Peter Colls


What To Do If You Have An Underground or Above-Ground Heating Oil Storage Tank

Many homes built before 1970 were heated using oil that was stored in an underground or above-ground OST.When
homes were later converted to natural gas or electricity, underground tanks were not usually removed from the property; instead, the tal)ks were commonly left in place, filled with sand and capped. OSTs that remain buried may have rusted and corroded. If oil remained in the tank, leaking of that remaining oil could cause (or may already have caused) contamination of the property and adjacent properties.


Because of the potential environmental concern, oil tanks can expose sellers and buyers to significant financial loss and liability.  If the presence of an OST is either known or suspected, both buyers and sellers should be advised to seek the advice of an environmental professional, as well as legal advice about their obligations and potential liabilities.

The first thing to do is to consult a reputable Oil Tank Removal Specialist. I have a whole web page of specialists that I have personaly worked with and would recommend. If you have any questions about who to hire, dont heasitate to call me at 604-220-2269, or email me at . 

What to do if an OST does exist


Where it has been determined that an OST does exist, licensees and their clients should be aware of BC Fire Code provisions for the decommissioning of an underground OST that require the use of good engineering practices when removing, abandoning in place, or temporarily taking out of service, an underground OST. Additionally, licensees should refer their clients to the BC Ministry of Environment Fact Sheet entitled Residential Heating Oil Storage Tanks, which sets out concise and valuable information and advice. This Fact Sheet, and other useful information and links, can be found at the Ministry of Environment's website at 


Further, I as your Realtor must ensure that we enquire at your local government (city/municipall district/regional) office as to any bylaws, restrictions or permit requirements concerning unused or abandoned OSTs, as local governments have differing requirements and provisions for enforcing the removal or abandonment of underground or above-ground OSTs (usually administered by the local fire department). This is particularly fmportant in areas where underground or above-ground storage tank removal enforcement is a priority, for instance in Greater Vancouver.


Lending institutions and insurers should also be consulted as they may also have corporate policy regarding underground or above-ground OSTs.

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