That darn oil tank

In my post about our newly painted house, did you happen to notice the mess in our front yard?  Allow me to point it out in case you missed it.  You were probably focused on how great the house itself is looking these days.

It would be more noticeable if the orange fencing was upright and surrounding the gaping hole in our front yard like it’s supposed to be, but it had to come down so the painters could maneuver around the house, so it’s kind of in a heap right now.  There’s a big sheet of plywood covering the hole right now to keep people from falling in.

And why, you may ask, is there a big hole in our front yard?  Now that we’ve made the switch from oil to natural gas heat, getting rid of our 1950’s oil furnace and gaining a gorgeous and efficient gas fireplace, we had to decommission the oil tank.  Local law requires unused buried oil tanks to be cleaned, filled, and capped, or removed entirely.  We opted to have it removed.  When the contractor dug out the old oil tank, they discovered it had been leaking oil into the soil around it.  Not surprisingly, test results showed the soil contamination was over the legal limit.  We had hoped this wouldn’t be the case, but fortunately we were prepared for it anyway.  The good news is that our state (Washington) sponsors a free insurance program, PLIA, to cover cleanup of leaking heating oil tanks.  We signed up for it as soon as we bought our house, so this shouldn’t cost us any extra money.  Whew.  The bad news is that:

1) we have a big hole in the front yard and we have to wait for the state to approve our claim before cleanup can start;

2) the hole smells like oil, yuck;

3) the contractor will have to dig up even more of the yard to remove the contaminated soil; and

4) this whole thing is going to take several weeks at least.

So for now we have to live with this mess in the yard (hey, we’ve been living with various messes for two years, why stop now?), and just be grateful that it’s not going to cost us a fortune and it’s probably not going to involve excavating the entire yard.  Maybe I shouldn’t say that and jinx it.  After all, I once said the tank probably wasn’t leaking.  In picture format.  See?  D’oh.

LUST = leaking underground storage tank.  We’ll keep our fingers crossed that the contamination isn’t any worse than our contractor estimated.

-Kelly