Pollution Prevention Guidelines: Dealing with spills: PPG 22

Pollution Prevention Guidelines: Dealing with spills: PPG 22
Pollution Prevention Guidelines:
April 2011
Incident Response
Dealing with spills: PPG 22
These guidelines are produced by the Environment Agency for England and Wales, the
Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection
Agency, referred to here as ‘we’ or ‘us’.
Pollution Prevention Guidelines (PPGs) are based on relevant legislation and reflect
current good practice. Following the guidelines will help you manage your
environmental responsibilities to prevent pollution and comply with the law.
If you cause pollution or allow it to occur, you may be committing a criminal offence.
You can find our contact details at the end of these guidelines.
This document is produced in accordance with the Code of Practice on Guidance on
Regulation, reference 1.
1. Introduction
These guidelines apply if you’re responsible for storing and transporting materials that could cause
pollution if they leak or are spilt. They’re our good practice guidelines to help you identify measures to
prevent, limit or reduce damage to the environment and risk to public health from a spill. They are for:
site operators of industrial and commercial premises;
vehicle operators;
other organisations, authorities and businesses who store or handle polluting materials;
sewage treatment providers.
They will also help those who respond to spills, and those responsible for transporting or storing waste
from spills, to protect the environment, for example:
the Fire and Rescue Services; (FRS)
spill clean-up contractors;
other bodies who may be involved in spill response, for example local authorities and public
health bodies.
The guidelines give information and advice about:
why spills must be contained quickly;
your site's Pollution Incident Response Plan;
the pollution control hierarchy;
pollution control methods and equipment you could use to contain spills;
site specific pollution control options;
spills on a road or highway;
clean-up after you’ve contained a spill, including pollutant specific information.
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They don’t cover:
Safe and legal materials storage to help prevent spills; this is covered in references 2, 3, 4
and 5.
How you can prevent damage from the effects of contaminated water caused by fire fighting;
this is covered in other guidelines, references 6, 7 and 8.
How spills affect air quality, but following these guidelines may help.
Although, the guidelines don’t give advice on public health aspects of a spill, health and safety is an
important consideration. You should assess the safety risks of each incident before you take any
action to contain or control a spill.
We suggest you read this PPG and Incident Response Planning: PPG 21, reference 9, to help find the
best way to plan what to do if you have a spill. You may need a combination of measures from
different sections of this PPG.
2. Dealing with spills key points
You need to consider the following points to develop your spill response actions. Each point has
further detail in the listed sections.
Carry out a pollution risk
assessment that includes
information about:
• what you store or transport;
• what could happen if it’s spilt;
• drainage systems, water courses and
protected environments on and around your
• health and safety for pollution management.
See section 5
Completed Prepare, plan and practice your Pollution Incident Response Plan and make
sure you have all the equipment you may need.
See section 6
Completed Use the pollution control
hierarchy to help you plan
your spill response and
select suitable pollution
prevention equipment.
1. Contain at source
2. Contain close to source
3. Contain on the surface
4. Contain in the drainage system
5. Contain on the watercourse.
See sections
7 and 8
Completed Consider site specific
pollution control options
tailored to your needs.
See section 9
Completed If you transport materials
by road consider what
you can do if you have a
spill or collision.
• correct signage;
• vehicle spill kits;
• fuel tank and emission reduction solution
• tanker spills.
containment lagoons and ponds;
sacrificial areas;
pits and trenches
spill containment tanks.
See section
Completed continued
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You're responsible for cleaning
up any spilt material and the
safe legal disposal of any waste
from a spill. We recommend
you use a UK Spill accredited
contractor to help you clean up.
• check you legal obligations for waste
• sewer jetting requirements;
• highways clean up;
• material specific clean up;
• site remediation.
Review how the spill happened, how you could stop it happening again and if
you need to update your Pollution Incident Response Plan.
See section
Completed See section
Completed 3. Background
3.1 Impacts of a spill
Many different materials can cause environmental harm if they’re spilt and enter the environment. It’s
better to stop a spill happening than to have to clean up afterwards. You should consider procedures
and security to protect your business and reduce the risk of a spill.
Polluting materials include things we can clearly identify as harmful, such as chemicals, pesticides,
oils, sewage and animal slurries. But many things we don’t see as harmful can still have a devastating
effect on the environment, for example beverages, food products, detergents, dairy products, paint and
ink. Impacts can include:
the closure of public water supplies and other abstractions, both surface water and
damage to wetland habitats, fisheries and river ecosystem;
disruption of recreational and other river uses;
groundwater contamination:
land contamination;
risk to and impacts on human health from air pollution.
These impacts can be immediate and long lasting, but sometimes the effect can take longer to be
recognised, especially if groundwater has been polluted.
If you’re the polluter, you’re likely to be responsible for the clean-up costs, even where the pollution
was caused by vandalism. These can be expensive, particularly if groundwater has been
contaminated. There may also be additional costs associated with our and others’ incident response.
In England and Wales we can recharge you for costs for our time and any equipment we’ve used. We
may apply an anti pollution works notice or a civil sanction to you or your business to enforce clean-up
and make reoccurrence prevention a legal requirement. If you have an environmental permit we will
enforce or vary it to prevent or minimise the effects of a similar incident reoccurring. Fines or costs
may also be applied through the criminal and/or civil courts. Your company’s business reputation can
suffer and your insurance costs may rise.
In Northern Ireland we can charge you for costs for our time and any equipment we’ve used. We may
apply a civil sanction to you or your business to enforce clean-up and make reoccurrence prevention a
legal requirement. If you have an environmental consent we will enforce or vary it to prevent a similar
incident reoccurring. Fines or costs may also be applied through the criminal and/or civil courts. Your
company’s business reputation can suffer and your insurance costs may rise.
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In Scotland we may serve an enforcement notice on you or your business to ensure that you mitigate
or remediate the effects of the spill or that you take steps to prevent it happening again. If you have a
permit or licence, we may enforce or vary it to prevent a similar incident reoccurring. You may be
prosecuted in a criminal court and, if convicted, may be subject to a fine and/or imprisonment. Costs
may also be applied through the civil courts. You company’s business reputation may suffer and your
insurance premiums may rise.
The impact of a spill is affected by the:
polluting or toxic nature of the material that’s spilt;
quantity and concentration of the material released;
any mixing of materials released;
environmental sensitivity of the local area around the spill;
the time of year and weather conditions;
availability of pollution control equipment and spill containment facilities;
the speed and effectiveness of your incident response.
Even small spills can have a significant impact; inappropriate or delayed action can:
make the polluting impact worse;
threaten public health;
increase your clean-up costs;
increase the risk of legal action against you.
Contingency planning is the key to stopping a spill becoming a serious pollution incident.
3.2 How a spill can escape from your site
Pollutants can escape into the environment from your site or, where a spill happens off site, via
different routes:
Through the surface water drainage system.
Direct run-off into a watercourse.
Through the soil or via soakaways, drains or damaged surfaces to groundwater.
Through the foul sewer system, where pollutants may discharge through storm overflows to
surface waters, could pass through the sewage treatment works or reduce the performance
of the works so it can’t treat sewage properly.
If you have a spill that reaches a watercourse, lake, loch, lough or pond you should call our Hotline on
0800 80 70 60.
Safe and legal material storage with appropriate environment management procedures is the best way
to prevent a spill. You should consider both pollution preventative measures, such as installing spill
control facilities, and a site specific pollution incident response plan that takes account of your activities
and the materials you store and deal with, see Sections 6 and 8. The plan should include what you’ll
do if there’s a spill from materials in transit, for example due to road traffic collisions, if you frequently
travel the same route.
Your incident response plan should include the priority actions you should take. Our guidance on
‘Incident response planning: PPG21’, reference 9, gives you advice on writing your plan.
If you deliver materials to other people’s sites they may have their own pollution incident response
plans. You should become familiar with these in case of a spill during loading or unloading.
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4. Legal background
Our responsibility as environmental regulators is to protect and improve the environment. We
investigate causes of pollution and aim to find the person responsible. If you do have a spill, on site or
during material transit, you’re responsible for its clean up and, if necessary, restoration of the
environment. If you don’t take responsibility, we may arrange for the work that’s needed to be done
and then recharge you as the polluter.
These guidelines may be used to supplement guidance for sites controlled under the Control of Major
Accident Hazard Regulations (COMAH) (reference 10), the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010
in England and Wales, or Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations in Scotland (reference 11). In
Northern Ireland please contact the Northern Ireland Environment Agency for guidance on the
appropriate legislation that covers your site or activities and how this PPG may apply. As a condition
of your environmental permit or trade effluent discharge consent, you may have a statutory obligation
to have a plan and take appropriate measures to help you prevent accidents/incidents and reduce their
effects. Following these guidelines will help you include appropriate measures for your accident
prevention plan.
If your site is covered by these regulations and you don’t follow these guidelines, you should be able to
justify the reason and show that the measures you’ve taken are equivalent or better.
Regulations we are responsible for include:
The Environmental Damage or Liability Regulations, depending on where you are in the UK (see
reference 12), require people who operate an ‘economic’ activity to prevent or limit the environmental
damage they cause. This includes:
private businesses;
manufacturing businesses;
construction and demolition businesses;
waste management businesses;
forestry operations;
public sector – schools, hospitals and government departments or agencies;
charitable and voluntary organisations.
These regulations require polluters to prevent serious environmental damage from their activities or to
take action to remedy it. Environmental damage is considered to be:
serious damage to surface water or groundwater;
contamination of land where there is a significant risk to human health;
serious damage to EU protected natural habitats and species or damage to Sites of Special
Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in England and Wales or Areas of Special Scientific Interest
(ASSIs) in Northern Ireland.
They follow the 'polluter pays' principle; if there’s a risk of damage from your business activities, you
must do your best to prevent the damage occurring.
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In England and Wales, the Environmental Permitting Regulations, reference 11, define when you must
have a permit or register an exemption before you make any discharge to the water environment,
surface water or groundwater. If you make a discharge without a permit, or that doesn’t meet the
conditions of your permit, you’re committing an offence. We don’t automatically grant a permit and in
environmentally-sensitive areas may not grant a permit to protect the environment.
In Northern Ireland, the Water (NI) Order 1999 means you need a consent for discharge from NIEA
before you make any discharges into the water environment. If you make a discharge without a
consent, or that doesn't meet the conditions of your consent, you’re committing an offence.
In Scotland, discharges to the water environment are authorised through the Water Environment
(Controlled Activities) Regulations (CAR). If you have a Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Permit
it will contain conditions covering any discharges to the water environment that will meet the
requirements of CAR. If you make a discharge without authorisation, or that doesn’t meet the
conditions of your authorisation, you’re committing an offence.
5. Your pollution risk assessment
It’s always better to prevent spills happening in the first place. Safe secure storage, careful deliveries
and staff training, on site and for drivers, are essential for pollution control. You are responsible for the
environmental safety from your site and activities.
Spills often happen when you’re least expecting them.
Causes include:
overfilling or poor handling of storage containers, for example drums, intermediate bulk
containers (IBCs) and tanks;
damaged or leaking storage containers;
equipment and containment failure;
failure of underground tanks or pipework;
a collision or accident during transport or delivery;
pipework failure;
weather related problems, including flooding or high wind damage or extremes of
fires or explosions;
deliberate acts.
Before you can decide on the most appropriate facilities and equipment for your site or vehicle, you
should carry out a pollution risk assessment. If you have more than one site, assess the risk for each
site and for vehicle routes individually.
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Your risk assessment needs to consider:
physical, chemical and biological properties of any material that maybe spilt;
how materials are stored or transported and the condition of storage containers;
possible effects of accidents, flooding, vandalism and failure of containment;
location, including how close you are to local water courses, sensitive groundwater locations,
public water abstraction points and environmentally sensitive areas, for example Sites of
Special Scientific Interest;
surface water drains and foul sewers that flow off your site;
any Sustainable Drainage Systems you have on your site;
areas of unsurfaced ground;
operations and layout of your site, or factors to look out for in road traffic collisions;
risks posed to people and the environment and the extent of the possible damage;
local landscape and different weather conditions and the flood risk that could be reasonably
expected at and around your site.
A risk assessment can be carried out in stages:
identify the materials you store or handle on site and activities that may be a hazard;
identify and assess potential links between each hazard source, pathways and receptors;
assess the likelihood and magnitude of any potential harmful effects.
Guidance to help you complete a risk assessment is available in ‘Controlled burn’ PPG 28, reference 7,
or you could hire a consultant to help you complete the risk assessment.
Once you’ve completed the risk assessment, prioritise the risks to focus on putting the highest risks
first. Then identify the measures you need to reduce the likelihood and impact of a spill. Include these
in a pollution incident response plan; more information is in section 6 and reference 9. We recommend
you show your draft plan to us and other people who may be involved in incident response as we may
suggest how to improve it.
You and your staff should always assess the risk of each individual spill, before you take action, to
make sure you and other people stay safe. If you do have a spill, your planned response may need to
be modified during an incident. For example:
during heavy rainfall;
if more than one material has been spilt;
if the incident is on a road or highway near members of the public.
If you change the materials you use or the activities you do on site, you should update your pollution
risk assessment and check your priorities for high risks.
6. Your sites Pollution Incident Response Planning
6.1 Prepare
A vital part of dealing with a spill is being able to quickly identify the watercourse, groundwater and
drainage systems that may be affected by a spill. This should be part of your pollution risk
assessment. This will help you plan what you’ll do if you have a spill and identify the pollution control
equipment and possible control devices you’ll need and where they should be located.
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Drainage systems can be very complex; without preparation, valuable time can be wasted in locating
outfalls and pollution control devices.
You should have a drainage plan drawn up that identifies all the surface drains, foul sewers and
soakaways on your site, their direction of flow and any watercourses, lakes, lochs, loughs, ponds,
groundwater or sewage treatment works they discharge to. Your landlord may be able to provide one.
We recommend you colour code the surface drains as blue and the foul sewers as red, both on the
plan and by painting drain covers on your site. Any combined drainage systems can be identified with
a red letter ‘C’. This colour system is well known by emergency responders and can save valuable
time if you have a spill. The plan should also show the location of any pollution control devices and
stores of pollution control equipment. This can form part of your incident response plan.
Off-site drainage plans may be available from the highway or road authorities, local authority or your
local water company.
6.2 Plan
You should prepare an Incident Response Plan for your site. If you have more than one site you’ll
need a separate plan for each. Information to help you prepare your plan is available in ‘Incident
response planning – PPG 21’ reference 9. This PPG also includes a template to help you put your
plan together.
Consider showing the draft plan to us, your local FRS, your local authority and the local sewerage
provider. We can help with ideas to improve it. We may be able to give you advice about when you
should notify us about a spill, for example the size of spill for different materials, or when you should
call the FRS.
Your plan should include:
contact details for someone from your business if there’s an incident ‘out of hours’;
how you will clean up after a spill;
how you will legally and safely remove residues from the spill;
contact details for clean-up contractors.
Plans should be as simple as possible and not contain unnecessary detail. You should make sure
your pollution incident response plan accounts for the safety of staff and responders.
We recommend you give the information from your plan to emergency responders so they can include
it in their own response plan for your site, if they have one, for example FRS Operational Incident
Response Plans, often called 7(2)(d) or 9(2)(d) plans, reference 13.
6.3 Practice
You should train your staff so they know:
what they should and shouldn’t do if there’s a spill;
where personal protective equipment and pollution control equipment is;
where a copy of the Incident Response Plan is.
They should also understand that their health and safety is more important than stopping a spill.
If you have bulk storage of materials, high hazard material storage (of any volume), frequent deliveries
or regular vehicle movements that could damage storage containers, we recommend you organise
practices, without an actual spill, to check your employees know what to do. Your local FRS may be
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interested in attending the site during a practice to help with their training and make the practice more
realistic for you.
If you have a spill that has reached a watercourse, lake, loch, lough or pond, call our Hotline on
0800 80 70 60.
6.4 Pollution control equipment
Make sure your site has stocks of pollution control equipment, suitable for your stored materials,
readily available and where possible stored near possible spill sites. These could be stored as spill
Pollution equipment may also be available from other sources listed below. But you shouldn’t rely on
these as your sole emergency equipment source as response times will vary and spilt material could
cause serious pollution while you’re waiting for it to arrive.
FRS often carry pollution control equipment. Some of this equipment is designed to be carried on
front-line fire engines. Other more specialist equipment can be brought rapidly to the scene of an
incident if required on a dedicated vehicle or environmental protection unit (EPU).
Some large chemical companies may hold stocks of suitable equipment and materials which could be
brought to the scene for use by the responding company.
Many member companies of UK Spill offer an emergency response service for oil and other types of
spills. We recommend you contact a UK Spill accredited contractor to help with your incident response
and clean-up. Further details are available from individual companies or through UK Spill, see useful
web sites.
You are responsible for dealing with a pollution incident on your site. Our response times, especially
out of hours, may be a few hours. We can offer advice on containment and dealing with a spill. In
England and Wales, when we are able to attend, our role is primarily as a ‘first aid’ response and we
will recharge the costs of any pollution control equipment used to you.
7. The pollution control hierarchy
If, despite your site management procedures, you have a spill, there are options to help you manage it.
These are based around the pollution control hierarchy, figure 1. Many of the facilities, types of
equipment and techniques included in the hierarchy are described in Section 8. Where appropriate,
we’ve also included references to further guidance on specific facilities and techniques.
Figure 1. The Pollution Control hierarchy
Preferred response
1. Contain at Source
2. Contain close to Source
3. Contain on the surface
4. Contain in the drainage system
Least Preferred response
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The actions detailed in your Pollution Incident Response Plan should normally follow the pollution
control hierarchy to help you reduce the impact of a spill. If you follow the hierarchy, the spill will be
contained as early as possible. This reduces the quantities lost and the level of pollution caused. You
may need to use several parts of the hierarchy, for example if a spill that’s been leaking for some time
is found. Or it may be better to skip a stage, for example by containing a spill in the drainage system
instead of on the surface as it may be easier to pump the spill to safe storage and disposal from here.
If you have a spill that’s flowing directly to soil or unmade ground, you should follow the first two parts
of the pollution control hierarchy then look at the advice for spill clean-up and lessons learnt, section
11. If your pollution risk assessment shows that this situation could cause pollution at your site, you
should consider putting an impermeable surface over the area.
The Fire and Rescue Service Manual on Environment Protection, reference 13, gives more detail
about many of the pollution control options for each part of the hierarchy and pollution control
equipment that may be suitable.
8. Pollution control options and equipment
The pollution control hierarchy gives you options for how to control a spill. These options are explained
more fully below, with suggestions for pollution control equipment that may help you. These
suggestions are only examples and shouldn’t limit your pollution control choices. Not all examples will
be appropriate for your site; you should follow the prioritised risks from your pollution risk assessment.
We suggest you ask the person who completed your risk assessment or your pollution control
equipment supplier if they can suggest the best options or equipment that would work for you. Some
pieces of equipment will need to be maintained or tested to make sure it’s always in working order.
You should refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Your equipment should be placed near to where it may be needed, for example drain mats near to
manhole covers and open drain gullies. It should be easily accessible but protected from damage and
unauthorised use.
Employees should be trained how to use the equipment safely and what suitable Personal Protective
Equipment they need. Their health and safety is always more important than stopping a spill.
Whatever pollution control method you use, you should clean up the material that is already spilt as
soon as possible, see section 11.
8.1 Contain at source
The most effective place to stop a spill is where the spill is happening, at the source. If the primary
container or secondary containment have been breached or failed for any reason, try to contain the
spill where it’s happening. This will reduce the quantity of material released, meaning there’s less spilt
material that can cause pollution.
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8.1.1 Sealing the damaged container or pipework
This option involves physically blocking the leak and stopping any more
material being spilled. This isn’t a permanent fix and you will have to repair
or replace the damaged container or pipework as soon as possible
Demonstration of leak
sealing putty stopping a
water leak.
Proprietary leak sealing putty. One of the simplest ways to block a leaking
container or pipe is to cover the hole with a temporary sealant. Leak sealing
putty is available either ready mixed, or as a powder you mix with water. You
should follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply the putty. A more
permanent method may be required before you can move the damaged
Leak sealing equipment. This equipment is designed for when a tank, storage drum or valve has been
punctured or damaged. The equipment may be a pad or clamp you fix over the damaged area like a
plaster, or may be a solid or inflatable ‘wedge’ you can insert into the damaged area and inflate.
8.1.2 Turning a container
If you can, turn a small container, for example an oil drum, so that the damaged part is to the top and
the material is no longer spilling from it. Secure the container so it can’t roll or turn back over. This will
give you time to take action to stop already spilt material spreading further and to make other plans to
secure the damaged container.
8.1.3 Putting a leaking container into another secure container
If possible, place a leaking primary container into a clean undamaged container to prevent any more
leakage. You will need to plan for this option to make sure the second container has no contamination,
so any spilt material you put into it doesn’t react with its former contents, and is made from a material
that won’t be damaged by the leaking material and cause a bigger problem.
Overdrum. These are large plastic drums designed to safely store leaking or damaged drums, or other
containers. They’re made from chemically-resistant plastic, but you should check with your supplier to
make sure they’re suitable for the materials you have on site. Liners may be available for overdrums to
make re-use easier.
An overdrum can also be used as a temporary store for a small quantity of a spilt liquid, see section
8.1.4 Close any valves on pipework to stop material flow
Depending on where the spill is coming from, it may be possible to close valves in the pipe work to
stop, or minimise, the amount of material that can be spilt.
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8.2 Contain close to source
If you can’t stop the spill where it’s happening, aim to stop it as close to the source as possible. Where
the spill has escaped from the primary and secondary containers you should try to stop it spreading.
8.2.1 Transferring the leaking material into an undamaged container
If you can safely move the material that is spilling into another container, it will limit the size of the spill.
You’ll need to have a suitable container and pump available, which may need to be safe for use in
flammable environments. Manual pumps may be suitable for small spills but would be inefficient for
moving large volumes.
8.2.2 Use sorbent products to soak up the spill
Sorbents are usually available as loose granules, sheets or rolls, pillows or
booms. They can be used to soak up a spill and stop it spreading. There are
different types of sorbent available, for example oil selective or chemically
resistant sorbents. These types are described in British Standard BS 7959
Part 1: 2004, reference 14. You will need to select the appropriate sorbent for
the materials on your site. Guidance is available to help you choose the right
sorbent for your product and site, reference 15.
Chemical sorbent
being used to contain
a small spill.
Using sorbents generates waste; only use them on small spills, or where a
spill has been contained to stop any further spread. All used sorbents must
be disposed of according to the Duty of Care and, if soaked in oil or
chemicals, may be hazardous waste or special waste in Scotland, section 11.
8.2.3 Use small portable containers to collect the spill
You may be able to collect material that’s spilling as it leaves the primary
container or secondary containment, for example a damaged vehicle fuel tank
or split pipework. Portable storage tanks are usually made from synthetic
rubber, polymers or reinforced plastic and they come in a variety of sizes. The
small pack size and light weight of the tanks allows them to be easily and
safely moved to the spill. Small containers, for example pop-up pools or
overdrums, can safely be put on the ground where the spill is happening to
stop it going any further.
A small portable
container in use to
contain a fuel leak.
8.3 Contain on the surface
If the spill is spreading and you can’t safely or effectively contain it near to its
source, aim to stop the material getting into the drainage system or onto any unsurfaced ground,
unless your incident response plan indicates that you can use your drainage system to contain the
spill. Once a spill has been contained, it’s easier to remove or transfer into a suitable temporary
container to stop it causing more contamination; you should do this as soon as it’s safe.
If you can contain the spill on the surface, before it reaches your drainage system, you may be able to
transfer it to a temporary container to stop it causing more contamination before you finish cleaning up
the spill.
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8.3.1 Use booms to prevent the material spreading
Booms can be used to divert or contain spills on hard surfaces.
There are two main types:
A physical barrier boom, often made of plastic, with different
sections that you’ll need to fill with water; the boom can be
positioned to contain a spill, isolate a drain or to divert the flow
towards a specific area.
Sorbent booms that can soak up a spill and stop it flowing any
further, or can be used together with a barrier boom to soak up
any spill leaking from below the barrier.
Barrier boom used to contain oil spill on
a road surface.
Photo credit: Lancashire FRS
8.3.2 Use drain mats to cover surface drain openings and
manhole covers
Drain mats or surface drain seals seal a drain by covering the surface of a
manhole cover or drainage gully. They stop liquid flowing into the
drainage system and help contain it. There are different types, including
clay mats and water-filled bags. Clay mats are single use but you may be
able to have other types cleaned for re-use.
Keep drain mats close to where they might be used. Identify where liquid
that is held back by a drain mat will collect as you may need to keep
people away from it until it can be cleaned up.
8.3.3 Use temporary storage containers, portable tanks
Demonstration of a clay
drain mat in use
preventing coloured water
entering a drain.
Once a spill has been contained you may be able to transfer it into a temporary storage container,
where it can be held safely until it’s cleaned up.
Portable tanks are usually made from synthetic rubber, polymers or reinforced plastic. They’re
available in a variety of sizes; some have liners you can use so the tank is easier to clean and re-use.
Because the tanks are portable they can be moved to near the spill, or to where any run-off has been
contained. If you’re planning to use a portable tank during an incident, be aware that:
Demonstration of a portable
tank used to hold water.
Dealing with spills: PPG 22
You’ll need a pump, which may need to be suitable for
flammable atmospheres, in case of an oil, fuel or chemical
You should have a big enough area of ground to put the tank,
near to where your spill will have been collected, which
should be level and stable.
You may need more than one person to move and position
the tank.
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8.4 Contain in the drainage system
If the spill has spread so far that it’s already entered the drainage system, try to keep it there and stop
it entering the environment.
If you can ‘close’ your drainage system, you may be able to use its capacity as a temporary
containment system to hold the pollutant safely until it can be dealt with properly. In some cases, it
may be possible to hose any remaining spilt material into the sealed drainage system, allowing the
incident to be dealt with more quickly and safely.
Before you choose this option, make sure the spilt material won’t cause an explosive atmosphere
within your drainage system, unless the system is designed to control the risk of explosion, see
reference 16.
Make sure the drainage system can be completely sealed, that it’s resistant to the material spilt and
can provide enough capacity to contain any possible spill; a drainage survey should help you find this
information. This will allow the material to be removed safely by a registered waste carrier.
You must also be aware of what will happen to overflows from gullies and other entry or exit points to
the drainage system. This will vary depending on where the drainage flows to, slopes on your site and
weather conditions. Contaminated liquid may back up and discharge through storm overflows, collect
in areas of your site or overflow and bypass the drainage system.
High rainfall will reduce the capacity of your drainage system and create higher volumes of
contaminated water. It may cause flooding if the drains back up that could create a hazard itself. If
your pollution incident response plan includes the option to contain spills in the drainage system,
consider separating your roof and yard drainage from areas where a spill is likely and other site
8.4.1 Closing oil separators
Oil separators are designed to contain spills of hydrocarbons and other liquids that are lighter than,
and don’t mix with, water. They won’t contain soluble substances such as soluble oils, biofuels,
emission reduction solutions, for example AdBlue, or solvents that mix with water. An oil separator
won’t work properly if degreasing agents or detergents can drain to, or are put into, it.
Information about where oil separators are needed, choosing the right type and size of separator,
closure devices and alarms and separator maintenance is available in ‘The use and design of oil
separators: PPG 3’, reference 17.
Oil separators can be fitted with manual or automatic closing penstock valves at both inlet and outlet to
contain larger spills. If you have a spill that has entered the drainage system, it may be possible to
close the entrance to the separator to stop it becoming overwhelmed and protect it, or close the exit
valve to allow the spill to collect in the separator. If your incident response planning includes using
separators to contain large spills of hydrocarbons, you shouldn’t use bypass separators.
Check your separator after any spill has entered the drainage system and have it emptied and
maintained if needed. Oil spills may have reduced your separator capacity and other spills may affect
how well your separator works. Use a specialist contractor to maintain your separator.
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8.4.2 Closing penstock valves or pollution control valves in your drainage system
Shut-off valves and penstocks can isolate part or the whole of a site’s drainage system. They can help
retain a spill on site. How effective they are depends on the capacity and condition of the drainage
system. They may be operated manually on site or triggered by automatic sensors.
Generally, simple systems are best. Automatic sensors and closure devices may be used to make
sure the valves close quickly on sites where an incident might not be noticed immediately. If you have
an incident, it’s essential to check if the valves have worked as soon as possible, either by visual
inspection or telemetry.
8.4.3 Pipe blockers
If your drainage system doesn’t have shut-off valves or penstocks that
you can close in an emergency, or they aren’t in suitable places, you
may be able to seal your drainage system using pipe blockers. These
can be fitted inside a pipe or gully. They’re usually purpose-made
bags or tubes which are inflated with air, although a builder’s drain
bung can also be effective.
Make sure the pressure head of the contained liquid doesn’t cause the
pipe blocker to fail.
A pipe blocker being inserted
into a drain.
Consider the health and safety of the person installing or removing a drainage blocker to make sure
they aren’t exposed to any hazardous conditions or materials.
8.5 Contain on or in the watercourse
If the spill has escaped from the drainage system into a watercourse, lake, loch, lough or pond, you
may be able to limit the environmental damage by containing it on or in the watercourse before it
If the spilt material floats on water, for example oil, you may be able to put a river boom across the
If the spilt material mixes with water, you’ll need to block the whole flow of the watercourse by
damming it. This is only suitable for small watercourses.
You may also be able to put a boom across the outfall from your site.
These pollution control methods can have effects beyond containing the spilt material, for example
affecting river navigation or the risk of flooding.
Only consider these options in your pollution incident response plan if you have:
fully identified the possible effects and risks;
pre-selected suitable places, downstream of the discharge point into the watercourse, where
you can safely do this.
You must fully identify the possible effects and risks before including these options in your pollution
incident response plan and ask us for advice. You must ask us and the navigation authority for advice
before finalising these plans. You may also need to ask the permission of the land owner alongside
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the watercourse before you can plan for this option. If you have a spill in England, Northern Ireland or
Wales, you’ll need to tell us before you boom or dam a watercourse.
When you select the booming place, you must take account of:
Buried services, for example electricity cables or oil pipes, to make sure these won’t be hit
when the booms are secured.
How fast the watercourse flows; too fast and the spilt material will wash past or under the
Variation in flows at different times of the year.
How a tanker may gain access to the side of the watercourse to remove the collected
Contact the spill response company in your incident response plan to help you decide on suitable
booming points as they have experience of putting booms in place.
If you’ve had a spill that has reached a watercourse, lake, loch, lough or pond, call our Hotline on 0800
80 70 60 to let us know so we can give you pollution control advice. At this time you should let us
know if you have or will deploy a boom or dam the water, especially if the structure across the water
will affect other users of the water. We can then warn other people or companies who use the water,
for example water companies who abstract water for drinking water, that the water may have pollutants
in it.
8.5.1 Deploy a river boom
You may be able to use a river boom to collect oil flowing down a
watercourse. A river boom is a physical barrier designed to float partly
above and partly below the water surface. They can be solid but
buoyant booms that piece together to the length you need, or inflatable
booms you cut to the length you need, with two or more compartments;
the lower one(s) to fill with water and a higher one(s) to fill with air.
Only use booms at pre-selected sites to make sure that the people
putting the booms in place are safe. They should be trained how to
use and secure the booms.
A river boom in place across a
small water course
You may be able to put a sorbent boom downstream of the river boom to soak up any small amounts
of oil that pass the river boom. This will only work with oil selective sorbent booms that float on the
water’s surface.
We recommend that the ends of the booms tethered to the banks are staggered, see Figure 2; this
allows you to collect the spilt material in one area near to the bank so it can be removed from the
watercourse, often using a vacuum tanker.
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Figure 2: Boom deployment on a watercourse
Secure anchor points
River bank
River boom
Sorbent boom
Direction of water flow
Collected oil
If, after as much of the spill has been removed as possible, there’s still a small amount left, you may be
able to use oil selective sorbent booms or pads to collect extra spilt material. We don’t recommend
using loose granular sorbents on a watercourse unless you‘re cleaning a reed bed.
Any used sorbents may be classed as hazardous waste or special waste in Scotland. See section 11
for information about safe and legal disposal.
8.5.2 Dam the watercourse
If the spilt material mixes with water you can’t boom the watercourse as the pollution will just flow
under the boom. If it‘s a small watercourse and has a low flow rate, you may be able to dam it and
stop the water flow which will prevent the pollution spreading.
You can use different materials to build a dam, for example sand bags, wooden planks, hay bales and
soil. Keep these securely near your planned damming point and train people how to dam the
If your incident response plan includes the option to dam a watercourse, you must also include plans to
have the contaminated water removed as quickly as possible. Water will quickly collect behind the
dam and could flood other people’s property and/or wildlife habitats with polluted water. You’re
responsible for making sure this doesn’t happen.
You’ll need an alternative response plan in case high flow or rainfall makes damming impractical.
8.6 Improvised equipment
If you have a spill and pollution control equipment isn’t readily available, you may be able to contain it
using materials already on your site like:
salvage sheets or tarpaulin and wooden planks to create a temporary boom in a river;
fire hoses used as a boom;
straw bales used as a boom and sorbent;
a shovel to spread sand or earth onto small spillages or to construct a dam;
a car foot well mat or a sheet of polythene, weighed down with sand or earth as a drain seal.
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Sand and sand bags
If you have no other sorbent products available, dry sand or earth may soak up a spill of oil or
chemicals. Sand bags can be used to channel substances to a collection point, to block off drains,
contain spills or to dam ditches. Once contaminated, sand and sand bags should be properly disposed
of and not washed into drainage systems.
9. Site specific pollution control options
Your site pollution risk assessment may identify that you need or can use site specific pollution control
systems. These can include on-site structures that you can divert or pump a spill to, to contain the
pollution. The person who completed your risk assessment should be able to give you advice on the
suitability of different options.
All these options are only short term containment measures and you should plan to remove contained
material as soon as possible to prevent further risk to the environment.
9.1 Containment lagoons and ponds
Where the size and slopes of your site and the ground and soil conditions are suitable, earth banked
containment lagoons can provide cost effective, remote containment systems. You may also be able
to use them to contain and re-use firewater run-off.
Lagoons or ponds may be constructed above or below the surrounding ground level depending on the
most cost effective option for your site.
To protect groundwater, the lagoon or pond must be impermeable. This may mean you need to put an
impermeable liner into the lagoon or pond as it’s built to make sure it doesn’t leak. Where a liner isn’t
needed, we recommend a minimum of 1 metre of engineered clay, with a maximum permeability of
1x10-9 m/sec to line the area.
Lagoons and ponds should be built so they can be isolated from the main drainage system in an
emergency. Flood defence installations, such as a balancing lagoon or shared, off-site flood storage
facilities may be used to contain a spillage, providing that they incorporate shut-off devices, unless a
flood is happening or expected. If pumped storage or transfer facilities are in use, a back-up power
supply should be considered.
9.2 Tanks
You may be able to use purpose-built tanks to temporarily contain a spill. Although most tanks aren’t
designed specifically for this use, the UK standards for liquid storage tanks and vessels are high and
many of these are suitable for use as containment. They may be more expensive than lagoons, but
this can be offset by the smaller land area required. A tank may also allow firewater to be contained
and re-used in some circumstances.
The actual type, size, design standards and protective finishes of the tank will be influenced by how
high the risk your site poses to the environment, the retention time, the quantity and the nature of the
materials stored. A more economical option might be to use a redundant or spare tank. If you‘re
considering this, make sure the tank has been cleaned so that any spilt material you put into it doesn’t
react with its former contents.
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Make sure any tank you use remains fit for purpose and doesn’t leak. The tank will need to be
protected from corrosion and aggressive conditions. This may be provided by a range of coatings,
including bitumastic paints, epoxy coatings and rubber and glass linings. These will be determined by
the substance to be contained, as well as other corrosive influences. You should inspect your tanks
regularly and may need to have them tested. If an inspection or test highlighted that the tank needs to
be repaired, you should do this as soon as possible.
When you design a tank system for pollution control, consider the worst possible case scenario: total
containment failure of your largest storage container or tank at the same time as heavy rainfall.
In some emergencies, it may be possible to use storm tanks in the sewerage system, at a sewage
treatment works (STW) or at other effluent treatment facilities. You must have agreement from the
sewer provider or treatment plant operator before you do this. Only use this option as a last resort and
don’t rely on it, as the tanks may be full, for example after heavy rainfall. The effects of the discharge
on the STW should also be considered, as damage to the treatment process may result in greater
environmental harm, due to the discharge of raw or partially treated sewage, as well as the
contaminated run-off.
9.3 Sacrificial areas
You may be able to allocate areas on your site as sacrificial areas. These are areas that under normal
circumstances have other uses, for example car parks or hard standing, but if you have a spill you can
divert or pump the spill there. The area must be impermeable to prevent spilt materials causing
groundwater contamination.
Bunding car parks and other hard standing areas - Impermeable yards, roads and parking areas can
be converted to temporary lagoons using sandbags, suitably excavated soil or sand from emergency
stockpiles to form perimeter bunds, but only if the surface has been maintained and is in good
condition. Permanently installed bunding, for example with low kerbs or roll-over bunds, around
suitable impermeable areas, the entire site, or just the sensitive area, is a better option.
If you have a spill, all drain inlets, such as gullies, within the area, must be sealed to prevent the
pollutant escaping. See Section 8.3 for information about containing spills on the surface. If
appropriate, a liner may be used to improve the impermeability of the sacrificial area to protect
You may be able to combine a sacrificial area with containing a spill in your drainage system to contain
a larger volume of liquid that your drainage system can hold.
9.4 Pits and trenches
You may be able to use pits or trenches when other pollution control methods have failed or no other
method is available. You should consider their use carefully due to the risk of groundwater
contamination; ask us for advice when you’re planning for this option. Use a liner to protect against
land and groundwater contamination; this is essential in areas of high groundwater vulnerability. You
should ensure the liner will remain undamaged by the material spilt. If you don’t use a liner the
contaminated ground will need to be removed and legally disposed of as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Pits and trenches may be used to add reagents for neutralising harmful substances or other clean up
products (see section 11.4.2).
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10. Spills on a road or highway
It’s more difficult to write an incident response plan for a spill on a road or highway as you can’t predict
where it may happen and you’re less likely to know about the local environment or any existing
pollution control options.
If your drivers follow specific routes, you can find out about environmentally sensitive areas and local
drainage systems on those routes. You may be able to agree pollution incident response plans with
the FRS, us, the local authority or highway or road authority. A plan can give you information about
who to contact if you have a collision or a spill and the size of a spill you should call us about. It should
also address incident response and clean-up or remediation responsibilities, as any delay in incident
response can make an incident harder and more expensive to deal with.
If you have a spill on a road or highway and are in any doubt about the environmental effects, call us
for advice.
Even if you can’t write a pollution incident response plan, you can still take measures to minimise the
environmental and public health effects of a spill.
10.1 Correct signage
Vehicles must have the correct signage and appropriate documents. For example a ‘Hazard Warning
Panel’, for bulk or tank transportation, with the UN Number (United Nations’ Globally Harmonised
System of classification and labelling of chemicals) of the substance being carried, an emergency
action code (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) or Hazard Information Number and in some
circumstances an emergency phone number. Plain orange plates may be displayed on vehicles
carrying dangerous goods in packages or intermediate bulk containers (IBCs). You may also need to
display the Environmentally Hazardous Substance mark. Depending on what you're transporting this
will be a legal requirement under the Carriage of Dangerous Goods Regulations or ADR, references 18
and 19.
You should consider using the Road Tankers and Tank Containers ‘Black and White Marking Scheme’,
see reference 20, for substances that aren’t classified as dangerous under the UN Number
classification system, but that will pollute the environment, for example beverages, food or detergents.
This scheme follows the principles of the Hazard Warning Panel in identifying an emergency action
code and specialist advice phone number to allow prompt action from emergency responders. The
Black and White marking scheme only applies in the UK and these panels should be removed before
travelling internationally.
Correct signage, and documentation in the vehicle, enables emergency responders to respond quickly
and appropriately when they arrive at a spill or collision; they can identify the material being carried so
they can protect their own and the public’s health and safety and also protect the environment.
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10.2 Vehicle spill kits and training
We recommend that all vehicles transporting goods carry a spill kit and
personal protective equipment appropriate to the goods being transported.
Depending on what you’re transporting, carrying some pollution control
equipment will be a legal requirement, references 18 and 19. This may
sometimes mean a vehicle needs a dual purpose spill kit for the material
being carried and the contents of the fuel tank.
Sign indicating location of
Drivers should be trained how to use the spill kit safely and effectively, and
a highway pollution
control device (PCD).
when they should call us, the emergency services and highway or road
Photo credit: Highways
authorities. ADR training requirements and 'instructions in writing' covers
this subject. Drivers should know the most appropriate action to contain a
spill and protect the environment. This should follow the pollution control hierarchy above in section 7.
They should be able to recognise signs by the highway that show where pollution control devices may
be available so they can highlight these to emergency responders when they arrive and save valuable
10.3 Emergency responders
The FRS carry some pollution control equipment and, as primary responders, are able to respond to an
incident quickly. As they usually arrive at an incident before many other services, they may be able to
help contain a spill using pollution control equipment they carry or by operating pollution control
Some highway or road authority contractors also carry pollution control equipment but their response
time may not be as fast as the emergency services. If you have a spill that’s spreading, contact the
highway or road authority, or their local representatives, as they may have plans of the local drainage
systems that could help contain a spill. They can also manage traffic around the incident and make
sure the road is safe to use after the spill is cleaned up.
The Chemical Industries Association runs a rapid response scheme ‘Chemsafe’ that can provide
information, advice or help at an incident. They aim to reduce the effect of a chemical distribution
incident on the public, property and the environment. See other sources of information for more
10.4 Spill from a vehicle fuel tank
If you have an accident or road traffic collision that causes the vehicle fuel tank to leak, take care in
case the leaking fuel produces flammable vapours. If it’s safe to do so, use your vehicle spill kit to stop
the spill from spreading.
If your diesel vehicle has an emission reduction solution tank, for example for AdBlue, to reduce your
greenhouse gas emissions, check it isn’t leaking after any collision. If it’s leaking, try to stop the spill
spreading. This solution is a mixture of urea and water; it’s highly toxic to river life and can cause
extensive groundwater pollution.
10.5 Spill from a tanker
If a tanker transporting material is damaged in transit, by collision with another vehicle or if something
hits it, and starts to leak, the driver should stop the vehicle. If it’s safe to do so, they should use their
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vehicle spill kit to try and contain the spill. It may then be possible to transfer the remaining product
into another undamaged tanker.
11. Spill Clean up
After you’ve stopped a spill getting any worse and contained the material, you should clean it up as
soon as possible to prevent further risk to the environment and people. A spill contractor may be able
to help with this. We recommend that mechanical recovery is used to remove as much of the collected
material as possible before you use sorbents. These methods don’t add to any pollution that’s already
been caused and create as little waste as possible.
It’s important that the spilt material, or any residue after its removal, can’t continue to cause pollution.
You may need to employ specialist companies to help you determine if there is still a pollution risk and
to clean up.
We recommend you contact UK Spill to find a reputable company to help you.
It isn’t the responsibility of the FRS or us to make sure the waste from the spill is kept safely until it can
be legally disposed of. Your Incident Response Plan should include details of who will look after your
site after the spill has been made safe until the clean-up is finished.
Any material that you’ve collected in pools, tanks, sacrificial areas or that’s being held in place with a
boom must be transferred to a safe container or removed as safely and quickly as possible. After the
collected material has been removed, check to see if the spill caused land or groundwater
contamination, see section 11.5.
If you’ve used any re-usable equipment to contain the spill, for example containment tanks, it should
be emptied and cleaned as soon as possible so it’s ready to use again.
Any contaminated sorbents, soil or sand must be disposed of in accordance with the Duty of Care, see
We have no direct responsibility for the disposal of waste and pollutants after an incident. We will only
take action when there is an immediate threat to the environment and all other routes have been
exhausted, or the response time scale is unacceptable. In normal circumstances, we expect the
polluter or responsible person to carry out or organise the clean-up using registered waste contractors.
Where the polluter can’t be found, responsibilities are:
Local authority – for materials on playing fields, public open spaces, beaches.
Land owner or occupier – for materials on private land or inside premises.
Highway or road authorities or their representatives – for materials on highways and major
trunk roads.
County, metropolitan, or unitary authorities – for materials on roads not covered by the road
In England, Northern Ireland and Wales if we have to take action during an incident or to clean up after
your spill or if the FRS have helped with emergency containment, we will normally recharge you for the
time and equipment that’s been used.
In Scotland, we can recover the costs of clean-up operations if you are legally required to do the work
but fail to do so.
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11.1 Waste management and your legal duty of care
Waste material from an incident will come under the Duty of Care from the Environmental Protection
Act 1990. This means you have a legal duty to make sure that any waste the incident produces:
doesn’t escape your control;
is transferred only to a registered waste carrier, someone registered as exempt or to an
authorised site operator if you transport your own waste (you can check our web sites for
listings; exempt waste carriers may not be listed and, if you need to confirm your carrier has
an exemption, you should contact us);
is covered by a waste transfer note, with a full description of what it is, when you transfer it to
someone else;
is disposed of lawfully.
If it’s hazardous waste or special waste in Scotland, for example waste oil, acids and/or solvents or
sorbents and soil contaminated with these, additional requirements will apply.
In England and Wales hazardous waste can’t be moved without a consignment note, unless the waste
is from:
An ‘emergency or grave danger’ as defined in regulation 61 of the Hazardous Waste
Regulations; an emergency or grave danger does not include simply unforeseen
circumstances, for example, where there is no immediate threat of release of hazardous
waste or unexpected arrival of a waste collector’s vehicle to collect waste, see reference 21
for details.
One of the situations described by the Environment Agency Regulatory Position statement
‘Premises Notification for the Hazardous Waste Regulations’; all other requirements of the
Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 (HWR) must be complied with.
In Northern Ireland you must complete a consignment note for the movement of all hazardous waste.
But in an 'emergency or grave danger', as defined in part 1 of the Hazardous Waste Regulations
(Northern Ireland) 2005, the waste can be moved before the consignment note is submitted, as long as
the consignment note is sent to NIEA as soon as reasonably practicable.
In Scotland consignment notes are always required when moving special waste, but in an emergency
situation the waste may be transferred before the consignment note is submitted, provided the
consignment note is completed and submitted to SEPA as soon as possible after the waste is moved.
You need to keep records of waste movement for a statutory period of two years for transfer notes or
three years for consignment notes. The legislation for non-hazardous waste in Northern Ireland is
slightly different and you should seek local advice.
The government on-line business advice and support service, see useful websites, explains how to
comply with waste legislation, or contact us for advice or visit our websites.
In some cases you may be able to dispose of wastes to the foul sewer at a controlled rate. If you’re
considering this, you must first have permission from both us and the local sewer provider.
11.2 Sewer jetting
Where pollution has entered sewers or drainage systems, these may need to be jetted to remove
residues. You must consult the local sewer provider if public sewers are involved. All effluent
generated by this process must be contained and disposed of by a registered waste contractor.
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11.3 Road and highway clean-up
If the spill has been on a road or highway, there may be other clean-up considerations beyond removal
of waste. To make sure other road users are safe, the surface must be left in a sound condition and
mustn’t be slippery; the highway or road authorities decide if a road is safe.
Some vehicle fuels, for example diesel, or chemicals may damage the road surface. The highway or
road authority may decide you need to employ or pay for a contractor to remove part of the roadway
and re-lay a new surface.
11.4 Material specific clean-up
If you have bulk storage or regular deliveries of particularly harmful materials, for example oil or strong
acids or alkalis, you could consider incident response plans specific to that material.
Your first response to a spill should be to follow the pollution control hierarchy taking actions detailed in
your Incident Response Plan. But after you’ve contained a spill then removed as much of it and any
contaminated soil or surfaces as possible, there may be additional actions where a more rigorous
clean-up is needed. If you’re unsure about this, contact us for advice.
11.4.1 Residue clean-up
If you need to clean residues left from a spill, products exist that are designed and manufactured to
clean up in different ways. These include dispersants, surface cleaners and bioremediation products.
To use some of these products, you have to add them directly into the water environment. Often the
products are pollutants on their own and can cause a worse problem if they aren’t used correctly and
for the right purpose.
You should carefully select an appropriate product for your spill and where you want to use it. Always
ask for our help to find the best product for your spill clean-up. For oil spills, our guidance ‘Oil clean-up
products – a summary of their characteristics’ reference 23 will help.
If you use a clean-up product on your site or on a road or highway, you must contain all the effluents
that are produced for correct disposal, see section 11.1. You shouldn’t allow any effluent to be washed
into, or run into, drains.
11.4.2 Neutralising agents
You may be able to safely neutralise some substances after they’ve been contained, for example soda
ash may be used for dealing with acid spillages. You’ll need to consider your options case by case,
with expert advice. For example this will depend on the volumes that have been spilt and contained
and where the spill is contained. You’ll need permission from us before you can use these agents to
make sure they don’t cause further environmental damage.
11.4.3 Animal carcass removal
If any fish or animals were killed during a spill from your site or vehicle, you’ll be responsible for their
safe and legal movement and disposal. A spill clean-up contractor may be able to help you remove
Make sure the dead fish or animals are collected and transported in leak-proof, closed containers or
sealed new packaging.
If the fish or animals were ‘wild’, you must follow the Duty of Care for their removal, see section 11.1.
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If the animals were being farmed and were killed during the spill incident, then animal by- products
rules apply. See the government on-line business advice and support service for information.
11.5 Site remediation
After any spill or pollution incident, you should assess the damage that’s been done and take any
necessary action to restore the environment. Your insurance company should be able to help you do
this. If you’re in any doubt about what you need to do, contact us.
Depending on what was spilt, how hazardous it is and local conditions, you may need an experienced
consultant to help you investigate if any land contamination or groundwater pollution has been caused
and to set up appropriate monitoring. If there is contamination or pollution, they can recommend
options to restore it.
Restoration of either land or groundwater is a specialised process and you’ll need to employ a
competent company to do this.
You should agree what your actions will be with us and agree a timescale for the work. If you don’t
take action to restore the environment, we may take enforcement action or, in England and Wales,
issue a sanction to make sure restoration is completed.
12. Spill review and lessons learnt
After any spill or incident, you should review what happened. The aim is to find what happened so you
can stop it from happening again, not to hold someone responsible.
The review should identify what went well and what could be improved. Include all your staff who
responded to the spill. We suggest you invite people from outside your company who also responded
to help in the review.
You should investigate:
what happened;
how did it happen;
how well did you respond;
how well did you follow your Incident Response Plan;
did the plan work, what went well and what didn’t;
what was the overall impact of the spill, both to the environment and costs to your business.
You may need to:
review and improve management procedures to make sure whatever caused the spill can’t
happen again;
review staff training for management procedures and incident response;
update your pollution Incident Response Plan if something didn’t work or could be improved.
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13. Glossary
Civil sanctions
These are a flexible range of enforcement tools that the Environment Agency
can use in England and Wales in addition to their more traditional options. They
focus on investment in environmental clean-up rather than costly legal battles.
More information is available on the Environment Agency web site.
sensitive area
Examples include:
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Area of Special Scientific Interest
(ASSI), Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protected Area (SPA),
National Nature Reserve, Sites of international conservation importance –
Ramsar sites, areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), National Scenic
Foul sewer
Sewers or pipes that collect foul water (sewage and trade effluent) and convey
it to a sewage treatment facility. They can be owned privately or by the local
sewage treatment provider.
Firewater run-off
Water that has been used to fight a fire, likely to be contaminated with the
products of combustion and unburnt materials that are washed off the site.
Water below the ground surface that is separate from surface water.
Groundwater is water below the surface of the ground in the zone of saturation
and contained within porous soil or rocks (aquifer).
A situation with the potential to result in harm. A hazard does not necessarily
lead to harm.
Hazardous waste
Wastes, specified in the European Waste Catalogue, that may be harmful to
human health or the environment. This includes but isn’t limited to:
Highway or Road
• paint (oil and solvent based);
• oils and oily sludges, for instance engine oil;
• other chemical wastes such as disinfectants, solvents, insecticides and
• garage waste such as used oil/fuel filters, aerosols, antifreeze and brake
fluids, lead acid batteries, contaminated rags;
• asbestos.
Includes the road carriageway, curtilage, pavement and embankment.
Highway or Road
Includes local councils and in:
Penstock valve
A sluice or floodgate to regulate the flow in a watercourse.
Permit or Licence
A permission issued by your environmental regulator that controls the
environmental impact of your business activities. It has conditions you must
follow to prevent your business from harming the environment or human health.
England, the Highways Agency or the Highways Authority
Northern Ireland, the Roads Service
Scotland, Transport Scotland
Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government
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Primary container
The container the material is stored in, for example a tank, intermediate bulk
container (IBC) or drum. It’s the first line of defence and must be fit for purpose.
The likelihood that the harm from particular hazards is realised including the
extent to which the risk covers the population affected and the consequences
for them.
Usually a bund, which can be integrated with the container, or a drip tray.
Secondary containment systems must be maintained and be big enough to
contain a spill from the associated container. See reference 2 for more
information on secondary containment for tank storage and reference 4 for
drum and IBC secondary containment.
A built below-ground structure that allows water or effluent to soak into the
ground without connection to any mains drainage or sewerage pipes.
A generic term for absorbents or adsorbents.
Special waste
The term used in Scotland for what is known as Hazardous waste in England,
Northern Ireland and Wales. See Hazardous waste above.
Spill kit
A collection of pollution control equipment held in one place and specific to the
materials you have on site. Proprietary oil and/or chemical spill kits are
available; check with your pollution control equipment supplier that the contents
are suitable for your needs before purchase. We recommend that a spill kit is
stored near to where it may be needed, for example next to storage containers
or delivery areas and in an alternative location in case it isn’t safe to reach
some of the spill kits during an incident.
Surface water
Sewer or pipes that collect surface water only from buildings, roads and yards,
which usually discharge directly into rivers, the sea or groundwater.
Drainage System or
Sustainable Urban
Drainage System
A sequence of management practices and control structures designed to drain
surface water in a more sustainable fashion than some conventional
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14. References
All the Pollution Prevention Guidance notes (PPGs) are available at:
Code of Practice on Guidance on Regulation 2009.
Above ground oil storage tanks: PPG 2.
Safe operation of refuelling facilities: PPG 7.
Drums and intermediate bulk containers: PPG 26.
Installation, decommissioning and removal of underground storage tanks: PPG 27.
Managing firewater and major spillages: PPG 18.
Controlled burn: PPG 28.
Combustible materials, prevent and control fire: PPG 29.
Incident Response Planning: PPG21.
10. The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (as amended)
11. For England and Wales, Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations:
Statutory Instrument 2010 No. 675 and amendments
For Northern Ireland, contact the Northern Ireland Environment Agency for guidance on the
appropriate legislation that covers your site or activities.
For Scotland, the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000: SSI 323
12. For England, The Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009:
Statutory Instrument 2009 No. 153
For Northern Ireland, The Environmental Liability (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations
(Northern Ireland) 2009: Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland 2009 No. 252
For Scotland, The Environmental Liability (Scotland) Regulations 2009: Scottish Statutory
Instrument 2009 No. 266
For Wales, The Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (Wales) Regulations
2009: Statutory Instrument 2009 No. 995 (W.81)
13. Fire and Rescue Service Manual Volume 2 Fire Service Operations – Environmental
Protection, The Stationery Office. ISBN 978 0 11 341316 4 CIRIA 164.
14. BS 7959 Materials used for the control of liquid spillages –
Part 1 Determination of sorbency,
Part 3: Colour coding of sorbent materials, The British Standards Institute.
15. Guidance of selection for use of sorbents BSIF/Environment Agency.
16. The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR):
Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 2776
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17. The use and design of oil separators: PPG3.
18. The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment
Regulations 2009: Statutory Instrument 2009 No. 1348.
The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment
Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.
19. ADR 2009, European agreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods
by road (current at time of publication, usually amended every two years).
20. Dangerous Goods Emergency action code list 2009.
21. For England and Wales, Hazardous waste regulations (England and Wales) 2005, Guidance
on emergencies and grave danger, Defra.
For Northern Ireland, the Hazardous Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005.
22. Road tankers and tank containers - black and white marking scheme.
23. Oil clean-up products and their application in England and Wales. Environment Agency
Other useful sources of information:
CIRIA Report 164, 1997, P A Mason, H J Amies, P R Edwards, G Rose, G Sangarapillai, Design of
containment systems for the prevention of water pollution from industrial incidents.
ISBN 0 86017 476 X
Safety and environmental standards for fuel storage sites Buncefield Standards Task Group (BSTG)
Final report – July 2007
CHEMSAFE is a voluntary scheme run by the Chemical Industries Association that has been
developed to provide a rapid and co-ordinated response to minimise harmful effects to the public,
property and the environment following a chemical distribution incident.
UK Spill - represent companies, organisations and individuals working in the oil spill industry in the UK:
For England and Wales, Groundwater Protection: Policy and Practice (GP3).
For Northern Ireland, Policy and practice for the protection of groundwater in Northern Ireland.
For Scotland, Groundwater protection policy for Scotland.
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Useful websites:
Buncefield Report: www.buncefieldinvestigation.gov.uk
The British Standards Institute http://shop.bsigroup.com/
Communities and Local Government (England and Wales): www.communities.gov.uk
Construction Industry Research and Information Association: www.ciria.org.uk
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (formerly the Department for Business Enterprise
and Regulatory Reform): www.bis.gov.uk
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: www.defra.gov.uk
The government on-line business advice and support service:
For England – Business Link www.businesslink.gov.uk
For Northern Ireland – NIBusinessInfo www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk
For Scotland - Business Gateway www.bgateway.com
For Wales - FS4B www.fs4b.wales.gov.uk
NetRegs – www.NetRegs.gov.uk
Health and Safety Executive: www.hse.gov.uk
Emergency planning for major accidents, http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg191.pdf
Maritime and Coastguard Agency: www.mcga.gov.uk
The National Chemical Emergency Centre: www.the-ncec.com
Scottish Government: www.scotland.gov.uk
The Stationery Office: www.tsoshop.co.uk
UK Government Decontamination Service: www.defra.gov.uk/gds
UK Resilience: Civil Contingencies Secretariat: www.ukresilience.info and
Water UK: http://www.water.org.uk/
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Unless otherwise stated, photos are provided by Darcy Spillcare Manufacture.
We welcome any questions or comments about this guidance, or suggestions about how we could
improve it. Please email us at [email protected], phone us on 03708
506 506 or write to us at:
Environment Agency
99 Parkway Avenue
S9 4WG.
This PPG is next due to be reviewed by March 2015.
UK wide Incident/Pollution hotline
0800 80 70 60 (24 hrs)
Floodline (England, Wales and Scotland)
flooding incident line (NI)
0845 988 1188
0300 2000 100
Environment Agency
Scottish Environment
Protection Agency
Northern Ireland Environment
Horizon House
Deanery Road,
Erskine Court
The Castle Business Park
Klondyke Building
Cromac Avenue
Gasworks Business Park
Lower Ormeau Road
Belfast BT7 2JA
Tel: 0117 934 4001
Tel: 01786 457 700
Fax: 01786 446 885
Tel: 0845 302 0008
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
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