Maine DEP Tank Replacement Project Protects South Berwick Drinking Water Supply

August 17, 2012

Contact: Samantha DePoy-Warren, Maine DEP Communications Director / (207) 287-5842 or David McCaskill, Maine DEP Environmental Engineer, / (207) 287-7056 or Peter Moulton, Maine DEP Environmental Engineer, / (207) 287-8161

-Starting this month, a private contractor hired by the South Berwick Water District with Maine Department of Environmental Protection funding is replacing at-risk residential tanks that are within the wellhead protection zone as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to reduce discharges from home heating oil tanks-

SOUTH BERWICK – The local drinking water supply and the public who relies on it will be better protected following the replacement of 30 at-risk home heating oil tanks here, thanks to funding from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Through a generous $100,000 grant from the DEP through Maine’s Ground Water Oil Clean-Up Fund, the South Berwick Water District contracted the York and Sanford based Estes Oil and Propane to replace the 30 tanks in South Berwick, starting this month. Most of these tanks are indoors.

The tanks being replaced are within the wellhead protection area and are considered at-risk by the department, which believes rust and internal corrosion could cause the aged tanks to leak or completely fail, threatening the water supply in South Berwick.

A wellhead protection area is the zone around a drinking water supply well where discharged contaminants are likely to move toward or reach the well.

Each tank removed will be replaced with a Roth double-walled tank that will not rust and, in the rare case of a leak, feature secondary containment to capture any oil that escapes the primary tank to ensure the protection of public and environmental health.

The DEP receives nearly 3,000 spill calls per year, with more than one a day coming from a residential home heating oil tank, costing Maine taxpayers as much as $2 million in clean-up annually. Internal corrosion is the leading cause of discharges from home heating oil tanks, with physical damage – mostly from falling ice and snow – the second leading cause.

Internal corrosion – a result of water and sludge build-up – destroys a tank from the inside out and so often the deterioration isn’t visible to homeowners until a catastrophic tank failure occurs.

Many Maine oil dealers have licensed technicians on their staff who can perform ultrasonic thickness tests on tanks to determine if they are deteriorating and DEP encourages homeowners to have these tests done annually.

In addition to contaminating drinking and ground water and the environment, releases from home heating oil tanks are a great inconvenience for homeowners, requiring a costly clean-up and fuel replacement, impairing indoor air quality and leading to lower property values.

About three-quarters of Maine’s households – the highest share in the nation – rely on fuel oil for home heating, accounting for more than 400,000 home heating oil residential tanks in use.

If you spill any fuel or think there is a threat of one, please report it immediately to the Maine DEP’s 24-hour oil spill emergency spill response hotline at 1-800-482-0777.

For more information from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection about keeping your home heating oil tank safe, visit and search “Tank Shape.”