BENEATH the surface of thousands of North Shore back yards, a ticking time bomb lurks. And as increasing numbers of unlucky homeowners are discovering, the collateral damage from buried oil tanks can be financially devastating.
Once upon a time, burying tanks that contained home heating oil underground was perfectly acceptable. They were out of sight and largely out of mind. But as decades passed, many of the old tanks fell into disuse. They remained underground, corroding.
Homeowners today are reaping that unfortunate harvest. Some owners have been unaware an oil tank existed on their property; others have been led to believe that the tank was dug up, only to find out that is not the case.
The cost of remediation is often staggering. The costs of court cases that follow are also stratospheric and take years to resolve.
Taxpayers can't help homeowners with every challenge they face, but given the scale of this problem, it makes sense for the province to step in. The original decisions to bury the tank were in keeping with the standards of the day. The province updated those standards, and some people are bearing a ruinous burden for those changes. Few can pay for a clean up that can cost $100,000 or more, so many ignore the problem or try to solve it illegally. Only if the government chips in will this issue be resolved quickly and for good.
The longer the tanks are in the ground, the more we'll all end up paying later.