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Life in New England
An Oil Tank
for the 21st Century
by David McCaskill

How old is your oil tank --15 or 25 years?  Older than that?  Our experience is
that no one ponders the state of a residential oil tank until there is a basement
full of oil due to a leak.

Traditionally home heating oil tanks have been constructed of steel, which is
structurally sound but can rust and leak.  According to a DEP study, 11% of
releases from home heating oil tanks are from internal corrosion due to water
and sludge building up in the bottom of the tank.  In fact, just the other day, a
family had to be evacuated from their home due to unhealthy levels of oil
vapors resulting from 120 gallons of heating oil that leaked from a corrosion hole
in their tank.  Thankfully, measures were taken so they were able to move back
in their home in time to open presents.

What if there were a 21st century oil tank that didn't rust out?

In Europe they have been using
polyethylene tanks for years to safely store
home heating oil, and now this technology has landed here on our shores.

The advantages of these tanks are many.  The tank will not rust out, and the oil is
drawn out the top of the tank so there are no bottom fittings that can be
damaged.  Plus, this tank is really two tanks in one.  The inner plastic tank is
surrounded by a galvanized steel outer jacket that will contain any spills and
provides for fire protection.  If there is a leak there is a pop-up indicator that
alerts you that there is oil in the containment shell.  This outer shell provides
what is called "secondary containment."

These tanks do cost more -- sometimes up to 3 times more, but protecting
against the inconvenience, expense and downright mess of a spill in the cellar is
an investment to strongly consider.

If you are building a new house or replacing your heating system, then the
added cost of these tanks can be more easily amortized.    

For more information on these tanks see our website page on
Above Ground Oil
Tanks or call your licensed oil burner technician.

Also, these tanks are U.L. listed for outside use as well and may be the answer to
fuel oil storage in sensitive areas such as lake-side homes or if a drinking water
well is close by.

So something to consider if you have an aging tank is the purchase of one of
these 21st century rust proof containment tanks.

About the Author: David McCaskill is an Environmental Engineer with the
Maine DEP's Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management.
New Oil Tanks
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