Oil/Water Separator

A Range of Fuel/Oil Separators for Peace of Mind

Note that throughout this section the term ‘separator’ is used instead of the term ’interceptor’.

Surface water drains normally discharge to a watercourse or indirectly into underground waters (groundwater) via a soakaway. Contamination of surface water by oil, chemicals or suspended solids can cause these discharges to have a serious impact on the receiving water.

Oil separators are installed on surface water drainage systems to protect receiving waters from pollution by oil, which may be present due to minor leaks from vehicles and plant, from accidental spillage or due to deliberate and illegal tipping into drains.

The Environment Regulators, Environment Agency, England and Wales, SEPA, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency in Scotland and Department of Environment & Heritage in Northern Ireland, have published guidance on surface water disposal, which offers a range of means of dealing with pollution both at source and at the point of discharge from site (so called ‘end of pipe’ treatment). These techniques are known as ‘Sustainable Drainage Systems’ (SuDS).

Where run-off is draining from relatively low risk areas such as car-parks and non-operational areas, a source control approach, such as permeable surfaces or infiltration trenches, may offer a suitable means of treatment, removing the need for a separator.

Oil separators are installed on surface water drainage systems to protect receiving waters from pollution by oil, which may be present due to minor leaks from vehicles and plant, from accidental spillage.

Effluent from industrial processes and vehicle washing should normally be discharged to the foul sewer (subject to the approval of the sewerage undertaker) for further treatment at a municipal treatment works.

Separator Standards and Types

A British (and European) standard (BS EN 858-1 and 858-2) for the design and use of prefabricated oil separators has been adopted. New prefabricated separators should comply with the standard.

Separator Classes

The standard refers to two ‘classes’ of separator, based on performance under standard test conditions.

Class I

Designed to achieve a concentration of less than 5mg/l of oil under standard test conditions, should be used when the separator is required to remove very small oil droplets.

Class II

Designed to achieve a concentration of less than 100mg/l oil under standard test conditions and are suitable for dealing with discharges where a lower quality requirement applies (for example where the effluent passes to foul sewer).

Both classes can be produced as full retention or bypass separators. The oil concentration limits of 5 mg/l and 100 mg/l are only applicable under standard test conditions. It should not be expected that separators will comply with these limits when operating under field conditions.

Full Retention Separators

Full retention separators treat the full flow that can be delivered by the drainage system, which is normally equivalent to the flow generated by a rainfall intensity of 65mm/hr.  On large sites, some short term flooding may be an acceptable means of limiting the flow rate and hence the size of full retention systems.

Bypass Separators

Bypass separators fully treat all flows generated by rainfall rates of up to 6.5mm/hr. This covers over 99% of all rainfall events. Flows above this rate are allowed to bypass the separator. These separators are used when it is considered an acceptable risk not to provide full treatment for high flows, for example where the risk of a large spillage and heavy rainfall occurring at the same time is small.

Forecourt Separators

Forecourt separators are full retention separators specified to retain on site the maximum spillage likely to occur on a petrol filling station. They are required for both safety and environmental reasons and will treat spillages occurring during vehicle refuelling and road tanker delivery. The size of the separator is increased in order to retain the possible loss of the contents of one compartment of a road tanker, which may be up to 7,600 litres.

Selecting the Right Separator

The chart on the following page gives guidance to aid selection of the appropriate type of fuel/oil separator for use in surface water drainage systems which discharge into rivers and soakaways.
(Chart still to come)


Download the Separator Brochure

Contact Us


03 544 4365 or 0508 425 742

16 Gladstone Road
Richmond, Nelson 7020

P.O.Box 3581,
Richmond, Nelson. 7050