Buried Oil Tanks
A buried oil tank can be concealed by heavy landscaping. Buried ferrous-metal oil tanks are commonly found on older properties whose home and/or domestic water supply is heated by oil. As with all underground items, a buried oil tank is not within the scope of a visual home inspection. The presence of a buried oil tank can usually be determined by finding the fill and vent pipes that extend above ground. Abandoned and very old buried ferrous-metal oil tanks are an environmental hazard.
Once free from the tank, petroleum will sink through unsaturated soil and enter the water table. There, much of the chemical will vaporize and eventually bubble up through the ground’s surface. In addition to the risks posed by other petroleum products, leaked gasoline presents the risk of fire and explosion, especially if the fumes collect inside homes and other buildings. Any petroleum-contaminated water that is ingested or used to bathe is potentially deadly. A tank is capable of leaking chemicals for many years, since the corrosion process is typically slow.
If there is a buried tank on your property, the soil around it should be tested by a qualified environmental professional for the presence of oil seepage. If leaking has occurred, the tank and all contaminated soil around it must be removed. A tank that shows leakage must be removed from the ground or filled with a chemically inert solid, such as sand. Groundwater contaminants too must be removed by pumping air through the water, which causes volatile petroleum compounds to vaporize and biodegrade naturally.
If leaking has not occurred, it may still be a potential problem. Even if a tank is empty, it still may have residual oil in the bottom that is a pollutant. Consult with a specialist about the best option for dealing with an underground tank on your property.
Storage tank regulation in Canada.
Permanent withdrawal from service
Per section 44 of the regulations, you must keep a record of the date on which the permanent withdrawal of the storage tank system took place and a record (for example, an invoice) showing that the withdrawal was carried out by an approved person or supervised by a professional engineer, as applicable.
Additional requirements to ensure exists and can be found in the link below.
The regulations require that you remove storage tank systems and their components if you permanently withdraw them from service. The requirements for removal depend on the tank type:
– for underground and shop-fabricated aboveground tanks, remove all tanks, piping and components
– for field-erected aboveground tanks, remove all piping and components outside the tanks. The tanks themselves may remain in place
Compulsory withdrawal and removal
The following pose a risk to the environment and any such existing installations should have been permanently withdrawn from service and removed by now:
– single-walled underground tanks or piping without leak detection and cathodic protection (that is, protection against corrosion)
– aboveground tanks installed underground and underground tanks installed aboveground
– partially buried tanks
It is important to know that the property owner is responsible for underground tank removal, soil testing and cleanup where contamination has occurred.
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