The Petrol Retailers Association and Car Wash Association teams are now ensconced in their own homes but continuing to represent and advise their members. Members can now access the ’Coronavirus’ section on our website, which is continuously updated to reflect the latest advice on the operation of all aspects of their businesses.

Unfortunately, a few of our members have made the decision to temporarily close their sites, and even this is not as straightforward as simply locking up and walking away as their legal duties do not end. We have provided them with the following advice:

The site operator (legal term under petroleum legislation is ’keeper’) remains responsible for the fire and explosion and environmental risks posed by the storage of fuel at the site, even if there are only residual amounts of fuel in the tank(s).

With the site closed for business, the safety-related risks are those associated with fuel leaking from the fuelling infrastructure and exposure of flammable vapour most likely due to tampering/vandalism. Reasonable steps need to be taken to alleviate the risks, however the chances of a leak that could lead to either a fire or explosion or ground or water source contamination are extremely low. We must however advise that it remains a legal duty to monitor fuel stock and take measures to mitigate the possible outcomes of a leak.

In addition, you need to think about dealing with emergencies as emergency responders will need to know who to contact in the event of an incident at the premises. It could be advantageous to display a notice on site giving the details of who should be contacted in the event of an incident.

We are aware that insurance cover is usually based on the normal operation of petrol filling stations. You should check that your cover remains in place should the site be left unattended for longer periods than is the norm. In addition, you should also speak to your fuel supplier about the situation and obtain their agreement to closure.

Upon re-opening, you need to carry out a thorough check for damage to all exposed elements of the fuelling infrastructure before allowing customers to access the equipment.