Trading standards blitz on fuel danger

A BLITZ on Suffolk petrol stations discovered almost seven out of ten are allowing fuel to be sold in potentially dangerous containers, it emerged today.

A BLITZ on Suffolk petrol stations discovered almost seven out of ten are allowing fuel to be sold in potentially dangerous containers, it emerged today.

Some of the garages involved face prosecution after being snared in a trading standards covert operation for the second time in a year.

Petrol stations across the county are now being contacted by Suffolk's trading standards officers warning them of the dangers of selling fuel illegally.

A spokesman for Suffolk's trading standards department said: "The spot checks showed up alarming lapses in safety, with almost 70 per cent selling petrol in unapproved containers. This practice is both against the law and is dangerous.

"At this time of year many people buy petrol to fill up their lawnmowers. These customers may, unwittingly, be using unsafe and illegal containers."

Petroleum inspectors carried out the checks following up a similar crackdown

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last year.

This time 38 garages were visited. Twenty-two (69 per cent) allowed petrol to be sold in an unapproved container.

Fourteen of the garages targeted were in the Ipswich area while there were 12 each around Bury and Lowestoft.

An undercover officer walked onto the forecourt carrying a cardboard container with a tin can inside. He then tried to buy petrol illegally from the most obvious pump - often the one right in front of the cashier.

At this point the cashier should have refused to authorise the delivery of petrol. However, at four of the garages pump attendants even filled the container themselves. Sixteen of the garages caught in the blitz were warned as to their future conduct.

Of these, seven sold petrol in illegal containers for the second year in succession and are likely to face legal action said the trading standards spokesman. The 16, which sold petrol illegally, will receive a written warning.

Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for public protection, Peter Monk, said: "These illegal breaches of safety could put the public in serious danger.

"At this time of year people are starting to think about filling up lawnmowers or getting boats ready for the spring and summer. It's likely that garages will be approached by members of the public trying to fill up old cans they've had in the shed for years. Our warning to garages is clear though: 'Your customer could just as easily be an undercover officer and you risk facing prosecution if you don't prevent the sale'.

"If you handle something as dangerous and volatile as petrol unsafely, you risk causing a fire and losing your home, or even your life."

Anyone unsure of the legal limits or correct containers for buying petrol should call the Trading Standards Advice Line on 01473 584358 for further information.

N Buying and Storing Petrol for Domestic Purposes.

The legal limit for domestic petrol storage is 20 litres. Petrol can be

stored in either approved plastic or metal containers marked with the words:

Petrol - Highly Flammable!

N What do you think should happen to garages who allow petrol to be sold in dangerous containers? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to or visit the forum at

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