Act now to prevent fuel oil leaks and spills

We enjoy our seasons in Anoka County and rise to the challenging conditions they bring.  Keeping our homes warm in winter is the first order of business.  For residents that  heat their homes (or businesses) with fuel oil, that should mean inspecting their tanks and piping to prevent leaks and spills.

More than 40 residential fuel oil spills and leaks occur each year in Minnesota, damaging homes and putting a dent in pocketbooks from cleanup costs and the loss of fuel.  “We see this happen every fall,” said Chris McLain, Petroleum Remediation Supervisor at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “The effects of a fuel oil spill can be devastating. We’ve seen fuel oil spilling into people’s basements, well water becoming undrinkable and homes even becoming unlivable ― and all of this is preventable.”

Fuel oil tanks need regular maintenance to prevent leaks from corrosion, improper installation, faulty piping, failing valves and from weather conditions, such as falling ice, snow packs or flooding.

“A simple survey each fall by homeowners, inspecting the condition of their tanks and piping, is all it would take to prevent many leaks from occurring,” McLain said. “Additionally, homeowners should contact their fuel oil supplier if their tanks are no longer in use, or their usage needs have changed, to prevent tank overfills or leaks from disconnected piping. Some fuel oil suppliers even offer tank and furnace inspection services to assist homeowners in identifying and addressing maintenance issues.

Cleaning up fuel oil spills can cost a homeowner thousands of dollars and years of their time. Don’t let this happen to you this winter. Inspect your tanks and piping, talk with your fuel oil supplier and be ready to heat your home safely.

If you discover a petroleum release from your tank, call the Minnesota Duty Officer at 800-422-0798 for immediate assistance to contain the pollution.

For more information see the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Underground Heating Oil Storage Tanks or Aboveground Heating Oil Storage Tank fact sheets.

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