Many homes built between the 1920s and 1960s used oil as a heating fuel, with oil tanks buried close to houses. Few homes use oil now, and homeowners may not realize that they have an old tank on their property. Tanks have an average life of 20 to 25 years, after which they can begin to leak hazardous materials. It is recommended that tanks be removed. Decommissioning is only for those tanks situated in an area which would endanger the structural integrity of nearby buildings or other facilities.
New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services offers the following advice for homeowners regarding the removal or decommissioning of underground oil storage tanks:
1. Ways to Find your Tank
- Look for visual signs of a tank's presence such as cast iron piping coming from the ground.
- Hire an Oil Tank Contractor to search for the presence of an oil tank using a metal detector.
- Contact New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services for information from their property database. Note that the database information may or may not be complete and does not include site plans.
2. Hire a Registered Professional Engineer and an Oil Tank Contractor
- We cannot recommend a specific contractor or Registered Professional Engineer to perform the work. Please look to your Yellow Pages for this information. We would recommend you obtain at least three separate quotes and ask for references. Ensure the company you select has a business license to operate in the City of New Westminster, has WorkSafe BC coverage and has obtained the necessary Permit from the Fire Department.
3. Possible Contamination
- If, when the tank is unearthed, there is soil contamination found, the Registered Professional Engineer will coordinate with the tank contractor and the Ministry of Environment for a cleanup plan.
4. Final Report
- Your Registered Professional Engineer and contractor will submit a final report, with pictures, to New Westminster Fire and Rescue for storage in the property's database.
For further information, please call the Fire Prevention Division at