HALIFAX - Homeowners will have more help replacing oil tanks and addressing septic system issues as the province expands the Environmental Home Assessment Program.
Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau announced the changes Thursday.
"Some hard working families feel forced to make the choice to replace their oil tanks or put food on their tables, and it's a choice no Nova Scotian should have to make," said Mr. Belliveau. "By providing more families with the help they need to replace their oil tanks and repair or replace their septic systems, we are protecting the health of Nova Scotians and the environment."
Families who need to replace their oil tanks will receive up to $1,000 to purchase a tank, based on income. Homeowners with septic problems will receive up to $3,000 to repair or replace their systems. The funding, totaling $1.5 million, will be available next spring.
Nova Scotia has about 200,000 domestic oil tanks and 45 per cent of homes in the province use septic systems. Tanks in poor condition are the leading cause of oil spills. Failing septic systems can put a family's drinking water at risk of contamination.
"Oil heat is safe and reliable, but homeowners need to be sure their oil tank is well maintained and replaced in a timely way," said Sylvain Villeneuve, vice-president of Vilco, which manufactures fibreglass oil tanks in Waverley. "Not only will this funding help families avoid costly oil spills, it supports Nova Scotia jobs through installers and tank manufacturing companies like Vilco."
Debbie Jamieson, executive director of the Canadian Oil Heat Association's Nova Scotia chapter, said they believe oil leaks can be prevented.
"Oil heat customers today have a number of proven choices, including tanks made entirely of non-corrosive material and improved double-bottom steel tanks," said Ms. Jamieson. "We encourage oil heat customers to consider these safer storage options and as importantly, ensure the tank is installed by a trained, qualified professional."
Amanda Dean, vice-president of the Atlantic Insurance Bureau of Canada, said homeowners need to be aware of the risks on their property.
"Spills resulting from a fuel oil tank is one such risk," said Ms. Dean. "This program is a good step forward for Nova Scotian homeowners as it raises much needed awareness to frequently check, and sometimes replace our oil tank."
Any homeowner can request a free home visit to discuss well water, septic systems and oil tanks through the Environmental Home Assessment Program. For more information, visit www.gov.ns.ca/nse/hap/ .