Screening an oil tank | OFTEC

OFTEC comments on Jay Blades Home Fix BBC TV programme

Wednesday, May 06, 2020 By OFTEC

Episode 9 of series 1 of Jay Blades Home Fix (broadcast 4.6.2020) featured a section about someone building a fence around an oil tank.

Firstly, and as an aside, we would like to highlight that regional Building Regulations set out requirements for the installation of oil tanks in order to minimise both pollution risk from fuel spills, and the potential risk of a fire spreading to an oil tank that may originate from nearby (adjacent building or building opening e.g. window/door). The oil tank featured during the programme, would appear to meet little, if any of these requirements.

Although not covered by regional Building Regulations, British Standards provide further guidelines relating to screening such as fences. These apply to the materials used and separation distances etc. Read more details here:

We are extremely concerned that the guidelines were not complied with and, in fact, were not even mentioned. There is a clear risk that the programme will encourage people to fit non-compliant screens and there are obvious dangers arising from this. For example, in this particular case the minimum distance for an oil tank to a solid structure has not been met and has compromised a requirement to provide adequate access to inspect the tank for general condition. Thus, increasing risk of a pollution incident occurring if there was a leak that went undetected. Furthermore, the potential risk of a fire spreading to the tank has been compromised by the use of combustible materials (timber) in such close proximity to the tank.

We are also concerned about the cavalier way the footings for the posts were dug. Many oil pipes run underground and the risk of accidentally damaging one while digging holes close to the tank should have been obvious. A pollution incident arising from a leak could cause damage costing tens of thousands of pounds to clean up, and it would be likely to invalidate the owner's insurance, leaving them liable for the whole cost.

Overall, we consider the feature misguided at best and, at worst, potentially reckless. We have written to the BBC, requesting that the feature be removed as a matter of urgency, or reshot to make clear the Building Regulation requirements.

We also issued a press release to the consumer media strongly advising that consumers consult an OFTEC registered heating technician, before embarking on any DIY attempts to conceal their oil tank. 

The OFTEC technician search is available here - and registered businesses can search for themselves and then copy a link to their listing to use on their own website or social media pages, so that consumers can easily verify their registration status on our website.

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