Emergency Oil Spill Response Team at Verdantas Shares 11 Tips to Avoid an Oil Spill

Many homeowners are unaware of what their liability includes in owning an Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) to store their heating oil. Of course this only comes up when fuel tanks or lines rupture. At Verdantas, we see ruptures all winter long and will work with the oil distributors, insurance companies, and homeowners to reach a fair determination of the cause and origin of the spill. There are many factors that play into why residential tanks rupture or releases occur. Typically it’s due to: corroded tanks and lines, an insect filled vent line, and faulty vent whistles. While oil distributors should follow safety precautions when filling a tank, homeowners should know that they are responsible for the conditions of their fuel tank.

Here are some best practices and considerations we recommend homeowners take to be proactive in improving the condition of their tank to avoid an oil spill this winter.

  1. As a homeowner, ask your insurance provider to add coverage for the heating oil system—oil tank, fuel lines, and other components—to protect you in the event of a fuel oil release.
  2. Ask your oil provider about measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of a fuel oil release.
  3. Check the date your tank was manufactured (usually this is indicated on a label or engraved metal plate affixed to the top of the tank) and consider replacement if it is beyond its rated lifespan, which is typically 20 years for indoor tanks and 10 years for outdoor tanks. If the age of your tank is unknown, or if there are any signs of significant corrosion, consider replacing it.
  4. Have annual inspections performed on your tank(s)—the body of the tank, leg supports, and fittings—for signs of rust, corrosion and oil weeps, and look for potential hazards that could damage the tank (e.g., stored items that could fall on or into the tank). Additionally, make sure to inspect both the fill and vent pipes for possible obstructions or other problems—missing fill or vent caps, insect nests, and ice buildup.
  5. For outdoor tanks, regularly evaluate and mitigate potential hazards to the oil tank such as overhanging tree limbs and overhanging ice buildup along roof lines that could fall and cause damage.
  6. By filling the tank at the end of the heating season and not allowing it to remain low on oil for extended periods, you will reduce condensation buildup and internal corrosion.
  7. Fuel lines should be inspected annually for signs of corrosion or damage and replaced as necessary.
  8. Ensure that all fuel lines have a protective sleeve and are aboveground.
  9. Fuel lines that run underground—beneath the basement slab—should be replaced immediately with sleeved, aboveground lines in accordance with current fire and building code regulations.
  10. Make sure the heating oil system is equipped with an oil safety valve (OSV: a loss prevention device designed to prevent the flow of fuel unless a vacuum is being drawn from the oil burner) to reduce the risk of loss from fuel lines or filter assemblies in the event of a leak.

Remember each tank is different. Give us a call if you are concerned about your tank’s condition.

What to do if you Experience an Oil Spill

  1. Contact your local 911 Responder or Fire Department
  2. Contact your State Spill Response Team*
  3. Contact your Insurance Carrier
  4. Contact Verdantas for Assistance Managing Oil Spill Clean Up/Remediation and Costs**
    We can protect your company by ensuring a proper investigation, through remediation approach and/or providing regulatory and insurance claim support.

*New England State Spill Response Contact Numbers

New Hampshire

M – F | 8AM – 4PM 603.271.3899 Weekends and Evenings 603.223.4381


M – F | 8AM – 4PM 802.828.1138 Weekends and Evenings 800.641.5005


24-HOUR HOTLINE 800.482.0777


M – F | 9AM – 5PM 617.292.5500 24-HOUR HOTLINE 888.304.1133


24-HOUR HOTLINE 860.424.3338 or toll free 866.DEP-SPIL

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