Snow and ice may damage home heating oil tanks (09/03/05)

NB 274

March 5, 2009

FREDERICTON (CNB) - New Brunswickers who own home heating oil tanks on their properties should remove excessive snow and ice from them, said Environment Minister Roland Haché.

Large amounts of snow and ice on tanks, or snow sliding from roofs, may damage tanks and fuel lines and cause spills that may harm people, animals and the environment.

"It is in the landowner's best interest to keep his or her tank clear of snow and ice," said Haché. "In the event of a spill, the landowner is responsible for the expensive task of removing any contaminated soil and remediating any contaminated groundwater. Landowners must protect themselves and the environment against these unfortunate situations. I encourage all homeowners to take the time to clear the snow and ice from their tanks."

During 2008, the Department of Environment recorded more than 100 incidents from landowners associated with petroleum spills on their properties.

Fuel oil spills in residential areas may contaminate drinking water wells, ground water, and soil; foul septic systems, requiring their replacement; cause odours and health problems in the home; and contaminate storm water drains, sewers, drainage ditches and surface water.

Depending on the location of the spill (near a river, sewage system and / or well water), cleanup may cost $5,000 to $10,000 or more.

It is recommended that system owners and / or landowners have adequate insurance coverage in case a spill happens.

Homeowners are liable under the Clean Environment Act for the cleanup of spills from home heating oil tanks on their properties.

In the event of a spill, the Department of Environment will provide guidance for the cleanup. Residents are advised to call immediately the nearest Department of Environment regional office (see the blue pages - Province of New Brunswick). For after-hours spill reporting, calls should be directed to the Canadian Coast Guard, 1-800-565-1633.

More information on the proper maintenance of oil tanks may be found online.


MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Graham, public affairs, Department of Environment, 506-453-3700.