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What happens to my heating oil tank if I switch to natural gas?

Last updated on 6 April 2020

Are you a private individual, residing in Brussels? And do you wish to have your old heating oil tank removed? Then please proceed as follows:

1. Check your obligations

In Brussels, you must follow a specific procedure if your oil tank is one of the so-called “classified” installations (subject to an environmental declaration or permit). This is a legal obligation.

How do you know if your installation is classified?

All buried tanks are classified. Unburied tanks are classified if they have a capacity of 3000 litres or more.

2. Notify the responsible authority

  • If your installation is classified, you must notify the authority that issued the declaration or permit (Brussels Environment or the municipality) in advance by registered letter. Your letter should include a description of the planned work and the date. You will be notified of the disabling procedure. 
  • If your installation is not classified, you can skip this step.

3. Arrange for your heating oil tank to be emptied and cleaned

It is best to assign the cleaning of your tank to a specialised company that can perform this task safely and without endangering the environment.

They degas the tank and remove any remaining heating oil. This is followed by a thorough clean, which also disposes of the waste and washing water. The collected waste must be processed by a hazardous waste collector accredited in the Brussels Capital Region, whether or not your oil tank is classified.

©  Brussels Cleaning and Maintenance

4. Neutralise your heating oil tank and/or have it removed 

Option 1: have your oil tank removed

Once your tank is empty and cleaned, have it removed. The heating oil tank may be cut into pieces in order to remove it. Please note: a heating oil tank can catch fire even after it has been emptied and thoroughly cleaned.

Do not take any risks by cutting your tank into pieces yourself using a burner or grinder! Always have your heating oil tank removed or neutralised by a qualified professional.

Option 2: Leave your tank where it is and decommission it

Decommissioning your tank means disabling the filling devices to prevent oil delivery.

  • For aerial oil tanks, it is sufficient to remove the filling device.
  • Underground tanks must also be filled with an inert material (sand, cement, mortar or concrete).
  • If it is a classified installation, you must obtain the approval of the authority responsible for your authorisation or permit (Brussels Environment or the municipality) to decommission it. Once approved, call in a professional and always ask for a decommissioning certificate. You may be asked for it later.

5. Carry out a soil condition survey

This step is mandatory if:

  • your tank has a capacity of more than 10,000 litres;
  • soil pollution is discovered during the work;
  • an incident is likely to have caused soil pollution (leakage, overflow, etc.)

For more info

List of heating oil tank cleaning professionals (Informazout)
Heating oil tank (Brussels Environment)
Guide for operators of buried fuel oil tanks (Brussels Environment)
Guide for operators of unburied fuel oil tanks (Brussels Environment)

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