Underground Oil Tanks: Get Rid of Them!

Underground Oil Tanks: Get Rid of Them!

In the current real estate market, I would strongly recommend to any property owner, if they have not already done so, to remove their underground oil tank. The presence of an underground oil tank can kill a deal.

The longer the tank stays underground, the more likely that it will eventually leak.

You can either pull the tank or properly abandon it.  Due to a tank’s location, there are times when the tank cannot be pulled without causing damage to the home’s foundation, a significant tree, or other structure. In these circumstances, the local fire marshal may very well allow for the underground oil tank to be properly abandoned.

You should hire an experienced company licensed by the state in which the property and underground oil tank is located. When pulling an underground oil tank, the company will proceed as follows: the company will cut an opening at the top of the tank in order to obtain access to empty the tank, an individual will climb into the tank and wipe the interior clean. After, the tank will be pulled from the ground.  The tank will also be inspected for any evidence of holes.  If there is an active leak, the company is required to contact the local fire marshal and state authority. A governmental official will come to the property to observe the leak and make recommendations. The contaminated tank and soil will be removed from the property and brought to a facility licensed to accept contaminated soil, and a bill of lading will be issued for the amount (in tons) of contaminated soil taken to the facility.  The soil will continue to be removed until the test results come in below the allowable amount.  Soil test samples are usually taken from the 4 walls of the tank and the center of the tank gravesite.

Oil Tank 1

The above is a description of when a tank is pulled from the property. The following is the process followed to abandon a tank properly. The contractor will cut a 2×2 square in the top exterior of the tank. The tank will be emptied and wiped clean as mentioned above. The soil is tested under the tank, and at various points around the tank. The tank is then filled with a substance approved by the local fire marshal that will prevent the tank from floating or collapsing with time. Soil is then placed over the site, and the area is usually seeded.

The underground pipe from the tank to the furnace into the house should be also be removed – insist on it.

Paperwork regarding the removal and soil tests should be filed with the local fire marshal or building department depending on the local municipalities rules.

Some municipalities may require a permit to remove and replace. Check the rules, as you, the property owner, are responsible for the permits – not the contractor. Call your local building department and fire marshal and find out.

Keep a record of everything.  I would strongly recommend to my clients NOT to buy a home with an underground oil tank and to insist on its removal/proper abandonment prior to purchasing.

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