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Oil tank removal - Watling St., Burnaby, BC

jerrimae gutierrez

    Nov 8, 2022

    2 min


Removing old furnace oil tanks matters.  


In our previous blog, we mentioned how vital the process performed by our demolition partner, MWL was in keeping our construction team and the future homeowner safe from a hazardous event that may arise in the future if the concrete and asphalt were not removed. The dangerous event we were talking about refers to the possible impacts of an old furnace oil tank buried in the site. 

The presence of an oil tank was first suspected when copper lines appeared during the site excavation. For those who didn’t know, if copper lines like the one in the photo below were found, there is a high possibility that an old furnace tank exists on the site.

If that oil tank weren’t taken out, it may result in many unforeseen events that could risk the stakeholders’ lives. Firstly, if it was not discovered right away, the backhoe might accidentally cause it to explode, putting our team’s lives in danger. Secondly, suppose it wasn’t discovered and didn’t explode. In that case, it might still cause health hazards because the oil tank could produce a potentially explosive mixture once blended with other construction materials. Thirdly, if it remained undiscovered or ignored, it could contaminate the soil or the water, which may harm the homeowner’s health in the future. To prevent these dangers from occurring, we immediately contacted the city to verify if any permits were pulled to remove the tank in the past because the previous property owner didn’t mention anything about it. We have also connected with Tank Tech to help us scan the area to check the existence of an old furnace oil tank.

The process of detection and digging out oil tank and soil sampling took a couple of hours.

Unfortunately, an old furnace oil tank was found.

Considering the result, we immediately arranged an oil tank removal request with Tank Tech. Note that this process requires local and environmental permits before taking place, so if you encounter a similar problem in the future, always keep all the requirements in mind. 

Tank Tech took care of all the processes to remove the oil tank successfully. When it was done, the next thing we did was have the soil tested to ensure that it was not contaminated, and if it wasn’t, we could finally continue the excavation process. 

The soil test result came, and the laboratory test indicated that the soil was healthy. The ground was hard-packed, and thankfully, very little oil spread out. If the soil test failed and petroleum or toxins were detected, the excavation would cost a lot more since the excavation would all need to be shipped to a remediation yard in Alberta.

This is the first time we have encountered such problems because either the information was kept from us or the previous owner didn’t know about it. In our next construction project, we will ensure that such concerns will also be discussed. Nonetheless, we believe this event demonstrated some of the good construction practices that our team employs to keep everything smooth and headache-free for our clients.

This article was last updated on May 27, 2023