Investigation finds peril at the pumps

PUBLISHED: 16:35 14 December 2006 | UPDATED: 13:39 04 May 2010

UNDERCOVER trading standards officers have discovered that nine out of 10 Cambridgeshire garages targeted allowed petrol to be pumped into unsuitable containers. Posing as customers, they took an unapproved 10-litre white plastic water container to the ga

UNDERCOVER trading standards officers have discovered that nine out of 10 Cambridgeshire garages targeted allowed petrol to be pumped into unsuitable containers.

Posing as customers, they took an unapproved 10-litre white plastic water container to the garages to collect fuel. It was not only over the permitted size of five litres, but was fitted with a tap which posed a danger of leakage.

The trading standards officers made no attempt to hide the fact they were trying to fill up container and used the pump nearest to the operator. They also chose a time when the site was quiet.

Almost all the garages ignored strict safety rules relating to fuel being dispensed into suitable containers. David Broughton, of Cambridgeshire Trading Standards, said: "These results are disappointing especially when we are dealing with such a highly flammable substance.

"If fuel is delivered in an inappropriate container there is a danger that the container is more likely to leak or spill, and many plastics will melt when they come in contact with petrol.

"Using approved cans, which are clearly marked, means the possibility of an accident occurring when the cans are stored in garages and sheds is reduced.

"Accidents involving the storage of petrol are comparatively rare but they can cause damage to property, severe injury or even fatalities."

Filling station operators are duty bound to carry out a safety check to make sure containers are suitable for the purpose before pumps are authorised for use by each customer.

The undercover operation was designed to identify what checks, if any, were being carried out before the delivery of fuel. Out of those petrol sites visited, only one carried out any type of check.

As a result of these findings, warnings are being issued to petrol stations and follow-up action will be carried out to ensure they comply with the law. Trading Standards licenses all petrol stations, and legal action is an option if the terms of the licences are breached.

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