Home Oil Tank Spills: Are you Prepared to Pay the Bill?
Oil is used for home heating in some parts of Canada, but predominantly in Atlantic Canada. Forty-two percent of all Atlantic Canadian homes have an oil tank and, therefore, a potential environmental hazard.
Leaks and spills from home-heating oil tanks are dangerous and costly. One litre of leaked oil can contaminate one million litres of drinking water. The clean-up costs related to oil spills average $250,000 - $500,000 (but the costs can be, and often are, much higher than that) and can include everything from replacing the tanks and supply lines and removing contaminated soil around your home to replacing your home's foundation.
If there is a spill or leak of oil from your property, you could be entirely responsible for all these costs. No one needs that expense or hassle. Check with your insurance representative to find out about your coverage.
As a property owner, the oil tank and its maintenance are your responsibility. They belong to you – not the oil company. Here are things you should know about the proper storage of home-heating oil and the maintenance of the storage tanks. Remember: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Buying an oil tank
There are many oil tanks on the market today. How long any tank will last depends on many factors, including:
Home oil tanks generally hold about 1,000 litres and can come with plastic liners to help reduce internal corrosion, and with valves for draining water. Some tanks automatically prevent the accumulation of water by allowing condensation to be drawn off with oil entering the furnace.
Some features to look for when buying a new tank are:
NEVER buy a used tank. It's almost impossible to know what you're buying.
Installing an oil tank
The tank should be installed:
Never transfer oil from an old to a new tank; it could contaminate the new tank with water-laden sludge.
Maintaining an oil tank
In the winter ...
The winter presents unique stresses and strains for oil tanks. Here are steps you can take to help protect your tank:
Oil tanks and your home insurance policy
Each home is unique and so is every home insurance policy. A typical home insurance policy usually does not cover the loss or damage to your property resulting from an oil spill. However, the liability coverage provided by your home insurance policy may cover, up to the purchased monetary limit, the liability you incur when an unintentional oil spill on your property contaminates your neighbour’s property. Intentional acts will not be covered under home insurance liability coverage.