I live in Oregon where it is required that residential underground oil tanks
that are no longer in operation must be tested for ground leakage prior to
the sale of a home.
I own a duplex that has two such oil tanks(I put in gas furnaces about 15
I had both tanks drained by a company that offered that service. I did not
"decommission the tanks" by either (a) having the tanks removed from the
ground and the surrounding soil tested for oil contamination or (b) having
the tops of the tanks cut off and a slurry put in that hardens into a cement
like substance and having the surrounding soil tested for oil contamination.
My plan was to live in this place till I died and because my property is on
a raised lot, it would have been virtually impossible(and very expensive) to
get any power digging equipment up here.
But of course plans change(I recently became married) and now plan to move.
Is there a way that I can personally test the ground around the tanks to
determine if there in fact has been any leakage that would show up as ground
You must be in the US. In Canada (where I am) decomission means clean
out, removal and soil testing by a certified company while being
monitored by a government official. Far cry from years ago when the
home owner pumped it out, filled it with sand and cut the filler neck
off below grade.
I'm in Vermont, I removed a 1000 gal inground oil tank about 2 yrs ago. It
was not a big deal, the state was easy to deal with and even had grant money
to offset the cost. (not for me tho too much income) I paid an enviromental
engineer to watch the removal and test the soil and write me a letter. I cut
up the tank after cleaning it out and took it to the scrap yard, no hazmat
no special landfill.
Ck with your state encon and see what they have to say it might not be that
bad. My costs were about $600 most of that for the engineer.
You duck a lot of regulations by being residential.
you must have them properly removed or made safe. meeting all the EPA
guidelines and such today.
now you could remove evidence they existed, but are leaving yourself
at great risk for a lawsuit.
imagine you sell the place without disclosing the tanks
you sell the home, and 6 monhs, or even 5 years later the new owner or
subsquent owner stumbles onto the tank. perhaps the ground settles
there? or someone decides to plant a tree, and hits a old line or
YOU the seller who didnt disclose the tanks existence are now liable
for ALL clean up and removal costs by licensed bonded haz matt
company, and all the appropiate tests, costs, inspections and fees.
heck they can even go after your heirs, if you arent around anymore.
if you disclose the tank no buyer will be able to get homeowners
insurance so the home cant sell.
your far better off getting this fixed now, and done right.
heck the oid tank must be taken to a EPA approved landfill. $$$$ r EPA
so how did the tank get installed originally? if power equiptement was
used for install it can probably be used for removal.
plus perhaps a small machine can get up there.
Be very careful!
The OP is probably better off to get the tank removed kinda DIY.
If the tank was pumped out originally little oil should remain.
Plus if some had leaked natural soil bugs eat oil....
chances are very good theres no big hazard,.
get a smaller machine, remove tanks, clean, cut up and sell the scrap.
remove any contaminated soil. fill hole plant grass and forget about
you can do what you want, till you put the home on the market.
once the for sale sign goes up theres a million rules and costs to
it will still be there MUST be disclosed at sale time or risk large
expensive lawsuit perhaps years later.
a neighbor knew she had a bad sewer line, plumbers had snaked it. lady
sold home and didnt disclose bad line.
new owner had sewer backup, happened to call a plumber who had been
out before for old owner.
new owner sued, got new sewer line, wall rebuild, driveway replacement
plus legal fees.....
recently found out that mistake cost old owner 15 grand, home had sold
for a 100 grand, common price for pittsburgh area. homes cheap here
dont risk such a chance, having tank filled with concrete removed will
no doubt cost more, than having empty tank removed.
if you doubt what i tell you just ask any lawyer............
danger isnt just tank collapse, and municipality may have record of
Yes, I agree. The first thing to do is contact the local municipal
officials which can point him in the right direction as to what the
specific regulations are. Then he can decide if he can and/or wants
to do some of the work himself. I would expect that by now, just
about anywhere there will be a requirement that it be inspected/tested/
certified by an independent licensed authority.
I don't know what the current reqt is here in NJ, but in the 90's you
could have the tank tested and if it was certified to not be leaking,
then the top could be cut out, the remaining oil/sludge removed, and
the tank filled in and left there.
There is no good way to avoid this. Whatever it costs, you're better
off doing it the right way while you control the process. If you do
something half-assed, don't disclose that you have a tank, etc, and
sell it, you're open for a lot of trouble. As hallerb points out, if
the buyers find out about it later, they will likely have a good case
to come back after you later. Here in NJ the seller must fill out a
disclosure form at time of sale that asks questions about a lot of
things, including whether there is/was an oil tank on the property.
I wouldn't worry about it being on a spot that's hard to get eqpt
into. Even if they have to be dug out by hand, it still can be done
at reasonable cost. The big bucks come in if upon testing they find
the ground is contaminated. Then all bets are off.
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