Powers to make such regulations were first provided by the Control of Pollution Act 1974. The DoE has been promising to introduce them since the mid-1980s, and in this year's progress report on the 1990 White Paper on the environment promised to issue a consultation paper on oil stores by the end of this year. With a few days left in 1994, the promise, again, had not been kept.
The DoE's continuing failure is a source of frustration to the NRA because similar regulations for farm wastes and fuel oil stores, introduced in 1991, have proved effective in reducing agricultural pollution incidents (ENDS Report 225, pp 6-7 ).
In the meantime, the NRA is making its own effort to draw companies' attention to the precautions necessary to avoid water pollution. Its latest idea is a free video launched in September.1A series of recent court cases have underlined how the most elementary precautionary measures are neglected by some businesses.
Unbunded or inadequately bunded storage tanks are one of the most common causes of pollution:
The incident occurred during a delivery of diesel fuel when a tank overflowed due to a faulty gauge. The tank was unbunded and situated close to surface water drains. Oil entered the river Leven but was contained by prompt NRA action.
In March, an unbunded tank containing thousands of gallons of spent hydrochloric acid cracked at the company's site, allowing the waste to pollute the river Stour via surface water drains.
The pollution was caused when an employee filling a storage tank left the operation unattended during his lunch break. A bund around the tank would have contained the spill but its poor construction allowed the oil to seep through, flow down a bank and on to the adjacent river.
The incident occurred when a fuel delivery overtopped a tank. The bund surrounding the tank was faulty and allowed the oil to escape into surface water drains.
The failure to contain spillage regularly results in water pollution. Inadequately trained employees often flush spills into surface water drains - exacerbating the problem.
The court heard that a damaged container had leaked while in storage in an unbunded area close to a surface water drain. When the leak was discovered, staff flushed the liquid down the drain before notifying the NRA. The drain led to the Dibbinsdale brook, which was covered in foam for half a mile downstream of the discharge.
The failure to maintain oil interceptors is another common cause of pollution:
In February, site drainage containing oil and kerosene polluted a local stream when the company neglected to empty an oil interceptor on its drainage system. The company is appealing against the fine.