In Polish conditions, a farmer uses around 120 litres of diesel fuel per year to cultivate 1 ha of arable land. Fuel on a farm, according to the Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics, accounts for approximately 23 per cent of mechanisation costs.
From 1 January 2013, it is not possible to store fuel, diesel or petrol, in ordinary tanks (barrels) with only one external wall – according to the regulation of 12 December 2007, tanks must be double-walled. Fuel tanks should be buried in the ground and protected against the penetration of fuel into the ground, or, where they do not exceed 5,000 litres in capacity, they may be set on the ground surface, on a hardened, impermeable surface, marked with: “PETROL”, “FUEL OIL” or “DRIVE OIL”. Fertilisers, pesticides, wood and other combustible materials must not be stored in the vicinity of a diesel or petrol tank. It is also very important that storage areas are equipped with a pump for direct refuelling or pumping of oils into special containers (adapted and designed exclusively for filling tanks of tractors and other equipment), as well as a means of collecting spilled oils from the ground surface (sand, dry sawdust, peat). Most new bunded tanks are fitted with a pump with a dispenser. Particular attention should be paid to the refuelling site of vehicles on the farm, as they are a critical point for spillages and fuel leaks into surface and ground water. Therefore, mini-distributors should be equipped with a self-reflecting gun to reduce the possibility of fuel leakage during refuelling.
Rules for the storage of these flammable materials have been included in the Ministry of the Economy’s regulation on the detailed handling of waste oils.
When storing fuels, it is necessary to comply with fire safety rules due to the possible accumulation of vapours from petroleum products. The rooms where fuels and lubricants are stored must be made of non-combustible materials, well ventilated, lit with natural light, and the electrical installation should be explosion-proof. It is essential to equip the storage area with fire-fighting tools, i.e. a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, shovels and sand containers. In the case of ethanol tanks, opening keys made of non-sparking materials are also an essential piece of equipment. Only authorised persons may have access to the tanks.
Above-ground, double-walled tanks are available, equipped with a quick-connect coupling for filling from tanker trucks, a fuel spout hose with a litre counter and automatic rebound when the tank is filled in the vehicle. Lockable filler and distribution lids protect the tank from unauthorised access. A fuel level indicator in the tank, a filter on the suction line and an inspection hatch enable the tank to be used efficiently for many years.
The tank for hazardous substances, e.g. diesel fuel, should be located on the farm so that safe distances from other objects are maintained, viz:
- minimum – 10 m from residential and public buildings,
- from other buildings and from the neighbouring plot boundary – 5 m.
Most farmers, at the time of installation of the tank, are covered by the so-called simplified supervision, which means that no decision authorising its use is issued for this type of equipment. Also, no decision on environmental conditions is required for a project – a tank with a capacity of up to 2,500 L. When the size of the tank is or exceeds 2,500 L, the installation is subject to so-called limited supervision (tanks up to 15,000 L). In this case, in addition to the payment of annual fees to the Office of Technical Inspection, an inspection can be expected once every 2 years. Therefore, when choosing a tank with such a capacity, it is worth remembering above all that it should have inspection openings designed to allow internal inspection, cleaning, repair and possible testing. A tank with a capacity of 2,500 L or more should also be equipped with a leakage alarm device and safety features to prevent fuel from leaking into the ground.
The mini filling station must meet basic safety criteria. According to the regulations, the minimum distance from a house must be at least 10 m, from other buildings and the plot boundary at least 5 m. The minimum distance of the mini station from the road at least 3 m and from the forest 20 m.