To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(1) what action her Department takes against site operators not carrying out a risk assessment at a petrol station as required by her Department's code;
(2) what action her Department takes against site operators declining or omitting to carry out a risk assessment at a petrol station as required by the DSEAR code; and if she will make a statement.
The Environment Agency has powers under the Groundwater Regulations 1998 to serve a notice to prohibit, or make subject to conditions, activities, such as operating a petrol station, which might put groundwater at risk. Failure to follow the Groundwater Protection Code, including the provisions on risk assessments, is not an offence in itself but shall be considered, along with individual site circumstances, by the Agency when deciding whether to serve a notice. The Agency will often, particularly where it perceives risks to be low, seek to address issues through dialogue before using these notice powers.
The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) are the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive. Enforcement of DSEAR at petrol filling stations is undertaken by the local Petroleum Licensing Authority (PLA). Regulation 5(1) requires that where a dangerous substance is present at the workplace, the employer should make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks. Should the PLA discover that such a risk assessment has not been undertaken, then the full range of regulatory action is available to the enforcing officer, ranging from a verbal request to undertake a risk assessment to, ultimately, prosecution.