I have a rough idea of what it costs to have an underground oil tank from a
residential property when it is not leaking and there are no complications.
I also hear horror stories of it sometimes costing many thousands of dollars
when the tank was found to have leaked (stories like 50K, 75K, or even
more). I know that it costs a lot more when a leaking tank is near a house
or structure that needs to be jacked up or supported so contaminated dirt
can be excavated from underneath and around the structure.
My real question is, if an underground oil tank on a residential property
needs to be removed, and it is found to have been leaking, -- and it is NOT
near any structures and is out in the open -- is the cost of removal more or
less self-limiting? In other words, is it mostly the cost of removing the
tank and removing and disposing of the contaminated dirt around it, and then
refilling the hole with clean soil? If so, would a situation like that tend
NOT to cost in the 10's of thousands of dollars, and be more like under 10K
to get the job done?
You'd be wise to ask some folks in City Hall about the rules and
regulations as they apply in your locality. A call to your state EPA
would also be a good move. Then when you talk to excavators or removal
firms, you will be able to determine who are the competent ones and
which are flim-flam artists. With respect to your price concerns, a
straightforward removal should be well under $10K. If it takes a two
man operation two days at $200 an hour, you're out $6400. IMO a small
backhoe and truck should be in that ballpark most places. With
construction work getting slow as it is, negotiate well and it will
work out. Good luck,
Unless you're in Manhattan I can't imagine a simple job costing more
than a couple thousand. But there can be so many mitigating factors
that asking folks on a newsgroup who don't know where you live and
can't see the local conditions is kinda like asking 'how much does a
Also check your state tax code. NY has offered a tax rebate of
several hundred dollars for removal/replacement of residential oil
tanks. They've done it at least twice in the last decade for a
couple years at a time.
Before anyone thinks they can remove an oil tank without any permits
and make it go away, they should consider the disclosure laws for the
state they live in. Many states have real estate disclosure laws and
specific check list forms which must be filled out by the seller prior
to sale. So, if you remove a tank without the proper permits and
procedures, the next step in many states would be that you have to lie
about it when you sell the property. Also, it's customary today for
many buyers and mortgage companies to ask specific questions about
whether the property ever had an oil tank. And if you lie about it
you open yourself up to not only civil suit from the new owner, but
potential fines and action from the state/municipality. If the tank
is not leaking, the proper and legal removal process is not all that
expensive and is the right thing to do.
To answer the OP's question, which no one here has really addressed,
in the case of a tank removal where it has been leaking, but a
structure isn;t involved, it still could cost in the tens of thousands
of dollars. It all depends on how much oil has leaked out and the
extent of the resulting cleanup. That could be anything from a
couple trucks of dirt for a small leak, which probably would be under
10K, to many loads followed by groundwater pumping and cleansing,
etc. if the plume has spread and even worse if it's spread to a
neighbors property, etc.
It would be a cold day in hell if I payed tens of thousands of dollars
for something that somebody else put into the ground. If it was
disclosed by the prior owner then it's up to the buyer to have it
removed by the seller before accepting a contract. As a matter of fact I
think it's the real estate brokers responsibility to see that these
things get done.
Yes and no.
I had a tank removed by an environmental services company. One of the
soil samples taken from below the tank indicated minor leakage. A
test of the well water came back clean. The information was submitted
to the state EPA who decided no action needed to be taken. Case
closed, oil tank gone, and I have the paperwork to show that it was
done right. (This all cost $1500 or $2000 - don't remember which.)
But, what if there'd been oil in the well water? How can that be
cleaned up for any price?
The guy who did the work told me about one of the local oil suppliers
who somehow dumped 500 gallons of fuel oil into somebody's backyard.
The cleanup cost was so high that the oil company ended up buying the
Research your local regulations. My state has a fund that reimburses
homeowners for heating oil tank cleanup costs. You might find
something like that. The government really doesn't want to bankrupt
homeowners. They're after the big offenders - the gas stations that
pump thousands of gallons of fuel into the groundwater.
Why not dig it up yourself? (Of course get proper permits, etc.) Might take
several months, but do a little work each day. You will feel fit and trim by
the time this project is done!
P.S. Might want to wait until spring if you live up north!
Thanks all for your ideas and suggestions. I'm on the East coast where
permits, testing, etc. are required for underground tank removal and no one
even dreams about taking tanks out on their own.
I was mostly wondering what the general maximum exposure might be if an
underground tank was removed and was found to have leaked, but was not near
any structures. Apparently, the cost "could" turn out to be very high if
the leak spread to any underground water supply.
When I lived in Levittown, PA the oil delivery company insured the
furnace and the underground tank fairly cheap. The policy included an
annual cleaning and 'tune up' of the furnance. There was an
inspection required to start the policy but it was only a visual of
the furnace to make sure it was not 'modified' and putting a stick in
the tank to check for water.
Luckily I never needed to test the warranty on the tank but it
included all removal costs including cleanup.
Disclaimer, the Levittown houses are all slab houses so no structural
concerns and it was PA so not CA wanna be laws like NJ, NY, etc.
I would start with your oil company, they probably have the most
experience with your area.
In my state (VA), a homeowner can remove an underground oil tank on
their own. A permit is required. A visual inspection is required. A
soil test is -not- required.
If you call a professional, all of the above is required plus a soil
Since what you don't know probably isn't going to hurt you, there is
some incentive to DIY.
I am an oil tank contractor on the East Coast. If you are within my
territory, an oil tank decomission cost starts at around $ 1,050.00
There are other incidental costs such as permits costs and disposal
fees. The name of my company is MH Tank Co Inc. Please feel free to
contact me. My telephone # in NJ is 973-390-5356 and my NY # is
845-544-2330 my web address is mhtank.com
Thanks. I am in Southern New Jersey. As I wrote, I do have an idea of what
a typical tank removal can cost if there is no leak. But, what I'm
wondering about is how much it could end up costing if a tank is not located
near a building but is found to have leaked when it is removed. Can you
post any information about what your experience has been in terms of the
cost when tanks that you removed turned out to have leaked? I know you
can't say for sure without seeing each specific situation, but I do hear
stories every so often about the cost being 50K or more once a tank has
I'm a little skeptical of anyone who says they will do it for free...
there are a lot of costs associated with it, especially if it is an
ISRA issue in NJ. I work in this industry too. We'll be happy to
answer your questions if you call! We're at 723-384-9506, and a
http://www.bluestonecorp.net/UST.html . Good luck!
the company gets paid from state grant money or a loan if the
homeowner doesnt qualify for the grant.
program makes sense better to remove old tanks properly rather than
DIY folks mucking around filling a rustingf tank half full of oil with
concrete, making clean up much worse and contaminating ground water
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.