Tanks may trigger lawsuit

Digging up oil tanks from the backyards of former army houses is expensive business. Especially if you were told they were empty and weren’t a…

Digging up oil tanks from the backyards of former army houses is expensive business.

Especially if you were told they were empty and weren’t a problem.

That’s why a handful of local lawyers are considering a lawsuit against Ottawa for leaving behind scores of oil-filled tanks in Takhini North, said Murray Leitch, who purchased the subdivision in 1999 with fellow lawyers Terrance Boylan and Tim Preston.

They’ll be seeking the $65,000 they spent in 2003 to clean up an environmental mess left behind by Ottawa, said Leitch.

“We may have to start a lawsuit.

“When we purchased these units we were told by Public Works Canada that the underground storage tanks, the oil tanks, had been decommissioned,” said Leitch.

And, the lawyers passed on that information to the homebuyers.

That information proved to be false.

The lawyers discovered that many of the 60 or so oil tanks Ottawa said were empty and filled with dirt to prevent them from leaking were actually full, he said.

With the tendency for underground tanks to take on rainwater and leak oil into the environment, the tanks posed a problem.

The lawyers stumbled across this problem while doing work in a homeowner’s backyard, said Leitch.

“They were not properly decommissioned, so we hired Arctic Backhoe and went around and took out all of them because we had told people that they were properly decommissioned.

“Even though we hadn’t purposefully misled anyone, we had told people that the tanks had been properly decommissioned and they hadn’t, we went and did it.

“We weren’t going to make our problems their problems.”