Time and time again we see examples of why it makes perfect business sense to install a lining system. Especially in underground storage tanks. This is a long-term cost-saving move, and not just for the increased lifespan that the storage tank will have.

You can’t forget about leaking tanks

Some operators will look at the expense of putting in a lining system and shy away from committing wholesale to a lining program for the sites they own. This is usually down to one main factor. They think short-term about the initial outlay of cost, rather than the long-term savings this will generate. Plus, it’s easier to forget about a problem when it’s buried deep in the ground. This can be a very costly mistake. Especially if you have leaking tanks.

A Major Pollution Incident

As most have probably seen in the news, Tesco has accepted a £8million penalty. Pleading guilty to a petrol leak from one of their filling station storage tanks. This saw 23,500 litres of petrol seep into the local sewerage system and rivers at a site in Haslingdon, north of Manchester.

The leak was continued for more than 24 hours. Increasing the risk to the environment and the surrounding populace. Petrol odours drifted up fro the sewerage system into the homes of local residents. Those afflicted were forced to seek medical help due to headaches and nausea. This affected people up to 1 km away with reports saying the smell remained in homes for several days.

Petrol from the leaking tanks also made its way into several nearby waterways. Causing significant environmental damage, in fact, dead fish reports came from more than 10km downstream.

The Environment Agency and Lancashire County Council conducted a joint investigation. They found Tesco had failed to resolve a known problem with the tank. The facility also had an inadequate alarm system and poor emergency procedures. The investigation concluded all had been contributing factors to a major pollution incident.

The Charges and Fines

The retailer pleaded guilty to two charges. A breach of regulation 12(1)(b) and 38(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 and a breach of regulation 6(8) of DSEAR 2002, contrary to s 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Tesco paid £5million for the larger health and safety offence, £3million for the environmental offence, and costs of £22,000 and £35,434 respectively.

Lancashire County Council deputy leader Albert Atkinson said, “This was a major fuel leak in a relatively built-up area and close to a busy superstore. The potential consequences are only too obvious. The fact that the leak was allowed to continue for more than 24 hours undoubtedly contributed to a risk of harm to people living and working nearby, as well as emergency services and other professionals attending the incident.”

Lining Saves You Money

Now, I’m not saying it would have been the case here as we need further details of the leak. But, incidents with leaking tanks can be better managed and avoided altogether.

Having the proper monitored double skin lining system in place alerting to any breach in the tank. Allowing the operator to act far quicker than they would with no system in place.

With a quality lining system installed any breach would most likely not happen. As the lining protects the internal steel of the storage tank with a corrosion resistant barrier. Installing a double skin system in the tank would also give it a second layer of built-in protection.

There have been many more instances of fines for leaking tanks, both in the UK and abroad. Breaching anti-pollution laws is a serious matter, with tougher fines handed out to deter polluters.

Companies need the foresight and management to look at tank lining as the investment it is. A way of protecting their business and the future of their business. They’d only be paying thousands (for the lining system) instead of potentially millions of pounds in penalties. Damaging their bank balance, reputation and the environment.

Environmental regulations are strict. Any facility that houses storage tanks has a responsibility to guard against any product leakage and ground or waterway contamination.