An underground or above ground fuel oil storage tank designed to hold heating fuel for furnaces can become a risk if it begins to leak. Nearly all storage tanks will eventually corrode. If your fuel oil tank has been in the ground for over 10 years, it could be leaking. Therefore, diligent tank maintenance and careful monitoring is critical.
Following are signs of a leaking tank: • Visible signs of corrosion, especially where the pipe meets the tank body
• Stains on the walls and floors adjacent to the tank
• Vapors from the furnace
• Oily residue in nearby culverts, drainage areas, streams or lawns
• Dead vegetation in the area
• Oily taste in well-water that is contaminated
Before hiring a qualified specialist to install or remove a tank, check the contractor’s references, request an estimate in advance, confirm that the contractor carries liability insurance, and that he/she is filing documentation with the state’s environmental services department.
If you have a tank that is not in use, properly and legally dispose of it. To avoid any future liabilities, hire a qualified specialist to destroy the tank structure. Contact the local or state department of environmental services for guidance. Removal involves emptying the tank, mitigating any fire hazards, and safely extracting it for recycling or disposal. State and federal regulations must also be followed with respect to contaminated soil, surface water and groundwater.
If your fuel storage tank contaminates groundwater or causes damages, you may be held liable for cleanup costs. Consider insurance coverage options:
• Fuel Oil Distributor Coverage: Your fuel oil service provider may offer insurance that can protect you from expensive damages.
• Personal or Commercial Policies: You may have the option, in some states, to purchase additional coverage for fuel pollution or liability. Your independent agent can assist you in determining options.