The Environment Agency is urging Northumberland residents with oil tanks to check them for leaks to protect the environment and reduce the risk of potentially large financial losses.
With winter in full swing, many households – particularly in rural areas – have had oil delivered for the cold weather.
Leaked oil can end up in drains, many of which lead directly to rivers, streams, lakes and even garden ponds, having the same effect as pouring it directly into the watercourse.
Oil is poisonous to fish and other wildlife and smothers plants. Just two litres of oil could seriously pollute the volume of fresh water needed to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Neil Paisley, from the Environment Agency’s environmental management team, said: “It’s not just the cost of losing the oil that can be expensive, clean up costs can be large and are not always covered by household insurance policies.”
To report an oil spill or leak, call the organisation’s 24-hour emergency hotline on 0800 807060.