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Thursday, April 19 Opinion

From the desk of Fire Marshal Fred Baker

The New Canaan Fire Marshal's Office continues to field questions regarding underground fuel oil tank requirements. Following is a list of answers to common questions:

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Fact box

There is no regulation or law that requires the removal of residential, underground oil tanks unless they are known to be leaking. Most of the removals are the result of banks not wanting to finance homes with underground tanks.

Generally if a tank has been in the ground for 30 years, it would be prudent to have it removed.

New, approved tanks may still be installed underground, if desired (extremely rare).

For many reasons, it is desirable to remove an underground tank as opposed to abandoning in place. Unless there are unusual circumstances such as topography or under structures, it is also usually less expensive to remove an underground oil tank.

If abandonment is chosen, the top of the tank must be exposed, a man hole cut into the tank, all residual sludge removed, soil samples taken from under the tank (usually by cutting a hole through bottom), and then filed with approved, inert, material that will prevent a future sinkhole from forming.

No permit is required to remove an underground oil tank. The New Canaan Fire Marshal's Office requests that a one page "registration" form be completed and returned to our office prior to removal (form available at www.newcanaan.info).

It is very important to obtain a "closure" report from the removal contractor to verify, for future purchasers, that the tank was properly removed and that there was no contamination. If there was contamination, to verify that it was properly removed and disposed.

Copies of any reports should be forwarded to the fire marshal's office so that it is on file for future reference by realtors and attorneys conducting research for closings.

Contact the New Canaan Fire Marshal's Office at 203-594-3030 for further questions.