ABANDONED, UNDERGROUND FUEL STORAGE TANKS
Section 5 of The Fuel Oil Code (Ontario Regulation 329) in the Energy Act states the following:
Where an underground tank will not be used, or where it has not been used for two years, whichever comes first, the owner of the tank shall:
a) remove and product from the tank and connected piping.
b) remove the tank from the ground, and
i) remove the piping from the ground, or ii)purge the piping of combustible vapours and permanently seal the ends of the piping by capping or plugging.
c) where the soil around the tank is contaminated with oil from the tank, remove such contaminated soil, and
d) fill any cavities caused by removal of the tank to grade level with clean fill, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 329,s.5.
RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION.
- It is impossible to be 100% sure that any underground tank exists by a visual inspection. To be absolutely sure, a test dig or metal detection may be required.
- If indeed there is an underground tank, it must be removed. The costs for removal can rarely be determined up front.
- Standard environmental assessment protocols require the surrounding soil to be analyzed for contamination. The soil analysis must be performed by a Professional Engineer.
- If the soil sample was negative (no soil contamination) the owner has fulfilled their obligations. The engineering report becomes a very important document in the sale. There is no further risk to be considered by any other party in the real estate transaction. HOWEVER, if the soil is contaminated, the soil must be removed.
- All contaminated soil must be removed or remediated under strict environmental guidelines and under the direct supervision of a Professional Engineer.
- The cost for Tank removal and/or soil contamination remediation can rarely be determined at the initial stages.
Underground fuel storage tanks currently in use.
Oil heating is still quite common in rural areas. Fuel storage tanks can be installed in the basement or stored underground. Although there is no legislation banning such use, the buyer of a property must be warned of the following:
- The removal of the underground tank may eventually be required.
- Some insurance companies may want the oil tank to be converted to an above-grade or in-house storage tank.