Oil Tanks

Does Your Property Have an Oil Storage Tank?

Many homes built between the 1920s and 1960s used oil as a heating fuel, with oil tanks buried close to the foundation of a home. Few homes use oil now, and home owners 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.

Signs that you may have an underground tank include:

  • A filler pipe sticking out of the ground;
  • A vent pipe at the side of the house;
  • A metal pipe cap close to the front or back yard;
  • A sunken area on your lawn.

Oil floats on water, so every time it rains the oil makes its way to the surface causing a rainbow sheen. This can cause cross contamination, leak into a neighbour’s property, or into a creek, killing fish. A single pinhole leak in a 1,000 gallon fuel storage tank can leak its contents into the environment in less than eight hours contaminating property, groundwater, streams, neighbouring properties and injuring wildlife.

Fire department fuel/oil tank records are gathered from different sources and are for convenience only and should not be relied on for any purchase decision for any property. Unless New Westminster Fire & Rescue Services is in possession of all required documentation, we cannot confirm the status of the Fuel/Oil Tank. The City of New Westminster assumes no liability for soil conditions on the property due to fuel storage tank leakage.

What to do next?

We recommend contracting the services of a professional Oil Tank Contractor to survey the property to verify or negate the existence of an oil tank. If a fuel storage tank is located, a permit is required from New Westminster Fire & Rescue Services to remove or decommission the tank.

Notice to Property Owners

New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services is not responsible for and will not interpret environmental results contained in a report from a Registered Professional Environmental Consultant. In addition, the New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services is not responsible for nor will interpret results from metal detection scans performed by an Oil Tank Contractor.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us at or 604-519-1000.

The following information will assist you in dealing with a fuel storage tank on your property.

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