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Pollution Prevention

Oil storage

Oil is the one of the most common polluting substances reported to the Port of London Authority and Environment Agency on the Thames. Many operators on the Thames store oil afloat and these sites could cause pollution if the storage is not adequate. Waste oil is classified as hazardous waste and should be collected as described above.

Oil should be prevented from entering the Thames and secure bunded tanks. Bunding must have sufficient capacity to store at least 110% of the volume stored within the tank.

Volumes of waste oil over 200 litres in capacity must be stored with secondary containment to ensure that any spills or leaks are captured. It is recommended that all oil storage containers are placed on a drip tray or have a form of secondary containment so any spillages are prevented from entering the river.

When on vessels, containers must comply with the Oil Storage Regulations. It is recommended that spill kits be kept on board vessels in order to contain any accidental spillages or leaks. Any spill kits used to contain oil must be treated as hazardous waste also.



Any incident causing oil to be spilt and enter the river should be reported to the PLA via VTS under the oil spill plan. If you see any sheen this should also be reported to VTS. You can also report any pollution from land to the Environment Agency.

Contact details for both parties are below.


Bunkering is a hazardous activity and there is a potential for pollution and safety issues. All operators must ensure there is a robust plan for bunkering operations and take the necessary precautions to prevent pollution. For more information of the requirements during bunkering please refer to Bunkering Operations section of the Port Information Guide. 

Other chemicals

It is recommended that these principles are also applied to other pollutants - chemicals, paints, solvents etc. to prevent them spilling into the Thames and having a negative impact on the ecology of the river.

More information is available with this guidance note from the EA.

Contact details for incidents

Port of London Authority

Thames Barrier Navigation Control, Woolwich (Teddington - Crayfordness) 0208 855 0315 VHF Channel 14

Port Control Centre, Gravesend (Crayfordness - Sea Reach No 4 Buoy) 01474 562215 VHF Channel 68

Environment Agency

24 hour Incident Line 0800 80 70 60

Enquiries Line 03708 506 506

Floodline 24 hour 0345 988 1188