TAVARES — A new trailer equipped with a 280-gallon tank is allowing the Lake County Department of Environmental Utilities, Water Quality Services Division, to pump out old home-heating oil tanks more cost effectively.
Charlie Cox (left) and Mike Bowers check how much fuel oil is remaining in the tank. Residents can find out if they have a buried home-heating oil tank by looking for two pipes about 6 to 10 inches apart near their house.
Environmental Utilities launched the Residential Home Heating Oil Recovery Program in 2005 to remove and dispose of old fuel oil used to heat homes. The service is provided at no cost to homeowners and is financed by the Pollution Recovery Trust Fund, which receives funds from civil penalties imposed for polluting the environment.
“In early 2008, our contractor restructured its pricing making it uneconomical for the County to continue utilizing their service,” said Charlie Cox, Environmental Programs Supervisor. “We know that there are many home-heating oil tanks out there in the older parts of the cities in Lake County, so it was decided to build our own trailer to continue with this program in-house.”
The Lake County Department of Public Safety, Fire Rescue Division, donated the dual-axle trailer to the program. Previously used to refuel generators, Environmental Utilities re-equipped the trailer with an air compressor, a diaphragm pump, 150 feet of hose and a 280-gallon tank.
“I’m hoping once a week I can go out and perform a pump out,” Cox said. “It’s a good program. Once we get the word out there a little more we will be busy.”
The in-house, pump-out trailer will serve several purposes including:
- Allowing for more convenient scheduling of pump outs
- Eliminating ongoing contract cost (only trailer maintenance)
- Can be used by different departments to transport fuel or clean up spills
- Possible source of revenue by selling recovered heating oil
Cox and Mike Bowers, Director of the Water Quality Services Division, put the trailer to good use earlier this month as they performed a pump out at a Fruitland Park residence. Homeowner Emily Pastor said her home-heating oil tank was topped off in 2004, but a hurricane caused damage to the fuel-oil furnace so she switched over to an electric heat pump.
“For four years we’ve been looking for someone to do this,” Pastor said. “It’s taking a lot of worries off my mind.”
With her property overlooking a canal to Lake Griffin, removing the old fuel oil from the tank was an important step to protect the environment. Home-heating oil tanks were primarily used prior to the 1970s and can easily corrode allowing remaining fuel oil to leak out.
“It’s not a matter of if, but when a tank a will corrode and the fuel oil will seep into the aquifer or a nearby body of water,” Cox said.
Homeowners are encouraged to call (352) 343-3776 ext. 1683 to arrange for proper draining of the home-heating oil tanks and proper disposal of the recovered oil. Commercial properties are not eligible to participate in the program.