What are the Legal Requirements for Interceptors?

There are no specified legal requirements that deal with interceptors.  However, this blog will discuss wider environmental obligations and how they do apply to interceptors.

What do interceptors do?

Interceptors are designed as pollution prevention and control devises.  They are large underground tanks on the drainage system that can be on the surface or foul drainage system and can be found in various areas on a site.  They are usually in areas of high pollution risk like vehicle washes and fuel islands and/ or at the outflow from the site.  Water from your site will lead to the tank where pollutants can settle out.  Oil will collect at the top while silt will settle to the bottom of the tank.  Other pollutants such as detergent could emulsify oil and affect the effectiveness of the interceptor.

What do the regulations say?

There are no specified legal requirements that state how you should manage your interceptors.  However, there are broader environmental obligations that do apply to interceptors.  All businesses must prevent pollution.  Under the Water Resources Act 1991, it is an offence to cause or knowingly permit any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter or any solid waste matter to enter any controlled waters.

This has two implications for interceptor management.  Firstly, installing an interceptor will contribute to preventing pollution that could be caused by your site by intercepting oil and silt that may otherwise escape and cause environmental damage.  Secondly, it you do not correctly manage your interceptor and carry out regular servicing, it could fail and release the pollutants it was designed to capture.  When interceptors are in use, they can fill up with oil and silt, which, if not removed, can block interceptors or eventually release the accumulated pollutants in a concentrated form.  Damaged interceptors could also be ineffective and cause pollution.  Regular servicing should check your interceptors and report any damage and you should take action to repair when required.

Are there any other guidelines?

The Environment Agency provides a variety of guidance on an array of environmental matters.  Their guidance on pollution prevention for business includes direction about when an interceptor is needed and the requirement to maintain and empty it as necessary.  Additional guidance includes pollution prevention guidelines issued by the Environment Agency and the European Standard BS EN 858 that has been adopted by the UK for the design, use, selection, installation, operation and maintenance of prefabricated interceptors.  Despite having now been revoked, Pollution Prevention Guideline 3 provides guidance on interceptors and is widely accepted by the industry.  Both the PPG and the European Standard state that interceptors should be serviced every 6 months and that an interceptor integrity check (read more here) should be completed every 5 years.

Interceptors are an essential piece of pollution prevention equipment.  In order to ensure they remain effective and so you meet your legal obligations to prevent pollution, you must maintain and service them regularly.