In early September, news reports surfaced about a 500-gallon oil spill at a private residence on Ridgefield Rd. The spill reportedly resulted from the malfunction of two oil tanks located on a dirt floor in the basement of the house, causing the tanks’ contents to seep into the ground below the home and leading to contaminated drinking water on at least two Wilton properties.

The spill was so bad that the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) had to step in to handle the cleanup. While the town’s Health Department doesn’t have direct oversight of the Ridgefield Rd. situation, it is taking steps to encourage all of Wilton’s residents to take precautions when it comes to oil tank safety.

“The Wilton Health Department implores those of our residents who use home heating oil to be proactive in the effort to protect our natural resources and property,” says Wilton’s health director Barry Bogle.

What’s more, the department is making it a priority to gather information from as many residents as possible about their homes’ home heating oil tanks and equipment–Bogle says they’re hoping for 100% participation. He also wants to advocate for residents taking good care of their home oil systems and awareness of what can go wrong.

“An oil spill from an underground storage tank (UST) or an aboveground storage tank (AST) occurs in a number of ways–over filling of the tank by a delivery person, or equipment problems, which can come in many forms–a crack in the oil tank, feeder lines, filters, fittings in/on the furnace, total failure of an oil tank, and more,” Bogle says in a press release.

Often times these leaks or failures go undetected or are deemed to be minor or inconsequential. However, any such event may cause significant adverse effects to our natural resources. These leaks can be very difficult to remediate and can result in enormous financial expenses.

While there are no town ordinances governing maintenance and upkeep of oil tanks, Bogle says there are State statues and Public Health Code regulations that are specific to property upkeep/maintenance and nuisance conditions. And in the future, his department will use the survey responses when people come in for building permits.

“We will be reviewing permits that we obtain for the installation of oil tanks and cross referencing those with the responses from the survey. Beyond that, we will rerun the survey at a later date if warranted.”

Bogle suggests that in preparation for the upcoming winter season, when servicing a boiler and/or furnace to have a service provider complete an inspection of your oil tank and its components at the same time.

Wilton officials also hope that residents will complete a town-wide survey to so the town can collect information and data on the number of privately-owned oil tanks, as well as facilitate getting information about use and safety of oil tanks to residents.

The survey is available on the town website.