Oil Tanks in Vancouver
Up until the 1960s, most Vancouver homes were heated by oil in underground storage tanks buried in yards. Once oil gave way to more modern heating methods, many homeowners replaced their oil burning furnaces with natural gas ones, rendering their underground oil tanks useless.
At this point, oil tanks were either completely removed from properties or decommissioned, where they were drained, filled with sand, capped, and left buried and forgotten. Unfortunately, many of these oil tanks weren’t drained properly, and over time, corrosion and rust caused them to leak.
Over sixty years later, leaky underground oil tanks present a real risk for those looking to buy or sell property in Vancouver.
What’s the risk?
The City of Vancouver states that if discovered, an underground oil tank must be removed immediately. If leaking, underground oil tanks can contaminate water and soil on your property, and also contaminate surrounding properties as well, harming the environment.
Oil tanks also pose a major fire and explosive hazard. In fact, the BC Fire Code also mandates that homeowners must remove an underground oil tank if one is discovered on their property. An underground oil tank on your property will also prevent you from being able to obtain insurance. Without insurance, getting approved for a mortgage can be difficult.
What can you do to protect yourself?
As a prospective buyer, it’s important that you do your due diligence in determining if there is an underground oil tank present on your property. Doing so will be sure to save you money in the long run, and will help minimize any environmental or safety risks. Before purchasing, make sure that you:
– Make your offer to purchase subject to inspection by an oil tank locator who can confirm that there is no oil tank or contamination on the property
– If a tank is located, include a condition in your offer that states that the tank must be removed by a licensed tank removal company in accordance with all laws and regulations, and that written verification is provided to the fire authority.
– Obtain a copy of the Property Disclosure Statement, which confirms that there is no oil tank or contamination on the property. If the oil tank wasn’t properly removed, then the seller could be held liable.
While the costs associated with removing oil tanks can be quite high, it’s important that buyers do their due diligence prior to purchasing a new home.
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