I am selling an outboard engine with an auxiliary fuel tank and I would prefer the tank to be empty before it is collected by the new owner, but you wouldn’t believe how difficult it has been for me to find a place where I can get rid of the petrol legally and safely. One of the problems is that this particular petrol contains a small quantity of 2-cycle oil which is necessary when running a 2-stroke engine. Any number of people would be very happy to be given petrol, but this is not the case when it has been mixed with oil.
At first I thought I would take the 50:1 petrol/oil mix to my local Council Dump, but after enquiring at their base I was told they only accept oil, not petrol, and they could not advise me were to dispose of the volatile liquid. I made further enquiries with my local Council Environmental Department and they suggested I take the petrol to a garage, preferably to a large garage owned by a well known company such as Esso or Shell. Again, I found that none of my local garages would accept the petrol for disposal. Further enquiries at the Council Office led to me asking at the Civic Amenity Helpline and they said PHF Waste, a private firm who undertakes waste disposal on behalf of the Council, may be able to collect the petrol from me. A spokesperson at PHF Waste said she would find out if the Council would pay for the service; if not, I would have to pay. She also said she would let me know the outcome, but to date I have not had a reply. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau couldn’t come up with any suggestions, other than that I should contact my local Council.
My enquiries didn’t end there. I thought to go online and make searches. The Automobile Association offered a service for removing fuel from vehicles that had been incorrectly filled with petrol when they should have been filled with diesel and vice versa. I was astonished at how much was charged for this service for a non-member - £250.00, and for a member, £184.00. The Government Environment Agency had absolutely nothing to offer. Then I thought to contact the Royal Yachting Association who took note of my problem and said they would get back to me the next day when their Green Blue representative would be available. He phoned me the following morning and suggested I should contact a local vehicle breaker’s yard. This I did, and I was astonished to find there was one within easy walking distance, of which I was unaware, because it was tucked away so discretely, hidden by trees at the end of nearby lane. The owner said he would take the petrol and dispose of it.
On reflection, I think there must be a fair number of people who would like to safely dispose of small quantities of petrol because they no longer use petrol lawnmowers or chainsaws, or like me, just want to get rid of it for reasons best known to themselves. I am of the opinion that Local Councils should provide a free or low-cost facility for the disposal of small quantities of petrol or diesel. Petrol is a dangerous, toxic and explosive liquid; therefore the temptation for easy disposal by pouring it down a drain should be minimized by the provision of community service points, say at vehicle breaker’s yards. The supporting costs to local councils would be minimal. Provision of such service points might eliminate the dangerous practice of dumping highlighted by The Automobile Association who claims that thousands of litres of unwanted vehicle fuel are poured into England’s drains!