Best Practice Oil and Fuel

Follow our best practice advice to prevent oil and fuel spills

Onboard yachts, motorboats and RIBS

  • Check bilges for oil before pumping
  • Fit bilge filters  
  • Maintain fuel lines, connections and seals to avoid leaks
  • Keep a drip tray under the engine so that you can spot leaks and fix quickly
  • Carry a spill kit, learn how to use it and train others
  • Educate students and safety boat/launch drivers on best practice procedures


  • Try to refuel at least 10 metres away from the water when possible.
  • Use a funnel and non drip nozzle to refuel outboards
  • Use a fuel collar around the fuel nozzle to catch drips
  • Never use detergents to disperse spilled oil in the water as they are more toxic to wildlife than the oil itself and break down the oil into small particles which are easily absorbed by small marine organisms
  • Avoid overfilling the tank and allow room for fuel to expand, especially in warm weather
  • Report oil and fuel spills to the Environment Agency. The legal limit is 15mg/l. in coastal waters.

Storage, Transport and Disposal

  • Containers must be of sufficient strength to avoid bursting or leakage under normal operating conditions
  • Containers must be securely stored within a secondary containment system (SCS) or bund.
  • Bunds must be able to hold 110% of largest container or 25% of total volume whichever is larger
  • When refuelling, whenever possible, do so within the bunded area   
  • Dispose of oil as hazardous waste in specialist containers where it can be reconditioned
  • Recycle old oil wherever possible at an Oil Bank Site
  • Dispose of oily rags as hazardous waste

Find out more

Leaflets and Resources