Many older homes and buildings have underground tanks used to store oil for heating. All underground storage tanks have a limited lifespan and will corrode and leak eventually depending upon the age of the tank and the conditions of the ground where the tank is buried. Whether you intend on selling a home or a commercial property almost all mortgage companies now require that any underground tanks on the property are removed, and if the tank is found to have leaked that all the contaminated soil is excavated and disposed of, eliminating any future liability for the new owner.
The process of removing an underground storage tank is fairly straightforward:
- The municipal permits are obtained by a fully licensed NJDEP UST closure contractor
- A utility mark out is called in by the contractor,
- The contractor mobilizes to the site with their crew and equipment
- The contractor neatly saw cuts the sidewalk, driveway or parking lot when necessary to expose the top of the tank or just simply dig in the grass or yard.
- Leftover tank contents are pumped out by a vac truck when needed or just placed into 55-gallon drums when just a small amount
- The tank is cut open and the sludge at the bottom is cleaned out and placed into a 55-gallon drum
- The tank is removed from the excavation and place on top of the ground next to the hole
- The township inspector arrives to inspect the tank to make sure there are no holes and the soil where the tank had been to make sure there is no sign of oil and determines if the inspection is passed or failed
- Passing inspection – the contractor fills the excavation with certified clean fill and restores the lawn, sidewalk, driveway or parking lot.
- Failing inspection – a DEP Case is opened, a subsurface evaluator or LSRP is brought out to the site, makes a determination of how much soil needs to be excavated and stockpiled onto plastic and takes soil samples from the sides and bottom of the hole. If the results come back clean, the project will finish by loading out the stockpiled soil into a truck to be disposed of at a state-approved facility and finishing by restoring the lawn, sidewalk, driveway or parking lot.
As you can see, a failed inspection is a much more complicated proposition than passing is and is quite a bit more costly too. Sometimes when a tank has been left in the ground too long and has corroded it can leak for years which can result in a large quantity of soil that needs to be disposed of or leaking below the foundation of the home or building, or onto a neighboring property or into the groundwater. Any of these scenarios can add up some costly bills.
Removing an underground tank that is on your property before it’s too late can eliminate a potentially very expensive liability while simultaneously increasing your property’s value, allowing you to sell quicker and easier than a competitive property that still has their tank in the ground.
When is a good time to remove an underground storage tank?
Anytime you can get the tank out of the ground before it corrodes and leaks into the soil or groundwater is the best time to remove the tank. If your furnace or boiler fueled by heating oil is at the end of its life span, that too is the perfect time to switch to natural gas when possible or add an above-ground tank outside on a concrete pad or inside in the basement. Removing the tank and eliminating liability and an expensive clean-up is in your best financial interest, always.