All 250 gallons of fuel oil had leaked from the tank into the basement, which was partially dirt floor, so much of the oil apparently had escaped into the ground and leached outside the home. The spill was reported to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and the regional spill manager was dispatched to the home.
Rob said the DEC immediately called an environmental mitigation contractor who advised that they call their insurance company to get authorization for the state to mitigate the spill.
“Our insurance company instructed us to approve the mitigation without delay,” he said.
So they did, and after contractors removed the concrete floor and seven tons of earth, it was confirmed that about 150 gallons of the oil had escaped and eventually reached a nearby ditch that led to a small stream. The mitigation also included stopping the flow of oil and covering the basement with a new layer of concrete.
The result was a bill from the DEC for $31,960, and the prospective buyers were released from their offer, so the sale of the house was off.
Meanwhile, the insurance company had sent an engineer to inspect the tank, which had been removed to Reinhardt Home Heating in West Oneonta. It was determined that the spill would not be covered because of negligence on the part of the homeowner for not realizing the tank was corroding and therefore could leak.
However, Rob said, the tank was inspected just weeks before the leak and was given a clean bill of health. And Reinhardt President David Harder, who examined the tank after the leak, said he estimated the tank to be about 20 years old and thought it looked to be in pretty good shape.
So, for the past year, Rob said, they have been trying to work out a compromise solution between the DEC and the insurance company, but without success. Thus, the recent letter from the attorney general’s office insisting on payment.