Here’s a scenario that can keep many upstate homeowners up at night. You recently had your 500-gallon underground oil tank filled, but now your furnace seems to be on the blink or you find you’re filling your tank up more often than usual. When you call for help, you discover that the tank has a leak, and all of that oil is seeping into the ground—and fast. Now you’re faced with an environmental emergency on top of the unexpected expense of cleaning it all up.
Who do you call? Or, even more importantly, what can you do to prevent an oil tank crisis?
Optima Environmental Services (OES) in Newburgh is the one-stop environmental services company ready and able to take on the task. “Our focus is heating oil tank installation, removal, and (when needed) remediation,” says Joseph Linksman, vice president of OES.
OES opened up shop on Stewart Avenue in Newburgh in 2015, after acquiring another company that had served the area for decades. “When we started our company, we acquired the equipment, expertise, skills, and knowledge of one that had worked here since 1932,” says Linksman. Today, OES provides services to all of New York, as well as parts of Connecticut and Pennsylvania. “But our focus is local and our primary service areas are Dutchess, Putnam, Orange, Ulster, Sullivan, Westchester, Rockland, Columbia, and Greene Counties,” he says.
For homeowners faced with the upkeep of an aging underground oil tank, OES strongly recommends removing the tank before it can cause a problem. “If you have an oil tank underground, eventually it’s going to leak,” Linksman says. That’s because as the metal tank comes into contact with elements naturally present in soil, the tank will oxidize and break down. “It’s a costly and expensive process to clean that up,” he says. “Our mission is to remove these underground oil tanks before they cause problems for our customers and the environment.”
But Linksman also has his fair share of remediation stories. For homeowners living in the Hudson Valley—with its many environmentally sensitive areas and protected parks and reservoirs—a leak into your yard can be just the start of your problems. “The worst-case scenario is if a customer had an oil tank leak underground,” Linksman says. “Once oil enters the environment, it can spread quickly.”
In those cases, OES’s first job is to contain the spill. “We have a 24/7 rapid-response team that uses specialized equipment and materials to establish the spill parameter,” Linksman explains. “Then we find a path forward to remediate the spill according to requirements set down by the Department of Environmental Conservation [DEC]. When there are environmental impacts, we have the team and equipment to excavate to remove the contaminated soil.”
For homeowners who are considering selling their house, OES advises removing the underground oil tank first, since many buyers would prefer not to deal with them at all. “We recommend that if you’re selling, you’ve got to yank that tank,” says Linksman, “And if you’re buying a home, you’ve got to know if there’s a storage tank underground.”
Despite having just a couple dozen employees, OES has big responsibilities. Gas stations, schools, police departments, and fire departments all over the region put their trust in the company, so homeowners can rest assured that the team has the know-how to handle any residential situation that arises. “Our commercial customers rely on us to maintain their oil tanks, so we’ve built a trust factor,” says Linksman. “Our focus is always on one thing: prevention of petroleum-based spills. By keeping our customers’ properties in compliance, Optima is doing it’s part to protect the environment in the communities we live in.”