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A Guide To Cleaning Up Oil Spills In Your Home

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If you have a heating oil system in your home or site, at some point you may experience a spill, a leak, or any other release of the heating oil. This leakage or spillage could be from your oil delivery lines, oil tank, or any other component of your heating system. Such spillage can contaminate your soil, posing hazards to your health, the environment, or your ground water system. For this reason, you need to address the issue as fast as possible. Informing your local fire department may also be a good idea because heating oil is combustible.

Nonetheless, your oil-contaminated soil will have to be cleaned up. A common choice would be disposal of the contaminated soils and excavation. These methods would jeopardize your home's structural integrity, and that is why you should consider the following options:

Soil Flushing

This method involves flooding the contaminated zone with appropriate solutions to remove the contaminants. Liquid solutions or water is infiltrated or injected into the contaminated area. After passing through the contaminated area, the fluid bearing the oil is collected for recirculation, disposal, or on-site reinjection and treatment. Soil flushing technology will work effectively for your oil-contaminated soil. However, note that this may only remove the surface contaminants and if the oil has penetrated deeper, you need to consider other options.


This technology involves the reduction of the hazard potential of the oil and any other contaminants in it by converting them into less toxic, mobile, or soluble forms. Certain stabilization agents or binders, often made up of soluble silicates, phosphates, sulphur, and carbon, aid this process. These binders are then mixed with the soil and other sediments in the oil. However, a significant drawback of this method you should be aware of is that achieving a uniform and complete mixture is sometimes challenging. Nonetheless, this technology is ideal for shallow or surface deposits of the oil.

Chemical Oxidation

This technique encompasses reactions, which chemically convert hazardous oil components to less toxic or non-hazardous compounds that are less mobile and more stable. This means that the oil will not seep further into the soil and can be degraded using oxidants such as hydrogen peroxide and sodium or potassium permanganate. The type of the delivery system you select will depend on the contaminants' depth, the physical state of the oxidants, and the rate of decomposition. Augers and trenchers can work well with solid and liquid oxidants into your contaminated soils.