It is estimated that between 6,000 and 9,500 oil tanks leak in Belgiume. This can cause soil and groundwater pollution. For the owner, the remediation can also be a financial blow. “It takes about 10,000 euros of study costs and a budget at least 20 to 25,000 euros on average for a clean-up“, explains Olivier Neirynck, the technical director of Brafco, the Belgian federation of fuel and fuel traders. “But depending on the case, this bill can be much higher.
However, since 1East April 2022owners of leaking oil tanks can finally be financially supported – via the non-profit association Promaz – to clear their land. “We want to relieve the consumer of heating oil as much as possible”, says Johan Mattart, President of Promaz.
“Owners of a leaking tank feel guilty for the polluting effect”, underlines Willem Voets, its vice-president. “We want to reach them and let them know that Promaz can help them.”
Promaz therefore financially supports owners or users faced with a leak from the oil tank or its lines. “For a new pollution, Promaz will carry out the soil remediation work. But victims who have already had decontamination carried out and paid for it themselves can also submit a request recovery of the sums paid”, explains Jan Verheyen, spokesperson for the Flemish waste treatment company OVAM.
“Those who have already had decontamination carried out and paid for it can also submit a request for recovery of the sums paid.”
Promaz intervenes for cisterns heating oil located in Belgium which are – or have been – used to heat buildings. The cistern can be underground or above ground. “Pollution caused by leaks from oil tanks used for purposes other than heating buildings, such as industrial applications, is not taken into consideration”, specifies Johan Mattart, president of Promaz.
The maximum financial contribution for remediation differs depending on whether it concerns dwellings, such as houses and apartment buildings, or other buildings such as offices, schools, hospitals and SMEs, he explains. The maximum amount is 200,000 euros for dwellings and 100,000 euros for the other buildings.
“These amounts include VAT and include all costs relating to checks and soil remediation work related to soil contamination by fuel oil tanks”, specifies Johan Mattart.
If the depollution proves to be more expensive, the applicant will have to pay the balance himself.
The fact that there is a fund does not mean that the remediation is free for the owner. The applicant pays 25 euros of administrative costs (excluding VAT). They remain due if the request is subsequently declared inadmissible or incomplete. There are also management costs: 10% of the total cost price of the inspection and remediation works, with a maximum of 500 euros (excluding VAT) per file relating to a building with a residential function and 1,500 euros (excluding VAT) for other buildings. This system also applies to files relating to soil remediation already started or completed, regardless of the date on which it was carried out.
If you switched from heating oil to another source of energy after May 8, 2019, you will in principle have to pay a deductible of 1,000 euros for a file relating to a residential building (2,000 euros for the others).
Note that Promaz will not intervene for certain costs. This is the case for the decommissioning of a tank when not needed for remediation, decontamination not related to fuel oil (such as diesel, gasoline or heavy metals) and when pollution is intentionally caused.
You may already be covered by your private insurance for a leaking tank.
You may already be covered by your insurance for a leaking tank. So your family insurance will intervene for the damage caused to your neighbours. Some fire insurance policies also compensate damage caused by oil tank leaks up to a certain amount. You cannot contact Promaz for (the part of) the depollution for which insurance is involved. However, it is possible for the uninsured part.
If you are affected by this problem, you can register on the Promaz website (www.promaz.be). The fund will then contact you to open a file. At the time of writing, the fund says its goal is to have an online action request module by April. “On the application form, the applicant will have to provide a range of information, including contact details, details of the oil tank, building, pollution and insurance,” explains Johan Mattart. “You will also need to attach a number of annexes to the application, which may vary depending on the type of application.”
In almost all cases, the request must be accompanied by a control report showing that there is a suspicion of soil pollution by an oil tank. “On the website and the electronic counter, you will find information on the accepted documents. A pressure test with loss of pressure on an oil tank will not be enough”, specifies Johan Mattart. Anyone claiming reimbursement for soil decontamination already started or carried out must also submit proof or reports of the decontamination procedure followed and invoices.
When do we clean up?
Applications can be submitted for a period of three years. “For cases of damage that occur after the leak notification period, Promaz is working on an insurance mechanism so that fuel oil users confronted with a leaking tank are effectively helped”, announces Johan Mattart.
When is your floor sanitized? Promaz will first draw up a remediation program on the basis of the accepted dossiers and will determine which remediations will be carried out and when. “If you want to clean up earlier than planned in this prioritization system – for example to ensure good coordination with the conversion works – you can also clean up according to the conditions set by Promaz”, concludes Jan Verheyen.
Gradual disappearance of oil heating
Since the beginning of 2022, there is no no longer allowed to replace a boiler fuel oil in existing buildings in Flanders if a connection to the natural gas network is possible in the street. However, minor repairs to existing devices are still permitted. In addition, oil-fired boilers can no longer be installed in new buildings and during major renovations, even if a connection to the natural gas network is not possible.
What about the other Regions? Nothing like this is currently planned in Wallonia. However, at the federal level, thehe sale of oil-fired boilers will be prohibited from 2035 (but not their use). The Brussels Region nevertheless advanced this date to 2025 and its bonus system provides a bonus (from 300 to 500 euros depending on the case) for those who put an end to oil to heat their homes.