Soil Testing FAQ

Oil Tanks have a service life of approximately 20 years. As such, over time they have corroded and began to leak. Every municipality has varying rules and regulations surrounding the testing of soil.

Why is soil testing important?

Sale Process of Property

Under current regulations, the current owner of a property is usually responsible for the removal of any underground or aboveground heating Oil Tanks. As such, when a perspective purchaser of a property obtains documentation (a certificate) to show the Oil Tank was removed at one time, many purchasers may find it difficult to obtain or finalize a mortgage from lenders and banks.

Many financial or lending institutions will also ask the purchaser for:

  • 1) A report from a certified lab showing soil tests were taken from the property and limits are below 1000 parts per million, or PPM.
  • 2) A certified environmental report signed off by a third party certifying the property as clean of contamination.

Generally, in most instances financial or lending institutions will not accept soil testing or reporting from the Oil Tank contractor. Instead, they usually require a report from a third party environmental consulting firm.

What about municipal requirements?

Unfortunately, regulations regarding soil testing in each municipality varies. For example, the City of Vancouver requires that five soil samples be taken by a certified environmental professional while the District of North Vancouver requires no testing and reporting.

Can I be held liable in the future?

Yes. If you remove an Oil Tank and do not perform any soil testing, it can have major implications in the future. In many instances, homeowners will contact West Coast Tank Recovery and say “The other company that provided a quote said that if it looks clean when the Oil Tank is removed, we can just fill it back in. Soil testing isn’t necessary!”

Be warned in cases like the above. If you do not test your soil, you could face future implications like:
  • 1) You may be required to re-open the excavation area if you are selling your home and the perspective buyers could not get or finalize their mortgage without a report showing soil tests.
  • 2) If contamination is found at a later date in the future after you sell your property, because you failed to test the soil when you removed the Oil Tank the new owners of the property may seek damages for the remediation of the soil.

Why are five samples taken instead of only one?

Oil Tanks have four walls and a base. Taking only one sample most likely will not indicate whether the four other sides of the excavation area is clean or contaminated.

What is the difference between using the Oil Tank company as oposed to an Environmental Consultant for testing?

In many cases, in the City of Vancouver for example, the Oil tank contractor is not allowed to take their own samples. In many municipalities, it is completely non-regulated. It factors down to liabilities in the future. Environmental Consulting firms are licensed, trained and certified in testing soil and most have biologists, agrologists and engineers who are trained to take soil tests and provide written reports. Oil Tank companies generally are not certified to provide written reports or test soil, but it can be done. By using an Environmental Consulting firm, if your soil is determined to be contaminated, they act as a third party between the Oil Tank company (the excavation firm) and the homeowner.

Trusted Environmental Consultants:

Entech Environmental Consultants- 778.788.6111
Fred Sverre, R.P. Bio., M. Sci.

Alara Environmental Health and Safety- 604.724.2331
Steven Seewald, AScT, EP, CRSP

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