July 22, 2011
Environmental Surprises in Vancouver West Side
Recently I took a listing for a small apartment building built in 1956 in Vancouver, west side. The owner said he had the oil tank removed and papers to show that the site had no contamination. Getting together all the documents, I discovered that the owner had only received a handwritten, one page sheet from the contractor....no City of Vancouver permit had been issued, proper process had been disregarded. Therein began the lengthy and costly adventure of trying to right a serious environmental wrong for the property owner of an 8 unit apartment building in Vancouver's west side. The site had to be opened and tested ....the findings were shocking. There was oil that had leaked from the tank and therefore, had to be removed. Eight truck loads of contaminated soil were sent to a special site, soil testing at various stages, and mounting expenses continued on for weeks. Soil too close to the foundation had to be bio-remediated. Because the owner is 90 years old, English is his second language, and he suffers hearing loss, as his REALTOR, I tried to co ordinate and help him through this unexpected turn of events. Every day I picked him up and drove him to the site to observe and try to understand the process. And it is not over yet. For most home owners, dealing with an oil tank buried in their yard is an event that they likely only encounter at most once in a lifetime. The process of remediation, inspection, and removal is not something that one inherently would know. The home owner would quite logically rely upon the contractor who makes his living doing this type of work. To be so badly betrayed and misled by a professional contractor is not only shocking, but also seems to shout for justice. But there is none.
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