View Royal Coun. John Rogers stands next to an unearthed home heating oil tank. As a way to prevent environmental disasters, he is lobbying for a provincial registration system and mandatory inspection for all above-ground tanks, as well as a requirement to remove any underground tanks not used for a prescribed period of time. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

View Royal Coun. John Rogers stands next to an unearthed home heating oil tank. As a way to prevent environmental disasters, he is lobbying for a provincial registration system and mandatory inspection for all above-ground tanks, as well as a requirement to remove any underground tanks not used for a prescribed period of time. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Efforts to regulate Greater Victoria home heating oil tanks continues

View Royal councillor part of movement to identify old tanks, prevent catastrophic leaks

The existence of home heating oil tanks, either below ground or on the surface, continues to be a concern for some residents.

While View Royal Coun. John Rogers acknowledges oil-burning heating is not going away anytime soon, he hopes to lessen the risk of ecological damage from external leaks locally and around B.C.

Last month, his motion to the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ annual meeting, calling on the province to legislate changes to enhance oil tanks’ safety and security, was tabled for later discussion.

“The regulations are the province’s purview, and if the province were to take this on, every municipality would receive the benefit,” Rogers said.

The motion called on the province to legislate mandatory registration and tagging of home heating oil tanks – much like propane tanks – as being in good condition, and prohibit the filling of untagged tanks; create a mandatory inspection system including authorized inspector access; place liability on fuel delivery companies for spills from tanks they fill and require those companies to carry related insurance; add a surcharge on heating oil fuel sales to cover any public clean up costs associated to leakage from properties where the owner has self-identified as having a heating oil tank, and require proper decommissioning of tanks that no longer meet certification or are unused for a prescribed time.

RELATED STORY: Pair ordered to pay more than $50,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling Victoria home

Ensuring one’s home heating oil tank is safe, secure and in good operating condition is the homeowner’s responsibility. That said, some local fuel suppliers regularly inspect oil tanks for signs of damage or leakage.

“Our drivers visually inspect the tanks, and if there are problems, we don’t come back until the tank is replaced,” Mia Simmons, office manager with Victoria Coal and Heating, said. “If it’s questionable, they take a picture and send it to me, and I get hold of the owner [to let them know].”

For some time, insurance companies have required homeowners to move oil tanks outdoors, as well as ensuring their tank meets B.C. fire and building code standards for construction and maximum age.

The Capital Regional District has a guide for homeowners to help protect the environment and prevent disasters. It offers tips on what to look for, new standards, and what to do in an emergency.

Saanich has dealt with multiple contaminations of Colquitz Creek due to fuel oil leaks. Since 2012, its crews have responded to reports of six buried oil tanks that failed, four copper lines leaking (running from the tank to the furnace) and 12 above ground tanks leaking.

“We do know that there can be severe problems when tanks have been unknowingly left in the ground,” Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said. “For new homeowners, it has caused severe hardship and environmental damage. Buried tanks are a continuing concern in Saanich we seem to have a fairly robust approach to that.”

RELATED STORY: Saanich aims to help homeowners dump their oil tanks for heat pumps

Such incidents, and a general movement toward taking direct action to address climate change, are among the reasons Saanich is encouraging homeowners on oil to switch to cleaner, more efficient home heating options.

Saanich is touting various rebates and incentives for switching from oil to a heat pump system, including $6,700 toward the heat pump and up to $1,000 toward upgrading your electrical service, plus a group purchase rebate of $500 when homeowners band together to make purchases.

The CRD, Saanich, Victoria, Esquimalt and Central Saanich, with the help of City Green, are also providing supports for home and building owners to make their buildings more climate-friendly through bringithome4climate.ca.

While Simmons said the oil tank industry has “turned around” in recent years by offering many options and 30-year tank guarantees, she said the idea of tagging and registering tanks could be a good one.

Rogers plans to provide the UBCM executive with further details around his motion in hopes that it may make it onto next year’s recommended list.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Environment

Just Posted

Island Health’s acting medical health officer for the central Island says schools are very safe, even after COVID-19 exposure at five schools in Nanaimo-Ladysmith this month. (File photo)
Island Health: Vancouver Island schools are ‘very safe’

Central Island medical health officer answers questions on the heels of recent school exposures

A photograph from July 25, where the Straitwatch team and DFO were out along the eastern shoreline of Vancouver Island to attend to a humpback whale that was reported entangled . (Photo courtesy, Cetus Research and Conservation Society)
Islander launches campaign to help entangled whales

Tristan Ray-Wilks from Quadra Island wants to be “response ready” for humpbacks in distress

In the first nine months of 2020, there have been 23 drug toxicity deaths in North Vancouver Island. Pixabay photo
Vancouver Island’s drug overdose emergency far from over

COVID-19 has exacerbated drug toxicity death rate

Bert Hick of Rising Tide Consultants, specializing in liquor licensing, addresses city council on Nov. 19, 2019. (City of Chilliwack)
Opinion: Your council has a tougher job than you give it credit for

Councillors work hard and for a capricious master

B.C. Special Olympics athlete, Jake Hooper, and his sister Caitlin are concerned about the impact COVID-19 is having on people with intellectual disabilities. (Courtesy of Caitlin Hooper)
Pandemic raises stakes for B.C. residents with intellectual disabilities

Untrained health care workers can jeopardize lives of people with ID

Numuch Keitlah, left, and Jake Thomas, centre, participate in a Coastal Nations search and rescue exercise off the coast of Vancouver Island in this undated handout photo. The recently operational Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary has more than 50 members from five Indigenous territories who are trained in marine search and rescue. They are on call day and night to respond to emergencies along some of B.C.’s most rugged and remote coastal areas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Jordan Wilson *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Canada’s first Indigenous-led coast guard auxiliary patrols B.C.’s rugged coast

Auxiliary is part of the feds’ $1.5 billion plan to improve marine safety and protect the environment

This Union Bay beach area shows iron staining at low tide from March 2010. Photo, JET Productions
Commercial marina again proposed for Union Bay

A previous proposal was denied due to sediment contamination

A rendering of Victoria Wonderland, a drive-thru immersive holiday experience coming to the Breakwater District at Ogden Point. (Courtesy of Transcend Victoria)
Immersive, drive-thru holiday light show coming to Victoria

‘Victoria Wonderland’ runs from Dec. 7 to Dec. 31

Juliette Desvaux, left, and gym owner Meaghan Orcutt share a joke during a break in a workout session. (Submitted photo)
Parksville sprinter finds much-needed community support during COVID-19 pandemic

Local gym, former coaches lend a hand with Desvaux’s athletic endeavours

I-Hos Gallery manager Ramona Johnson shows some of the paddles available at the retail outlet. Photo by Terry Farrell
I-Hos Gallery celebrates 25 years of promoting First Nation artwork

K’ómoks First Nation-based outlet has art from all over the country

An Oceana Canada audit of Canadian fish stocks reveals a growing number with critical populations, calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to enact existing commitments. (File photo)
B.C.’s declining fisheries the result of poor DFO management: audit

Oceana Canada calls for follow through on government commitments

Most Read