In British Columbia homeowners with leaking oil tanks are responsible for the cost of cleaning contamination not only on their own property but all affected properties and waterways. The cost of cleanup can range from several thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Homeowners should be aware that the majority of home insurance policies will not cover damage caused by heating oil spills. Check your home heating oil tanks for leaks before refueling, and save yourself the stress and financial burden of oil contamination.
Below are some suggested measures to reduce your risk of a home heating oil spill:
Request a copy of the permit - Ask your contractor for documentation that the oil burning equipment and tank have been properly installed or removed, or ask the Esquimalt Fire Department for any records of inspection.
Check your home insurance policy – Contact your home insurance providers and ask if they offer coverage for pollution due to heating oil spills.
Have your tank serviced annually – Ask your fuel supplier to replace the oil filter and check for leaks from the tank, piping and lines to all oil burning equipment.
Conduct regular inspections – Check for oil smells or sheens around the tank, inspect the outside of your tank and the piping for rust or leaks, and watch your fuel invoices for any sudden increases, especially during warmer weather.
Get a spill kit – Purchase a spill kit at a safety supply store or—in the event of an emergency—try these household items to quickly contain any spills to minimize potential contamination: buckets, newspaper, kitty litter and absorbent pads.
Report spills – Call the Esquimalt Fire Department at 250-414-7126 and ask that they come out to assess the severity of the spill. If the spill enters municipal roads or waterways call Esquimalt Public Works (Office hours: 250-414-7108 or Emergency after hours: 250-995-7654). If you are unable to reach a municipal official, call Emergency Management BC at 1-800-663-3456. You must also notify your neighbour if the spill leaks onto their property.
Consider converting to an alternate energy source – When it comes time to replace your tank or oil burning equipment, consider converting to a heat pump or a natural gas system. Rebates of up to $1700 are available through the Oil to Heat Pump Incentive Program. Read the CRD information sheet here.
For more information, please call the Esquimalt Fire Department at 250-414-7126.
See also the CRD'S Homeowner’s Guide: Home Heating Oil Tanks