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Cleaning up an oil storage tank leak:
Here we give some first-response suggestions for indoor or outdoor heating oil storage tank leaks. Professional cleanup assistance will be required for underground oil storage tank leaks or spills but even for those tanks, following the suggestions here can reduce the spill size, help contain it and can reduce the ultimate cleanup costs for the oil spill.
This article series includes storage tank leak or oil spill cleanup companies who handle abandonment or leak cleanup for buried oil tanks as well as for above ground oil storage tanks.
If the leak is in oil supply piping to the oil burner, turn off the oil supply line at the oil tank or for a buried oil tank, turn off the oil safety valve or shutoff valve where the oil piping enters the building.
If the leak is in an above-ground oil storage tank it may be possible to temporarily stop a pinhole leak using a special plumbing screw and neoprene washer but be careful: poking around at a thin rusted oil tank can, if you're not careful, make a hole larger and the leak worse.
If the leak is in a buried oil storage tank you may be able to reduce the total leakage and thus reduce the environmental damage and thus reduce the ultimate cost of the oil spill cleanup by having the oil tank pumped out by your oil company.
Next Report the oil leak or spill
Report the oil leak or spill as required by regulations that apply depending on where you live. You can find the appropriate reporting or emergency contact information from your heating oil supplier, from your local building department, or from your local, state, or provincial department of environmental protection. Reporting oil spills or leaks within 24 hours is required by law in most jurisdictions.
Contact your heating oil delivery company for advice; do not continue to deliver oil to a leaking oil storage tank. It may be necessary to seal the oil delivery pipe, cap it, and place a DO NOT DELIVER OIL sign conspicuously on the oil delivery pipe and vent pipe as we have indeed had reports of oil deliveries to leaking, abandoned, and even disconnected oil filler pipes.
Soak up Spilled Heating Oil Indoors
For small heating oil spills use cat litter or bentonite clay to absorb liquid heating oil spills.
Larger indoor heating oil spills may require emergency or makeshift damming to try to contain the spill area using anything at hand: towels, sandbags, hoses, rags.
Your heating oil company will be able to provide additional cleaners and deodorants that can help reduce the odors from an indoor oil spill.
Environmental Issues & Regulations for Oil Tanks
In the U.S. and many other countries state DEP/DEC/DNR (Departments of Environmental Conservation or
similar agencies) have programs for registering buried tanks at any site storing (typically) more than 1100 gallons of heating oil. Requirements for gas (auto
fuel), or other fuels may be different.
Eventually this concern may spread to smaller residential tanks. The concern is for leaks which contaminate
the environment. Tanks located where they may leak into a local waterway or into the water supply are a special environmental concerns. (C)trap DJ Friedman.
The directory shown below lists companies specializing in the cleanup of oil leaks & spills, with focus on residential
and light commercial properties, though some of these companies may also address large-scale above
oil spills on land or at sea.
Environmental and Information Resources, Inc. markets
a low cost way of cleaning up petroleum hydrocarbon releases called
bioremediation using naturally occurring soil microbes. EIR also performs biologically based cleanups of inorganic contamination such as heavy metals and radio nuclides using
phytoremediation to uptake contamination from soil or groundwater.
Government Contacts - Contact the DEC/DEP/DNR office in your state
A separate directory of companies specializing in locating, testing, and removing or abandoning above ground or buried oil storage tanks is at TESTING COs.
Qualified service providers may be listed at this website at no fee. Listing submissions welcome, there is no listing fee. Contact Us.
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OIL TANK REGULATIONS U.S. State and Federal environmental regulations regarding oil leak reporting, oil and other storage tank registration, oil tank abandonment, tank removal, tank testing, and other
storage tanks, U.S. state regulations, and regulations in other countries are discussed in detail at this link where we also give contact information for various federal and state agencies.
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"How do you choose the right tank testing method?", Cynthia Johnson, Fuel Oil & Oil Heat Magazine, November 1995
National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers, PO Box 380, Elmwood Park, NJ 07407
"Homeowners Guide to Fuel Storage," Agway Energy Products, Verbank, NY, November 1990
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