New Regulations from Oil and Solid Fuel Board.
Earlier this year the Maine Oil and Solid Fuel Board (the "Board") adopted new regulations impacting residential properties. The key features of the new regulations are:
Any existing buried, grouted, unprotected oil supply lines must be replaced no later than February 2, 2000. If the replacement line is going to be buried, they must be placed within protective sleeves. According to the Board, the only way to tell whether existing buried lines are properly protected is to locate the point where the copper line leaves the storage tank and enters the slab and where it exits the slab and enters the burner unit. If the line enters a sleeve protruding from the slab, it is a protected line, if it enters directly it is unprotected.
External oil tanks must be secured and protected to current code standards or replaced with an interior tank no later than February 2, 2003.
Effective immediately, when an existing oil burning appliance is replaced or any new appliance is installed into an existing chimney, the entire system must be brought up to current code requirements. In addition to the items listed above, this means the existing chimney must be brought up to current code standards. This will require lining any unlined chimney, ensuring proper clearances between the chimney and combustible materials, ensuring proper fire stops where the chimney passes through floors and ceilings, ensuring the presence of a clean-out or other means for cleaning the chimney and examining exposed areas of the chimney for signs of decomposition.
The Board had no information on the estimated number or percentage of residential properties affected by these regulations and no cost estimates on the financial impact of the requirements. The regulations will be enforced through the Boards oversight of licensed oil burner technicians.
On August 13, 1998, the Board issued two temporary waivers involving the new requirements:
Waiver of the required clearance to combustible material on existing interior and exterior chimneys when replacing oil burning appliances (does not apply to solid fuel appliances or wood stoves).
Waiver of the requirement to line a double brick chimney provided the chimney is structurally in tact and passes a smoke test.
In a related matter, the Maine Legislature enacted legislation during the 1998 session which authorizes the expenditure of up to $1 million per year for the next two fiscal years for the replacement and upgrade of heating oil tanks and piping which are at risk of leaking. Funding will come from the Maine Ground Water Oil Clean-up Fund and will be divided between the DEP ($250,000/year) and Maines eleven regional Community Action Program agencies ($750,000/year). DEP will focus its attention on geologically sensitive areas where leaks have a greater impact on ground water. The CAP agencies will use the funding to upgrade to current regulatory standards the tanks and piping of low income single family homes. The Maine Fund Insurance Review Board must report to the Legislature by January 15, 2000 on the results of the pilot program and make a recommendation on whether it should continue.
The CAP agencies will focus on replacement of substandard heating oil supply systems among their client base. The funding allocation will be divided among the eleven CAP agencies on the basis of the number of clients in each district. It is anticipated that virtually all of the first year funds will be used to upgrade oil supply systems which consist of:
1. Tanks and piping with visible leaks;
2. Outdoor tanks that are leaning, are unstable, or rest on an unstable base not installed in accordance with the 1998 standards of the Board;
3. Heating oil supply tanks and piping which otherwise pose an obvious risk of an oil spill or leak; or
4. Heating oil supply systems which are in non-compliance with the 1998 standards of the Board (primarily systems which use fifty-five (55) gallon drums as storage).
After this, replacement priority will be given to systems which exhibit:
5. Piping buried underground without secondary containment;
6. Piping installed under a basement floor or in concrete without secondary containment;
7. Piping and filters not protected from snow and ice falling from a roof;
8. Tanks and piping in contact with the ground; or
9. Tanks with visible severe pit corrosion or patches.
Statewide, the CAP client base numbers in excess of 30,000 households. In order to establish an adequate profile of clients in potential need for assistance, CAP agency personnel have assembled information regarding individual clients and their heating systems and heating oil supply systems. DEP will contract with the CAP agencies for assistance in implementing the program. In the course of system inspections, new CAP clients may be discovered. As this occurs, these situations will be included in the listing of candidates for system replacement and will be evaluated in accordance with established procedures.