Ensuring Distribution Centres and Manufacturing Facilities understand their vulnerability to fuel and chemical spills

SLR’s Risk Assessment and Toxicology team are helping a major European retailer within the UK to assess their Regional Distribution Centres’ vulnerability to fuel and chemical spills. This work follows an incident at one of the Distribution Centres where a release from a back-up generator fuel supply system posed an environmental risk.

All Distribution Centres and some manufacturing sites have bulk storage of chemicals and/ or fuels and are built with drainage, utility runs, underground ducts and structures that are surrounded by layers of gravel.

The work being carried out by SLR forms two aspects; an Environmental Assessment and a Spill Response Plan.

The Environmental Assessment is undertaken to determine the risks from chemical/fuel spills to the environment and the Spill Response Plan identifies measure to mitigate the risks and formulate a response if a release was to occur.

Initially each site is assessed in a desk based report by evaluating the environmental risk posed by fuel/ chemicals used on site taking into account the geology, hydrology and hydrogeology present at each site and in particular whether there are sensitive receptors near or on the site (i.e. residential neighbours, proximity to rivers/water courses, whether the site is on a drinking water aquifer etc). The report also enables an assessment of whether storage on site complies with Oil Storage Regulations, Environment Agency guidance and industry good practice.

A site walkover is undertaken to assess of visible and accessible fuel/ chemical storage, mitigation and distribution infrastructure. Information from each site is also used in the assessment including drainage plans, utility plans, fuel storage areas, amounts of fuel and chemicals stored, whether there are any ways of monitoring and controlling spills on site such as automatic detection systems on interceptors or control valves on surface water drainage outfalls.

The Environmental Assessment report summarises the risks are to environment from the current use, storage and on site practices and gives recommendations to allow improvements to be carried out if necessary. The recommendations would use a traffic light system to prioritise reducing any potential risks on site.

The spill response aspect is the assessment of each site to enable the production of a bespoke Spill Response plan and procedures to good environmental good practice. The procedures will include areas highlighted as vulnerable to a spill, what the hazards are and to what (i.e. people/ infrastructure), what equipment is held/ required, warning systems etc. As with the environmental assessment, the spill response plan discussions would also be held for the site the specifics of the emergency spill plan during a site walkover.

The Spill Response Plan includes the production of a site specific plan that references and takes into account pre-existing site emergency procedures and tailors the plan with due regard to them. All chemical and fuel storage is listed, along with all the mitigation measures already in place. Drawings, flow diagrams and guidance notes are produced based upon the chemical/ fuel storage and site specific drainage drawings allowing zoning of the site. This approach results in an appropriate specific response for each one of those zones. The spill response plan names the on site personnel who are responsible for the maintenance of the chemical/ fuel storage and mitigation equipment as well who is responsible for the response to any release. Weekly, monthly and bi-annual check lists are included within the guidance notes to help with ensuring that any procedures or maintenance regimes are adhered to.

By providing this support to companies with multiple distribution centres, SLR can enable companies to understand where the greatest risks are, to set ‘minimum’ standards across the entire portfolio of distribution centres, and also to create a robust standard for new distribution centres.


For more information about this expertise please contact:

Roy Bailey (rbailey@slrconsulting.com) or Jamie Mills (jmills@slrconsulting.com) from the SLR Risk Assessment & Toxicology Team.

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Key Contacts:

Roy Bailey

Jamie Mills