Victoria area resident on the hook for faulty oil tank spill clean-up

Two major oil spills in the past week have highlighted the growing problem with failing home oil tanks in the Victoria area.

The tanks rust from the inside out, and are generally good for about 15 years.

But if they’re not replaced in time bad things happen. They start to leak.

The cleanup costs are a fortune, and sometimes a big spill means the entire house has to be demolished.

Gina Dolinsky’s backyard is the site of an ongoing investigation into an oil leak discovered last February.

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“They had to dig it all up in order to determine where the oil was coming from,” says Dolinsky.

But after learning her oil tank and pipes are all intact, Dolinsky is no closer to finding any answers.

“It’s very, very hard. And if I absolutely can’t find the source of it, then of course I will have to wait to clean it all up.

Suspicions are now focused on another property, seven doors away.

The house had to be demolished after 300 liters of oil was delivered to a disconnected tank.

The company’s insurer is on the hook for the bill, pegged at $750,000.

While it happened just weeks before issues arose at Dolinsky’s home, she needs proof the leaks are connected.

Requests to have the oil tested for a match have so far, gone unanswered, leaving Dolinsky responsible.

“I need the cooperation of that oil to help me out, and be a good citizen. Help out with this, and don’t make it my problem.”

In the meantime, there are other potential sources to seek out.

With an estimated 8,000 aging oil tanks buried in Saanich, leaks are becoming more common.

The municipality is now urging residents to make sure everything is up to date.

“The message is don’t wait,” says Saanich mayor Frank Leonard. “It really needs to be done now. Your home heating oil supplier will help you with that process. It is not only good for you and your own calamity and stress level, but it good for the environment as well.”

Given what’s happening along this street, neighbours are taking action.

“I actually got a new one shortly after we moved in,” says Kevin Archambault who lives on the street. “It is double walled. It is dated. There is a tag on it. The company checks it regularly. So we feel it’s safe.”

Meanwhile, Dolinsky plans to move away from oil altogether, installing natural gas instead.

But that doesn’t solve the issue. It’s a matter of pushing for answers that may lie deep beneath the surface.