The irresponsible handling of oil tanks can lead to many problems ranging from toxic fumes, polluted water, and the compromise of fragile ecosystems. There’s no excuse not to take the utmost possible care. New Jersey laws have tightened up to ensure we’re all safer.
Things can get chilly here in New Jersey. It’s no wonder that so many homes use underground storage tanks to contain heating oil. Despite being a common measure, the potential public and ecological dangers of these storage tanks went unregulated for years. This saw our state making the wrong kind of headlines.
Thankfully, things have changed for the better in recent years and New Jersey is now more responsible in handling this old problem.
What makes the oil so dangerous?
Heating oil is a petroleum-based product that’s refined from crude oil and contains substances such as benzene which are known carcinogens. This puts a lot of us here in the Northeast at potential risk, since those states make up most of the 5.7 million American homes using oil for water heating, furnaces, and boilers. In 2017, 3 billion gallons of heating oil were sold. The residential Northeast consumed 85 percent of that … and we haven’t even factored in commercial use yet.
Underground tanks that are unmonitored, left to decay, or damaged by contractors, expose humans and the world around us to many risks. Vapor hazards can cause nausea, kidney and liver damage, breathing difficulties, and increased blood pressure. Animals and the environment can suffer by surface/sub-surface soil contamination, groundwater pollution, property damage, and the death of local wildlife.
Last year, New Jersey implemented rules designed to make public and professionals alike more aware and accountable with heating tank management.
How our oil tank laws got an upgrade
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) proposed a new, more eco-friendly set of rules for handling heating oil tanks in 2017. Their Heating Oil Tank System (HOTS) remediation Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:26F) came into effect in 2018 and applied to unregulated residential oil heating tanks both under and above ground, as well as commercial tanks up to 2,000 gallons.
The rules called for owners to be strict and responsible with the maintenance of their oil tanks. The owner must immediately contact the NJDEP to report any oil leak. They then have 48 hours to employ a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) who can gauge the extent of the damage. Leaks less than 100 gallons can be handled with the help of local authorities, particularly if they haven’t significantly compromised surrounding ground/surface water or soil.
Owners have 60 days maximum to ensure the problem is fixed. Failure to comply with NJEDP regulations could lead to fines and fees for homeowners, business owners, and contractors alike. How can we minimize the chances of a leak going that far?
Some tips on identifying a heating oil leak
Like diesel, heating oil is a distillate but unlike diesel, heating oil is dyed a pink or red color. This was a measure imposed by the Internal Revenue Service (and not the Environmental Protection Agency as you might assume). Heating oil’s color marks it as exempt from local, federal, and state taxes, as well as letting users know it’s illegal to use as a standard roadway fuel. Other tell-tale signs include:
- Buckling or rust in your tank’s legs (oil tanks weigh a lot and need strong support or else they’ll give out and tip the contents)
- Dripping from any part of the tank or rusty spots on the tank’s exterior
- Debris or blockages around your oil lines such as dirt, snow, or insect activity
- Dead or damaged vegetation if your tank is above ground
If your tank seems fine and you’re thinking of contracting work on your property, you need a licensed, eco-conscious contracting firm to make sure you have zero oil tank issues as the job is done.
Mikula’s care and credentials for environmentally-conscious work
The professionalism and eco-credentials of a contracting firm make the difference between being fine and being fined. Many contactors may be lax with their licenses and slow to cooperate with the authorities if an oil tank issue arises. This costs owners time and money.
Mikula Contracting takes care to avoid these issues. If oil tank problems are unavoidable, you can be sure we comply fully and promptly with environmental agencies to reach a swift solution. We can help you whether you’re a homeowner/buyer or an estate agent with oil tank scanning and residential tank removal services.
We provide peace of mind since we are fully insured and certified throughout the state of New Jersey. Our licenses and certifications include NJ Department of Environmental Protection License, NJ Home Improvement Contractors License 13VH00769700, Underground Storage Tank Certified Closure Contractor, and OSHA certification for every member of our team.
Get in touch with us for a free estimate and to learn more about how the best professionals handle an oil tank.
Mikula Contracting, Inc. provides commercial and residential customers with a wide range of excavation, demolition, environmental, snow removal, trucking, and soil materials services. For more information, call 973-772-1684 or email firstname.lastname@example.org