Petrol is a dangerous substance – it is a highly flammable liquid and can give off vapour, which can easily be set on fire.
When not handled safely, it has the potential to cause a serious fire and/or explosion, especially if there is a source of ignition nearby, for example a naked flame, an electrical spark or similar.
Because of these risks, storing petrol safely is covered by legislation.
What is the law on storing petrol safely?
The Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014 [PCR] – which came into force on 1 October 2014 – apply to:
- workplaces that store petrol where petrol is dispensed directly into the tank of a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, ie retail and non-retail petrol filling stations;
- non-workplace premises storing petrol, for example at private homes, or at clubs/associations (or similar)
Local authorities are the Petroleum Enforcement Authorities (PEAs) and they are responsible for enforcing the regulations. Locally, these authorities are:
- Borough of Poole Council
- Bournemouth Borough Council
- Dorset County Council
- Swindon Borough Council
- Wiltshire Council
Details of the relevant contacts at these authorities can be found at www.apea.org.uk/contacts/2
Storing petrol at home
You can store up to 30 litres of petrol at home or at non-workplace premises without informing your local Petroleum Enforcement Authority (PEA).
You can store it in:
- suitable portable plastic containers of up to 10 litres
- suitable portable metal containers of up to 20 litres
- one demountable fuel tank of up to 30 litres; or
- a combination of the above as long as no more than 30 litres is kept.
If you wish to store more than 30 litres of petrol, and up to a maximum of 275 litres of petrol at your home, you must advise your local Petroleum Enforcement Authority in writing, giving your name and address as the occupier of the storage place or the address where the petrol is stored. This is not a new requirement but carries forward long standing requirements of the previous legislation.
If you are storing up to 275 litres of petrol, you should be aware of the common storage requirements, which are as follows:
- Petrol must not be stored in your living accommodation.
- Petrol must not be dispensed (i.e. it is not pumped either manually or electrically from a storage tank) at your storage place.
- If your storage place is not in the open air, you need a direct exit to the open air and ventilation to this exit.
You should take all reasonable precautions in your storage place to prevent any sources of ignition or heat that would be able to ignite the petrol or its vapour.
You should not use petrol in the storage place other than in the fuel tank of any internal combustion engine in quantities (not exceeding 150 millilitres at any one time), for cleaning or as a solvent for repair purposes.
Safe storage and use of petrol in workplaces – Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR).
Further information on the Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014 – www.hse.gov.uk/fireandexplosion/petroleum-enforcement-authorities.htm