Sound advice for oil heating tank owners

Letter to the editor on the prudent steps homeowners can take if they have oil heating tanks

There have been problems recently with leaks from residential heating oil storage tanks in Saanich.

Here is some information from the B.C. Ministry of Environment that may be useful.

On properties under provincial jurisdiction, all underground storage tanks, and above ground tanks over 2,500 litres are regulated under the B.C. Fire Code ( BCFC ).

A provision in the BCFC states that an owner is required to follow good engineering practices when removing, abandoning in place, or temporarily taking out of service a residential heating oil storage tank.

To avoid potential liability, prospective home buyers may wish to:

• Have the property inspected for fill pipes, vent pipes, feed tubes, etc.;

• Have purchasing offers subject to inspection by a building inspector and/or underground storage tank locator;

• Have an environmental consultant provide an estimate for removal, investigation and / or remediation and include this as a discount on the purchase price;

• Include the tank removal and remediation as a condition of sale.

Property owners may wish to:

• Have their property inspected, in order to identify any oil tanks and to minimize the risk of leaks or spills;

• Retain a qualified environmental professional to investigate their property during the removal of a heating oil tank and have the professional prepare a report indicating that the property meets ministry standards via ministry endorsed methods.

If your heating oil tank has leaked, you should take immediate action to stop the leak, and clean up the affected area. The BCFC requires a property owner to take all reasonable steps to recover escaped flammable or combustible liquids and to remove or treat contaminated soil located on the property. If the tank is unused or abandoned, any remaining heating oil should be removed by a qualified contractor and taken to an approved facility for disposal.

Paul Gerrard

Saanich councillor

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