorbent granules, absorbent pillows and absorbent socks.

9. The materials used in the clean-up are also a hazard so dispose of correctly by removal to an authorised waste disposal facility.

10. If a major spill occurs, particularly of toxic or flammable liquids stop all work, inform the emergency services and/or the Environment Agency and move staff to a safe area until the spill is contained

Following these guidelines will ensure that if an accident occurs you can demonstrate your business has taken a responsible approach to spill management and control.

That oil spill is money slipping through your fingers

If any of your machinery has an oil leak, and you’re doing nothing about it, you’re watching money slip through your fingers. If you’re comfortable with that situation, you ought to be in a minority of one. Take the case of the specialist engineering company that did nothing about its oil-spilling machines for years. There was always a sticky mess of spilled oil and sawdust on the floor, and every three weeks or so someone slipped and fell as a result. (Proper absorbent granules would have been a better option than sawdust, but we’ll let that one pass). That was far too many accidents, and something had to be done.
Oil SpillThe company’s action was motivated by the need for better safety, but it brought other benefits too.

Its solution was to develop an oil leak plan. The start point was to stop things getting worse, so each leaking machine was fitted with proper bunds. Then a list of leaks to be fixed was drawn up and acted upon, and regular maintenance checks identified new leaks for fixing. The results were remarkable. Site safety improved with fewer slips and falls. Housekeeping improved. Oil caught by the bunds was vacuumed out into oil safe drums for re-use. Oil use was reduced. Less oil was needed in the stores, so costs were cut. And absorbent granules were brought in as an alternative to sawdust (hurrah!)

Moving on from that, there is now a weekly housekeeping audit in which supervisors are challenged if they have machines with oil spills, and the company has been able to earn ISO14001 accreditation for its environmental performance. There’s even an action and improvement scheme whereby employees can pick a problem and work on fixing it. If there are cost savings to the company then the team gets 10 percent of what’s saved. That of course means the company gets 90 per cent – and who couldn’t use a saving like that in these tough economic times?

How much will an oil spill cost your business?

What we’re about to do now is by nature of a scientific experiment;  a word association test.

There are no catches. I’m going to give you a simple phrase, and I’d like you to see what image it instantly calls to mind. Ready? Here we go: ‘oil spill’.

What do you see in your mind’s eye? I have no way of knowing, and I’m neither a betting man nor Derren Brown. However, I’d be very surprised if the list of mental images brought to mind didn’t involve BP in the Gulf of Mexico, the Amoco Cadiz, the Exxon Valdez, or, perhaps if you’re a little older, the Torrey Canyon, or maybe an oiled seabird or two.

English WaterwaysSee the common factor? (and there’s a clue I didn’t see until I wrote it down). They’re all at sea, and they’re all verging on the scarily large. But it’s a sad fact that oil spills don’t all happen at sea. In fact they’re more likely to happen inland, and there are far more of them than you might imagine, even in the UK.

The Environment Agency acknowledges that there are far fewer than there were a decade ago, but they’re nevertheless the second most frequent type of pollutant of inland waters reported in England and Wales. The introduction of England’s Oil Storage Regulations cut the number, but there are still getting on for 3,000 pollution incidents every year – in the order of eight a day. Although some of these affect land, the vast majority affect the country’s lakes and rivers – and they cost a typical business up to £30,000 in fines, clean-up charges and production losses to put right.

Of course, oil is everywhere, and it’s in large quantities. We use it in engines, hydraulic systems and fryers. It needs an extensive distribution and storage system, so there’s great potential for spills. The principal causes of oil pollution are loss from storage facilities, spills during delivery or dispensing and deliberate, illegal, disposal of waste oil to drains.

The Environment Agency has specific responsibility for a number of regulations related to storing and disposing of oil in a range of industrial settings, and the storage of agricultural fuel oils, and is responsible for enforcing the OSR England. Failure to comply is a criminal offence, and could land you with a fine of up to £5,000. Of course the Agency would prefer to work with you, and close the stable door before the horse bolts. It will provide advice and guidance, and help you to comply voluntarily, but has the power to make you toe the line.

So, we started with a word association test. Now let me paint another picture in your mind. In July this year a food processing company in Evesham had to pay £31,500 in fines and costs (quite apart from lost production and raw materials) when 5,000 litres of rapeseed oil spilled from a tank at its factory. The bund around the tank hadn’t contained the leak, and 800 litres of oil ran into the River Avon through surface water drains. In spite of the Environment Agency putting out a pollution control absorbent boom, two miles of the river were affected. Why was there a leak in the first place? A jubilee clip had come undone. Why did it turn into such a nightmare? The company didn’t understand its site drainage, and had no emergency action plan in place, so wasn’t able to deploy drain covers…

To help businesses avoid and deal with pollution incidents we have collected a range of advice within our advice centre.