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Realtor, sellers sued over alleged oil tank contamination at Burnaby property

Xiao Li Chen says she paid more than $500K to clean up contamination she claims came from an underground fuel oil tank at a property she bought on Holmes Street. Now she's suing her real estate agent and the couple who sold her the house.
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This east Burnaby house at 9175 Holmes St. is at the centre of a lawsuit over contamination that allegedly came from an underground fuel tank.

The former owner of a Burnaby house is suing her real estate agent and the couple who sold her the house over an old underground fuel tank she claims contaminated her property and the property next door.

Xiao Li Chen paid more than $500,000 to investigate and clean up petroleum hydrocarbons at 9175 Holmes St. and at the property next door, according to a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court earlier this month.

Chen claims the source of the hydrocarbons was a fuel oil tank that had been removed from the property in 1990 before she bought it.

Besides having to pay for its investigation and remediation, Chen says the contamination took a chunk out of the market value of the property, which she bought in October 2022 for $1.37 million and sold in January 2023 for $1.165 million, according to the claim.

She is now suing her real estate agent, Raffi Antepyan, and agency, Re/Max, for breach of contract, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.

Chen says Antepyan and Re/Max “breached the express or implied terms of the Realtor contract” by not acting in her best interest, not advising her to get copies of all records associated with the tank, not advising her to do an environmental inspection, and not including a provision in the contract that would protect her from possible future costs associated with the old tank.

“If the plaintiff had been made aware of the contamination prior to entering into the property contract, she would not have agreed to purchase the property from the sellers on the terms set out in the property contract,” states the claim.

Chen is suing Antepyan and Re/Max for damages, the cost of investigating and cleaning up the contamination, and the loss of market value for the property.

Chen is also suing Arthur and Sue Anne Clarke, who owned the property before she bought it and who had had the old tank removed more than 30 years earlier, according to the claim.

Along with damages, Chen is asking the court to declare 9175 Holmes St. and the neighbouring property contaminated sites under the Environmental Management Act and to declare the Clarkes responsible persons, who would then be retroactively liable for the cost of dealing with the contamination.

Chen’s allegations have not been proven in court.

None of the defendants has yet filed a response to the claim.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
Email cnaylor@burnabynow.com