Regulations For Oil Tanks

Storage Regulation for bunded oil tanks

What is a bund?

It is a secondary containment system. It also referred to as a tank within a tank when the term is used to a heating oil tank. The inner shells acts as the primary oil storage container, while the outer acts as a protective layer and is capable of containing oil in the event of the inner layer being damaged or splitting. Like dry materials need proper Solids Handling Equipment, oil needs proper liquid handling equipment. This and the layers prevents the oil from leaking into its surrounding environment and ensures that it does not contaminate nearby water supplies or landscapes. 

Until recent years, most heating oil tanks were single skin models, and many were made of steel, instead of the more commonly seen plastic versions. The problem with both single skin plastic and steel models is that they are much more likely to split or experience weather damage and hence pose an environmental risk.

The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) Regulations came into effect in the UK in March 2011. The regulations state that a secondary containment system (a bund) must be incorporated at all relevant oil tank installations, where storage requirements exceed 200 litres. All new tank installations are required by law to comply with the regulations by 20th September 2011.

Learn more about Solids Handling Equipment

Environmental protection

These regulations represent cases where one is obliged to install and use a bunded oil tanks to offer extra protection to the environment in situations where: 

Oil spills run into a drain or manhole cover

Within 50 metres of a freshwater source, like well, borehole or spring

Within 10 metres of lakes or streams

Oil spills run over the hard ground until it reaches coastlines, freshwater sources or fresh inland water

If the tank can contain over 2,500 litres in Scotland or more than 3,500 litres of oil in England.

Design criteria for bunds

Bunds can either be:

Constructed from masonry or concrete

Built as part of a tank system - integrally bunded tanks

For bunds of either type, you must make sure:

The wall or base of the bund does not have an opening, valve or pipe that enables the bund to be drained.

The bund is impermeable to water and oil.

To stop oil getting out of the bund, the fill pipe that passes through the bund base or wall should be sealed.


When oil spills or leaks occur, they are incredibly dangerous to the environment, posing direct risks to people in the neighbouring region, vegetation and wildlife as well. Regular inspection and maintenance are therefore necessary to ensure that oil tanks are in top condition and in compliance with regulations at all times.