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Underground storage tank being removed by an excavator

Underground storage tank removal or abandonment permit

Until the 1960s most Vancouver home furnaces were heated by oil in underground storage tanks (UST) typically buried in yards near furnaces.

Today, all heating oil storage tanks that haven't been used for two years must be removed to:

  • Properly manage the flammable and combustible contents
  • Minimize the risk of subsurface contamination

Also, any contaminated soil must be removed and replaced with clean soil.

Find out the benefits of removing a UST, how to detect one on your property, and how to get a permit to remove it or safely abandon it in place.

Benefits of removing a tank from your property

Removing a tank:

  1. Improves your property's environmental conditions
  2. Satisfies lenders, buyers, and insurance agents
  3. Removes high-risk conditions
  4. Reduces your environmental liability and subsequent effects to your property value

Detect a tank on your property

Check our records first

The City may have records for UST removals, abandonments, and installations. To check, phone 3-1-1.

Hire a contractor to confirm

As a property owner, it's your responsibility to confirm if there's a UST by hiring a contractor to search the property. The contractor will use equipment like ground-penetrating radar to search for a UST.

If a tank exists, retain the contractor as soon as possible to either:

  • Remove the tank
  • Abandon the tank in place if the City agrees that removing it isn't practical

Ask several contractors for quotes and look them up with the Better Business Bureau.

Remove or abandon a tank

Register for an account and submit your application online.

Apply online

You may also apply for your permit in person at the Development and Building Services Centre (see contact on this page). Bring the following:

  1. Completed tank removal or abandonment permit application form.  (50 KB)
    • If you're applying to abandon the UST, provide photo or supportive evidence for abandonment.
  2. Fee payment

Note If the UST is abandoned and determined to be removed on a future date, you will need a separate tank removal permit.

Complete the work within 90 days of your permit being issued. Follow construction site safety regulations during your project.

  1. Remove the tank and associated underground piping. Put up the necessary fencing, guards, and shoring.
  2. Store the tank on-site until your inspection in step 2 is completed.
  3. Before you backfill:
    • Phone 3-1-1 to request an inspection.
    • Don't backfill until your inspection is completed.
    • Hire an environmental consultant to assess and test the soil, and prepare a report. We may ask you to provide additional information.
  4. Backfill the excavation using clean fill.

To ask for an extension, phone 3-1-1 or 604-873-7000. If the permit has expired, you'll need a new permit.

Contaminated soils must be managed in accordance with the BC Ministry of Environment Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR).

City bylaws require soils be remediated to CSR standards. However, the work can be conducted in the future (such as when the site is redeveloped). To learn more, read the ministry's Fact Sheet 32 – Residential Heating Oil Storage Tanks  (200 KB).

As per the BC Environmental Management Act, responsibility to clean up the contamination belongs to the

  • Current property owner
  • Previous property owner (if they were aware the tank existed)
  • Fuel transporter (if they caused the contamination)

Costs can be recovered from the responsible parties after the contamination is cleaned. To learn more, visit the BC Government remediation liability webpage .

  1. Hire a qualified environmental professional to:
    • Monitor the contractor's tank-removal activities
    • Confirm residual (tank excavation) soil quality meets CSR standards
  2. Have the consultant complete a tank removal/decommissioning report  (120 KB).
  3. Email the report to our Environmental Contamination Team at ust.reporting@vancouver.ca within 90 days of the fire inspection.
    • Need an extension? Email our team
    • If you don't submit the report on time, your permit will expire.

After we’ve reviewed the report findings, the permit will be closed as completed. If contaminated soils remain, notes will be included indicating future cleanup is required.

Permit fee (valid 90 days) $300
Environmental consultant fee $2,500 – $3,000
Tank removal contractor fee $3,000 – $5,000 (inclusive)

$10,000 (minor contamination)

Contaminated soil disposal fee

$275 per tonne (first 15 tonnes)

$50 per tonne (over 15 tonnes)

Soil analysis fee – extractable petroleum hydrocarbon (EPH) About $70
Soil analysis fee – light and heavy extractable petroleum hydrocarbon (LEPH/HEPH) About $120

Contact the Development and Building Services Centre about building and zoning

Phone
604-873-7611

Location and mailing address
Development and Building Services Centre
Ground floor
515 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4A8

Hours
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
8:30am to 4:30pm

Tuesday, Thursday
8:30am to 4:00pm

Free 2-hour parking
West 10th Ave parking lot,
between Cambie and Yukon

Contact Fire Prevention

Phone: 3-1-1 or 604-873-7000

Hours
Monday to Friday
8:30am to 4:30pm