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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498

Date: December 12, 2013


Many Delawareans have used fuel oil for years to heat their homes without ever having a spill, but homes occasionally become contaminated. Heating equipment and delivery problems are the main causes of spills, but there are other causes of contaminated properties. For example, flood waters containing fuel oil contaminated a number of yards and houses in Delaware as a result of recent hurricanes, tropical storms, and winter storms.

Home heating oil is also called fuel oil or "number 2" fuel oil. Most oil-heated homes have tanks in the basement. Potential exposure and clean-up depends on whether contamination effects the soil, groundwater or indoor air, and how much contamination is present.

Vapors and odors from heating oil are less toxic than gasoline, but can be very unpleasant. Individual reactions vary, but can include headaches, nausea, dizziness, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat after breathing vapors. Skin contact can cause a mild irritation. These symptoms are not long-lasting and typically go away as the odor decreases.



If You Smell Oil Or See Standing Oil - Report It!

A licensed environmental contractor may be needed if fuel oil has soaked into the soil, entered groundwater, or a large amount has been spilled. DNREC can provide guidance on the type of work you will need. If the person or company causing the contamination can be identified, they may be legally responsible for covering the costs of clean-up.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.