Heating Oil Spill Cleanup, Remediation, & Prevention
Heating Oil Spill Guide for Homes & Light-Commercial Buildings
OIL TANK SPILL CLEANUP / PREVENTION - CONTENTS: Heating oil tank or piping leak or spill prevention recommendations. Heating oil spill cleanup companies, resources, sources of oil spill cleanup and remediation supplies, companies, training, experts. Oil tank leak testing procedures, companies. Oil storage tank regulations pertaining to oil leak or oil spill reporting and cleanup
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Heating oil spill guide for homeowners:
This article describes an approach to prevention of above ground or buried oil tank leaks or leaks anywher in the heating oil tank and piping and burner system. We include lists oil spill cleanup and prevention experts, supplies, training resources, regulations, and technical information.
This oil tank leak and leak prevention article series answers nearly all questions about above ground or buried oil storage tanks including oil tank installation, abandonment, removal, leak testing, leak prevention, and regulations.
Proper installation, inspection, & maintenance of heating oil storage tanks, piping, valves, & controls are the key measures that can prevent both small leaks that lead to heating system operating troubles (or loss of heat or dangerous puffbacks) and larger leaks that lead to costly oil spill cleanup jobs. Here are links to greater depths on the key topics that should be part of a residential or commercial oil leak & spill prevention program:
BURIED OIL TANK (UST) GUIDE - proper installation of the oil tank, for purposes of spill or leak prevention means using the right kind of tank, locating it properly, avoiding damaging the oil tank during transport or installation, knowing soil conditions (soil chemistry can contribute to oil tank corrosion), and periodic tank inspections for water or other trouble signs. When there is a reason for extra concern, such as oil tank age, unknown condition, or discovery of loss of oil or water in oil, the tank should be tested.
See OIL TANK TEST ADVICE.
OIL TANK PIPING & PIPING DEFECTS describes oil piping, controls, valves, and equipment inspection & maintenance: as we noted, small leaks mean heating equipment operating problems or even loss of heat while a larger leak means an expensive cleanup job. Oil line safety and fire safety valves include features that can prevent a leak of heating oil from the oil piping, fittings, & controls between the oil tank and the oil burner.
See OIL LINE SAFETY VALVES, OSVs.
Indoor oil spills during tank fill or later from a leaky oil tank range from trivial
local cleanup and deodorizing efforts to very serious contamination problems if an oil tank bursts
during oil delivery (which we suspect is rare) and on occasions when an indoor oil tank has been
removed but someone (some fool) has left the oil filler pipe installed on the building, and when
subsequently an oil delivery is mistakenly made through the filler pipe onto the empty basement
or crawl space floor.
This may sound crazy but it actually happens.
At OIL TANK ABANDONING PROCEDURE we discuss steps a building owner should take to be darn sure that oil is not accidentally pumped into the building or into an abandoned oil tank.
Outdoor and buried oil tank oil spills occur due to a variety of causes.
In-Tank corrosion of oil storage tanks: Underground fuel or heating oil storage tanks usually fail from rust perforation due
to several effects of water inside the tank including, in the case of heating
oil, combination of water with sulphur in the fuel, bacterial action, and
External rust on oil tanks, unless very heavy, isn't highly correlated
with internal rust. Leaks can occur due to tank damage or at piping connections.
Oil Tanks in Corrosive Soils: Oil storage tank leaks are more likely if a steel tank has been buried in corrosive soil or
if the tank was damaged during installation, such as gouging it or bouncing it off of a rock
as it was placed into a hole for burying.
Oil Tank Piping Leaks: Oil tank leaks may occur at buried piping connections as well.
Delivery Oil Spills: occur around the tank fill pipe and range from trivial to more extensive
requiring soil removal and cleaning. These leaks are usually obvious at the ground surface around the
oil tank or tank filler.
Inadequate fill or vent pipe diameter is blamed by some for leaks at buried or above ground
oil tanks, asserting that because oil tanks are filled under pressure from the oil delivery pumper-truck,
a corroded, damaged, or poorly-plumbed oil storage tank, or one with a too-small vent opening, may not
withstand the pressure of the filling process.
TESTING COs / REMOVAL COs - Oil Tank Testing, Removal, Consulting Environmental Service Companies
and OIL TANK REMOVAL FINANCIAL AID links here or at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article to see our most current list of companies providing oil tank testing or oil tank
Environmental and Information Resources, Inc. markets
a low cost way of cleaning up petroleum hydrocarbon releases called bioremediation using naturally occurring soil microbes. EIR also performs biologically based cleanups of inorganic contamination such as heavy metals and radio nuclides using phytoremediation to uptake contamination from soil or groundwater.
Spill-911 company provides oil spill containment and prevention supplies - 800-474-5911 - how to prevent oil tank leaks and oil spills from spreading by using secondary containment. Oil Spill Containment items provide storage, secondary containment, protection and response to minimize the impact of leaks and spills. Poly and Steel Drums, Containment Berms and Spill Containment Decks and Spill Pallets.
The rate or frequency of oil tank leaks or oil storage tank failures, focused on underground storage tanks or USTs,
is discussed in detail at TANK FAILURE RATES provides Oil Tank Failure Data - Oil Tank Failure Rates
- Oil Tank Leak Probability as a Function of Tank Age, Location, Condition, Soil Conditions and Other Factors.
NIEHS - U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Standards
NIOSH - U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
OSHA - U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration
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Gulf Oil Spill Sent Crude Oil Fumes Ashore in Louisiana - Recommended articles on crude oil spill health risks
Workers in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico region during the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill were (and may still be) at risk from exertional heat stroke, and there can be short-term effects from fresh oil-spill fumes: affecting the eye, neurological system, and skin. Short term lung, kidney, and liver functions may be affected. Media reports and studies of oil spills do not address effects of long term or chronic exposure to crude oil spills, but sources indicate that as oil breaks down in water it becomes less toxic over time. - Reuters
OSHA's position and that of other expert sources such as the ATSDR is that modest typical residential exposure to heating oil fumes is a nuisance that may not pose a hazard to a healthy individual. Reuters reported that "Health and Human Services Department officials told a Congressional haring that little is known about the health impacts on people of oil spills." (Reuters, op cit. 6/23/10) We recommend monitoring results of "Assessing the Human Health Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: An Institute of Medicine Workshop", June 22-23 2010. - Institute of Medicine.
While the long term environmental effects of crude oil spills such as the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill are not yet clear, more immediate complaints of oil fumes ashore in Louisiana have been reported. Local health officials in that state have warned people with respiratory illness, asthma, or similar conditions to avoid breathing oil fumes and to "stay indoors".
The oil and oil fume toxicity, safety and MSDS data below provides a summary of possible health concerns from short term, chronic, or long term exposure to refined oil spills such as No. 2 home heating oil. We include links to Material Data Safety Sheets for Crude Oil MSDS as well as home heating oil MSDS where we provide more health related details.
Recommended articles for readers interested in the effects of the gulf oil spill:
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Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. He is also a contributor to InspectApedia.com in several technical areas such as plumbing and appliances (dryer vents). Contact Mr. Cranor at 804-747-7747 or by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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OIL TANK ABANDONING PROCEDURE - Abandoning Oil Tanks - provides a detailed discussion of
Abandoning Commercial vs. Residential Underground Oil Storage Tanks (UST) - Procedures & Regulations
OIL TANK REGULATIONS U.S. State and Federal environmental regulations regarding oil leak reporting,
oil and other storage tank registration, oil tank abandonment, tank removal, tank testing, and other
storage tanks, U.S. state regulations, and regulations in other countries are discussed in
detail at this link where we also give contact information for various federal and state agencies.
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