Soil Testing FAQ

Did you know that Oil Tanks below ground have a service life of approximately 15 to 20 years? As such, over time they have corroded and began to leak. Because every municipality has varying rules and regulations surrounding the testing of soil, it is important to understand why testing the soil when your buried underground Oil Tank is removed in Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and Coquitlam.

Why is soil testing important?

Sale Process of Property

In most circumstances, the current owner of a property is usually responsible for the removal of any 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 without providing an environmental report or assessment.

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

  • A report from a certified lab showing soil tests were obtained below the Oil Tank and limits are below 1000 parts per million (PPM)OR
  • A certified environmental report signed off by a third party environmental consulting firm 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 or engineer.

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?

Possibly. If you remove an Oil Tank and do not perform any soil testing, it could 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 the soil 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:
  • You may be required to re-open the excavation area at a later date if you are selling your home and the perspective buyers could not get or finalize their mortgage without a report showing soil tests.

Q: Why are five samples taken instead of only one?

A: Oil Tanks have four sides and a bottom, or a base. Taking only one sample will not provide a complete assessment.

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

A: 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 certified staff and/or 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. 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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