Hartlepool Borough Council

Petroleum Filling Stations

Temporary and Permanent Decommissioning of Petrol Filling Stations

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Reference: Guidance for the Design, Construction, Modification and Maintenance of Petrol Filling Stations 2nd Edition APEA/IP Published April 2005

A Brief Summary

Why Temporary?

Consideration to future development or reinstatement and whether adequate safety control can be maintained for the facility.

Making Tanks Safe

Filling with Water:

  1. All pipe work except the vent pipe work should be drained and then disconnected in the manhole chambers of each tank. The vent remains connected.
  2. Residual Petrol should be removed from the tank or compartments.
  3. Each tank should be filled with water to a level just below the man lid.
  4. All disconnected pipe work should be sealed in the man way chamber.
  5. The Vent pipe work should be disconnected just above ground level.
  6. Filling should continue until clear water appears at the disconnected vent pipe.
  7. Note: The liquid that first appears may contain significant amounts of product. Release of this material could cause a safety hazard and it should be collected safely for disposal.
  8. Once the tank is full the vent pipe work, together with the flame trap outlet should be reconnected to allow the tank to breathe'.
  9. The filling/dipping pipe should be securely locked.
  10. Offset fill pipes should be adequately secured against unauthorised access, vandalism or inadvertent use.
  11. The water content of the tank(s) should be inspected at intervals of not less than once every 3 months and any reduction in level should be investigated, notified to the Enforcing Authority and appropriate collective action taken.

Partially Filling with Water or Diesel:

Where a tank(s) are taken out of service pending a decision on its future, it may be rendered temporarily safe, provided adequate controls can be maintained over the site by taking the following precautions:

  1. Remove residual petrol, bottom tank and ensure that the fill pipe is intact.
  2. Introduce sufficient water or diesel into the tank to maintain a liquid seal between the termination of the internal fill pipe and the tank vapour space. Note; Where diesel is being used it will be necessary to ensure electrical continuity between the tank and the tanker and that the flow rate is restricted to less than 1 m/s.
  3. Fix suitable warning notice at the manhole.
  4. Introduce a regular inspection regime to ensure that the facility is not interfered with and that the liquid seal is maintained at the fill pipe

Filling with Hydroscopic Foam:

  1. All pipe work except the vent pipe work should be drained and then disconnected in the manhole chamber of the tank. The tank should be bottomed as detailed above. In addition it may be necessary to treat the bottom of the tank with a proprietary emulsifier to ensure, as far as possible that all residual petrol is removed.
  2. The tank should be filled with hydroscopic foam generated on site and pumped directly into the tank. The foam should have a designed compressive strength of 15 tonnes/m2.
  3. Tanks filled with hydroscopic foam can be reinstated by mechanical removal of the foam or by using a solvent and vacuum extraction method.

Tanks left unused but with product remaining:

This is only acceptable if there is a surplus capacity. A Liquid seal must be maintained. Maintenance schedules should also be retained.


May be made temporarily safe by being left in situ. The following precautions should be taken:

  1. The dispensers should be electrically isolated, all suction lines drained back and flexible connectors disconnected.
  2. The dispenser suction entries should be plugged off and the suction and any vapour lines capped off in the under pump cavity.
  3. The dispenser should be protected from vandalism by sturdy wooden encasement or other suitable material

This method is only suitable for short periods of time (6 months maximum)

Dispensers removed from Site:

The following measures should be undertaken:

  1. Isolate electrically, drain all suction lines and disconnect flexible connectors.
  2. Dispensers should be drained of residual petrol and purged with nitrogen. The suction entries should be placed in storage or despatched for scrap.
  3. Cap off the suction line and any vapour lines in the under pump cavity.
  4. Infill the under pump cavity with a suitable backfill material


Interceptor Chambers should be emptied of all liquid and sludge contents by a Hazardous Waste Disposal Contractor. The chambers should then be replenished with clean water.

Electrical Installation:

This should disconnected by an electrical supplier who will apply the appropriate degree of disconnection (up to removal of the main intake box).


Depends on whether it was out of action for a short period (12-18 months) for cleaning or pending modifications or site development. A longer period may be agreed with the Petroleum Licensing Authority. In either case the procedure for reinstatement should be discussed with the Enforcement Authority before any work is commenced.

Reinstatement following Short Term:

A full visual inspection should be carried out and any defects or omissions rectified or replaced as the case may be.

Normally, the only testing necessary will be to prove the integrity of the tank lid gasket and pipe work reconnections. A Risk Assessment carried out will determine whether testing proves necessary.

Reinstatement following Long Term (18 month plus):

The site should be risk assessed to establish whether there are adequate safeguards in place to control the risks of fire, explosion and environmental pollution from the storage and handling of petrol.

The Filling Station electrical installation should be subjected to a full examination and test, with a compliance certificate issued before operating again.

(Extracted from the APE/IP Joint Publication 'The Blue Guide')

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