Separating good practice from bad

Separators are essential for avoiding pollution on premises where oil, or other hazardous spills are a risk, including: distribution depots, forecourts, fuel storage sites and major carparks.

Designed to trap harmful substances before they enter the surrounding area, separators can become blocked and their filters saturated, stopping the flow of water off-site or causing contamination to the local environment. Sites that do not keep separators in good working order risk flooding and downtime, while facing hefty fines for non-compliance and prosecution if the surrounding area is polluted.

Vital part or maintenance

The current applicable standards and good practice are BS EN 858-2:2003 and GPP3 use and design of oil separators. Regular separator maintenance and cleaning is essential to keep all pollution prevention equipment working at optimum efficiency and also provides the information needed for service log scrutiny during environmental inspections.

Separators should:

  • Be fitted with an automatic warning device / high-level alarm
  • Be serviced and maintained as a minimum on a six-monthly basis
  • Be subject to a maximum interval of a five-yearly integrity test
  • Have full service and maintenance records available for inspection

Good practice guidance: CIRIA C736

CIRIA C736 is the current good practice guidance documentation for the design, inspection, and maintenance of containment measures to prevent pollution.

It has been designed to assist operators meet the statutory obligation under the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 2015 (COMAH) and the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations and associated regulations. It applies to the containment of a wide range of inventories and to all sizes of sites – from small commercial premises with a single storage tank through to large chemical or petrochemical sites, as well as warehouses storing hazardous substances. A pollution incident, due to a poorly maintained asset or inadequate containment is a strict liability offence.

Increase in fines

There has been a marked increase in fines over the last decade, especially for large companies. Businesses can be fined up to 100% of their pre-tax profits and, in certain circumstances, senior officers of offending businesses have been held personally liable. Beyond the obvious financial fallout, organisations must also deal with ecological, legal, and reputational damage. The onus is on operators to demonstrate compliance with regulations to reduce the risk of a pollution incident and a robust asset maintenance programme is essential.

Experienced partner

Over the past few years, the number of pollution incidents either caused by failed separators or exacerbated by a loss of containment has increased. Regulators are increasingly clamping down on poorly maintained and non-compliant operations. In order to help its clients, Adler and Allan utilise their full knowledge and experience in implementing various maintenance packages based on site specifics and client requirements.

A separator alarm system monitors oil, silt, and liquid levels within underground separators, ensuring they are operating correctly and preventing pollutants. Adler and Allan can specify, supply, install, and service oil separator alarm systems and provide the necessary services.

Separator inspection and maintenance

As an experienced and nationwide environmental partner, Adler and Allan can provide a full ‘peace of mind’ service package, appropriate to the separator type and setting. The six-monthly inspection should be a non-intrusive, ‘in-service’ inspection to check levels and functionality of key components. The five-yearly integrity inspection is a critical service, as several faults can develop within the body of the tank, including fractures, displacements, and groundwater ingress. The five-yearly inspection is an ‘out-of-service’ survey however, due to the adoption of cutting-edge technology and methodologies, Adler and Allan will usually complete the service within a day. Operators are provided with complete records of inspection and testing to satisfy regulatory and standard auditing requirements.

A&A Separating Good Practice

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A&A Separating Good Practice
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