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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gulf Spill in the Basement

With all this humidity and moisture in the air, we digress to skip a gardening topic to talk about something relevant to Massachusetts’ homeowners who heat with oil. Maybe some of you are aware of this new law but I wasn’t until I received a newsletter from a local realtor. Thanks to Gail Bergeron (Bergeron Realty Associates) for her informative bulletin. Because of her head’s up on this law, I was able to contact my insurance agent and my oil company, which also services our tanks to get me moving in the right direction. I suggest you might do the same. The following information is technical but if you do heat with oil, you should read this post regarding its potential impact.

“Massachusetts has a new law to address oil leaks from home heating systems. (Chapter 453 of the Acts of 2008). The law has two major provisions that require:

• The installation of either an oil safety valve or an oil supply line with a protective sleeve on systems that do not currently have these devices; and
• Insurance companies that write homeowner policies to offer coverage for leaks from heating systems that use oil.

Most homeowner policies do not currently include such coverage, leaving many to pay for costly clean-ups out of their own pocket. Although it is mandatory that insurance companies offer this coverage, the insurance is an optional purchase for homeowners.

Please note that since Gail’s newsletter, the law for enforcing the above compliance has been delayed until September 30, 2011. The new law, originally set to become effective July 1, 2010, now gives homeowners fifteen additional months to comply. In short, the law is designed to eliminate oil leaks that have plagued numerous older homes in the commonwealth where a fuel line leaves the oil tank and is then buried in concrete and reappears at the burner. In some of the homes the buried portion of the fuel line leaks and causes expensive environmental damage. In addition, the new law requires homeowner insurance companies to make available coverage, at an additional cost, for oil spills to all homes that are in compliance with the new rules.

For the most up-to-date information, check out this link and keep in mind that as of July 1, 2010, it is now mandatory for homeowner’s policies to offer this coverage if you are in compliance with the remaining portion of the law.

Most may think that they will never see a spill in their home. Clean-up is costly. When our oil company came to inspect the two tanks and sign off on the certificate of compliance, we were told that clean-up can range upwards to $350,000. It can be a catastrophic occurrence. The added insurance covers both property and liability for this exposure but at a cost. Trust me, I’m not promoting insurance. It’s the nemesis of being alive in this wonderful state of ours.

I don’t usually delve into rulings and regulations. It bores me and is tedious to write. No fun pics or quotes. I do apologize for the flower break but this is coming at all the folks who use oil in their Massachusetts’ homes, specifically those with older homes. Now I am off to grow orchids in the garden. It feels more like Hilo, Hawaii right now then it does like Massachusetts. If I lived in Hawaii, I wouldn’t need to worry about this new law. Today’s quote comes from John Muir. “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. “

Note: All information regarding this new law came from the above cited sources.
Image of basement clean-up of an oil spill from the Internet
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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)