Contaminated land

How to prevent land contamination


If you have hazardous substances at your site, such as oil and chemicals, you must ensure that you don't cause land contamination or make any existing contamination worse.

Comply with your permit

You can prevent land contamination by following the terms of your pollution prevention and control permit or waste management licence if you have one - see environmental permits and licences - an overview.

You can also prevent land contamination by complying with any authorisations you have that aim to prevent water pollution - see preventing water pollution.

Manage your hazardous substances correctly

If your business uses hazardous substances, consider if they need to be stored on site, or if you could use less harmful alternatives. If no alternatives exist, try to reduce the amount that you use and only store the amount that you actually need at any time.

Keep materials that could harm the environment or human health separate from other materials. These materials include:

  • oils
  • solvents
  • pesticides
  • chemicals
  • radioactive substances

You should store hazardous substances in appropriate containers that have pollution prevention features, such as secondary containment systems. Label containers clearly - see storing oil and storing chemicals.

Handle any hazardous waste carefully - see dealing with hazardous waste.

Supervise refuelling and deliveries

You should supervise all refuelling operations and only refuel in a contained area away from waterways or surface water drains.

Supervise deliveries of materials to your site. Make sure you clearly label tanks with their contents and storage capacity, and provide a method for measuring the amount in the tank. This will reduce the risk of spills from overfilling.

Prepare a pollution incident response

You should ensure you have a pollution incident response procedure for dealing with spills. Make sure your staff are familiar with the procedure and know how to implement it.

You should report pollution incidents as soon as they happen by calling the NIEA Water Pollution Hotline on Tel 0800 80 70 60.

For more information see pollution incidents and environmental damage.

Inspect and maintain equipment regularly

You should regularly inspect and maintain all plant, pipework and other infrastructure, checking for damage, leaks and overflows. Service your equipment, storage containers and other infrastructure regularly to reduce the risk of leaks or spills. Keep maintenance and service records.

Train staff on safety procedures

Make sure that all your staff have the right level of training and that they fully understand their responsibility to prevent pollution. You should carry out a health and safety risk assessment to identify hazards and allow preventative measures to be put in place. Keep records of the training and risk assessments you carry out.

Make sure you have written procedures for dealing with pollution incidents and that everyone in the business understands them.