Curren Environmental Blog

How to remove an oil tank.

Posted by David C Sulock on Nov 5, 2018 10:14:32 AM

 

How to remove an oil tank.

The northeast United States has a long history of oil heat. Oil tanks were commonly used starting in the early 1900s until the 1980s The EPA was not formed until 1970, so oil tanks and environmental regulations did not grow up together.  Today the liability of oil tank leaks is well known and both buyers and sellers

The concern regarding an oil tank is any tank has a chance to leak. If a tank leaks, there can be a cleanup expense involved. This expense falls upon the owner of the property at the time of discovery. Try selling a house with an oil tank and learn that the buyers want a home not an oil tank leak. The fact is a new tank today has a 10-year warranty (yes there are tanks with longer warranties, but those are quite expensive), so nearly all tanks in use today have reached what would be considered a reasonable life expectancy. Couple that with the fact that if your tank is leaking, it most commonly happens along the very bottom of the tank where the most corrosion occurs, so you would never actually detect that the tank is leaking. Quite frankly, no tank owner is going to miss drips of oil from a tank.

 

Heating oil tank systems new jersey

 

So, you have an old tank, a house you want to sell and a dilemma, do you remove the tank like a proactive reasonable person would do, or do you stick your feet in the sand and sell the house as is? Well rest assured your buyer has read this web site, or their attorney, or realtor has and they know the issues with oil tanks. We find a sale has to fall through 3 times or the house has to be on the market for 6 months or more before the seller accepts the fact that an oil tank is not as appealing as walk in closets and an open floor plan, buyers will take a hard pass.

So now the tank owner is looking to have the tank removed. A little internet search or a reference from someone leads them to a company happy to remove the tank. Cheapest price, absolutely that is what they want. Does the removal company even discuss the possible outcomes of the tank leaking? No they don't, they don't want to scare you and quite frankly you don't want to be scared, you're a tank expert, you know your tank isn't leaking and hey oil comes from the ground and you're pretty good about recycling so you're a green person.

Let me point out some pitfalls about removing your oil tank.

The cheapest price includes the worst service and you will wind up paying more in the end, 90% of the time. The cheap person wants to find a leaking tank because that is where the big costs are. Read the tank contract, it will be brief, but it needs to include the following and most will not.  We know this as we get many phone calls from people complaining about the firm that removed their oil tank.

Soil Sampling

You think you do not want it, but the buyer wants to know if the tank leaked how you know 100% is via soil testing. Like cholesterol, you do not know the levels unless you test.

You should always include sample acquisition and analysis with a tank removal. Samples on average cost $120.00 each or $240.00 on most tank removal sites. This is cheaper to do when you are on site to remove the tank. If you have to go back to the site and drill to obtain soil samples expect it to cost thousands. Sampling is even more important when a tank sweep is performed and a tank is found on a site, meaning, a tank that was not in use and not known to exist.

Hole found in the tank

Let us agree that things are not made to last forever, things wear out, is it really a shock to remove an oil tank that is 20, 30, 40, 50 years old and find a hole in it. I mean is that out of the realm of possibility? If you were not informed of this possibility, be prepared to be taken advantage of, tank leaks, not all of them but some. To manage expectations the company that removes your tank should explain what will happen if your tank does or does not leak. To be clear if there are holes in the tank, the local construction office will flag the tank as leaking and have you report the leak to the state. The reason being a hole in a tank is reasonable cause to believe that the tank leaked. So now, you are tasked with proving it did not leak or does not need remediation. In the meantime, the tank removal company will be giving you a quote that is many times more expensive to remediate the leak.

 

2018-06-27 10.16.15

 

The tank had holes and you are told you must remediate.

If a tank leak is found you MUST test to see if levels are above or below standard.  If you do not test than it is going to be assumed you must remediate, prepare to open your checkbook.

If you have a tank leak and you test and oil levels are so high that you need to remediate then your next real step is to define the area requiring remediation, this is called delineation.

Delineation is meant to define the area of contamination (and verify that contamination exists). Smaller areas are faster and less expensive to define, larger areas take longer. Larger areas can extend across property boundaries and below structures, which can require overcoming access issues regarding sampling these areas. The first step which maybe the only step required is sampling immediately around the tank area.

 

1-888-301-1050

Tank Closure Report

Did you know that commercial tanks all require a report to be submitted to the state to document the work? Why, the state wants to know if the tank leaked. Therefore, every company is used to completing reports of tank removal work. Clearly, any tank raises questions with owners/purchasers of a property, so why wouldn't you want a report of removal? You do and you should have a report, when contract. These reports explain the work in laymans terms regarding the tank work and if there was a leak, it will also outline why you do or do not need remediation. Having a report documenting that a removed tank did not leak is an important document to have.

Bottom line, every tank needs a report documenting removal. Be it a leaking tank or a non leaker, if your contract makes no reference to any report,  I wouldn't sign it.

Curren has completed thousands of tanks, one month we completed closure on 129 tanks. That said, we do not remove every tank in the tri-state area, but we get calls from property owners who hired someone else to remove their tank and they feel like they are being treated unfairly. Meaning they were unprepared to find that the tank leaked. In practice, I don't expect a property owner who has never removed an oil tank and never will again to be all knowing about the tank removals and tank leaks, but I expect the company performing the work to know and to clearly explain the process and the scenarios you can encounter.

The follow exert is from a tank removal contact from a company I would have run away from. Give it a quick read:

  • Obtain necessary permit from municipality
  • Phone in utility mark out to NJ One Call
  • Excavate to expose tank
  • Remove overburden soil covering UST
  • Remove and dispose of concrete adjacent to UST.
  • Saw cut the UST to allow for hand cleaning
  • Properly clean the UST interior
  • Remove the UST, and dispose of at a properly facility

This scope assumes the tank is not leaking. Bottom line the scope they gave was not meant to really satisfy you if the tank leaked, which was clearly a possibility. They don't even include soil sampling or a report so if the tank doesn't leak you don't get a report saying so. If the tank did leak, no sampling is include, which is so wrong, you need to test as every state allows a permissible amount of oil to remain, like cholesterol there are good and bad levels.  How else do you know if you need to remediate?

We can only hope you are reading this before you get your tank removed. If so, call our office you will walk away a lot more informed and better prepared to manage this project. If you are calling after your tank was removed and it leaked, call us, we can discuss your options. Most leaking tanks will require the contamination to be delineated, which we do. We can define your problem, develop costs to remediate as well as data to you that you can solicit other quotes for remediation.

 

Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm   888-301-1050

 

Tags: NJDEP HOTS, oil tank, oil tank removal nj, oil tank removal

Is my residential heating oil tank regulated in New Jersey?

Posted by david sulock on Sep 25, 2018 8:43:32 AM

Is my residential heating oil tank regulated in New Jersey?

 

Heating oil tanks are unregulated by the NJDEP in New Jersey as they used to be called UHOTs (Unregulated heating oil tanks).   Work performed on abandoning an oil tank is governed by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Bulletin No.: 95-1B. Discharges or leaks from these tanks are regulated by the  Department of Environmental Protection’s Unregulated Heating Oil Tank (UHOT) Program.

 NJ oil tank removal

Let us not get ahead of ourselves.  First, to work on a heating oil tank in New Jersey you must be licensed by the NJDEP. The NJDEP certifies individuals and firms that perform services on unregulated heating oil tanks.  To be technical, N.J.A.C. 7:14B defines unregulated heating oil tanks as, “any one or combination of tanks, including appurtenant pipes, lines, fixtures, and other related equipment, used to contain an accumulation of heating oil for on-site consumption in a residential building, or those tanks with a capacity of 2,000 gallons or less used to store heating oil for on-site consumption in a nonresidential building.”

To say it in English and following a federal definition, an underground storage tank is defined as a tank the volume of which, including the volume of the appurtenant pipes, lines, fixtures and other related equipment, is 10 percent or more below the ground.

It is generally recommended that if you own out-of-service underground heating oil tank, it is a good practice to remove the tank.   Takes removed from service such as during gas conversions, rarely ever get placed back into service.   Tanks older than 20 to 30 years are also recommended to be removed as nothing lasts forever. Although tank abandonment is allowed, there has been an increase in previously abandoned tanks being removed. These tank removals are driven by insurance and mortgage companies that do not want the liability associated with underground heating oil tanks, as these tanks can leak and remediation can be thousands of dollars.   

 Tank previously abandoned in place with sand

New Jersey has construction codes and The Uniform Construction Code (UCC) covers oil tanks, but this code is not a retrofit code, and therefore, it does not deal with tanks that have been abandoned for extended periods of time. The UCC applies when a tank is taken out of service as part of a construction project or when the tank has become unsafe. If a project results in an underground tank being out of service for a period of one year, (such as an oil to gas conversion), as per Section 5704.2.13.1.3 of the International Fire Code (IFC), the tank must be removed from the ground in accordance with Section 5704.2.14 of the IFC or abandoned in place in accordance with Section 5704.2.13.1.4 of the IFC. If an aboveground tank is out of service for a period of one year, as per Section 5704.13.2.3 of the IFC, the tank shall be removed in accordance with Section 5704.2.14 of the code.

An oil to gas conversion is an example where a construction activity can trigger the need to address the oil tank.  In this case, the local code officials must ensure that the tank is properly removed or abandoned in connection with the conversion.*

 oil to gas conversion

* The only exception to this would be where the owner can demonstrate a legitimate continued use of the tank.

 

The removal or abandonment of a tank requires an application for and the issuance of a demolition permit regardless of whether it is in connection with other related work. In short, if you are removing or abandoning an oil tank you need a permit.

 

Oil tank removal and abandonment inspections are the responsibility of the of the fire sub-code official as per the IFC, Section 5704.2.13, fuel oil storage systems, as referenced by the International Mechanical Code (Section 1301.5) and the International Residential Code (Section M2201.7). Per N.J.A.C. 5:23-3.4.

 

Proper Abandonment Procedures are detailed in the International Fire Code, Section 5704.2.13.1.4, the American Petroleum Institute (API) Bulletin 1604, and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 30 Annex C relating to the abandonment of underground storage tanks. These documents, which detail procedures for tank abandonment are followed by New Jersey’s applicable regulation as listed in N.J.A.C. 5:23-3.6.

 

Tank Leak Assessment

The construction regulations are not clear regarding who, what, when or how the assessment of a tank for leaks is performed as it is generally not considered a construction activity.  The construction regulations do define that WHEN contamination is found it is to be reported to the NJDEP hotline at 877-927-6337 (877-WARN-DEP).  This is the bear trap owners of tanks face when a tank is removed.  NJDEP regulations chapter 26F HEATING OIL TANK SYSTEM REMEDIATION RULES  Statutory Authority N.J.S.A. 13:1D-9, 58:10-23.11 et seq., 58:10A-1 et seq., 58:10A-21 et seq., 58:10A-37.1 et seq., 58:10B-1 et seq., and 58:10C-1 et seq.  Date last amended August 6, 2018, state that:

 

"Upon discovery of a discharge, the owner shall immediately notify the Department by calling the Department Hotline at 1-877-WARNDEP (1-877-927-6337)."

Therefore, under the NJDEP requirements the owner upon discovering a tank leak must notify the NJDEP spill hotline.

residential oil tank leak

 

Construction Permit Approval

 

The most misunderstood part of the tank closure process is the sign off from the local municipality.  As per the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Bulletin No.: 95-1B after tank has been removed and properly disposed of, and the excavation is filled with certified clean material, a certificate of approval can be issued by the local construction office and the permit can be closed out.    So once you follow the construction procedures the township can close the permit, if the tank leaked or not.  Again once, you remove and backfill the tank, the municipality is done with their job. Any remediation activity, including the removal of contaminated soil, will then proceed through the Department of Environmental Protection’s Unregulated Heating Oil Tank (UHOT) Program.

Does all this sound confusing?  It should not but it does and the layperson should not be expected to know these procedures or regulations but they are subject to them.

If you want clear-cut answers, call Curren we have been performing tank closures for over 20 years.   Thousands of completed tank projects have made us de facto experts on tanks.

 

1-888-301-1050

Tags: oil tank, oil tank removal nj, oil tank removal, oil tank removal new jersey, NJ HOTS

7 Things I wish I knew before I removed my oil tank.

Posted by david sulock on Jul 25, 2018 9:11:47 AM

 A construction permit is required and it can take up to 20 business days to get the permit, which is a month.

 I thought that my out of use tank could remain where it was buried.  Nope, the buyer of my house needed a mortgage and to get the mortgage to buy my house, the tank had to be removed. Their attorney also advised that it be removed.   Yep found this out 9 days before settlement.  Did not know the tank removal permit took weeks to get.   Settlement eventually happened but it was 4 weeks later.

 

home tank removal

 

A tank removal report is important.

Had my tank removed no leaks.  Listed house for sale, buyer wanted proof that the tank did not leak.  I had a copy of the contract for the removal and I had a paid tank removal invoice, that was not enough,. The company I hired to remove the oil tank did not give me a report.  Stupid me the contract for removal did not include a report.   I had to pay another company to dig up the old tank grave, test the soils, and give me a report that the tank did not leak.  Apparently, buyers want 100% confirmation that the tank did not leak.  I mean it makes sense you want a report of the tank removal if you are buying a house, but why didn’t the tank removal company tell me that or give me one? 

Tank removal soil sampling is really important.

I was told I did not have to soil test when the tank is removed.  Apparently, testing is not required by law.  Well I removed the tank and it leaked and the immediate diagnosis was $10,000.00 to $15,000.00 to remediate the leak.  When I mean immediate, I mean I had an estimate to clean up the tank leak 2 days after the tank was removed.   I ultimately fired the tank removal company and hired another company.  The new company told me that you could not conclude 100% if remediation is necessary without soil testing.   Bottom line I got the soil tested, yes there was oil; no, it was not enough oil to demand remediation.  Saved the $10,000.00.  Couldn’t the company tell me that testing while not required is worth it if the tanks appears to have leaked.

Not all oil leaks mean you have to remediate.

As I learned, a hole in a tank only means that the company that removed the tank is going to give me an expensive quote to clean up the oil.  Apparently there are legal amounts of oil that can remain in the ground, kind of like good and bad cholesterol, but you would never know unless you test.

 

Holes in oil tank, but oil in bottom of tank

How excited the tank removal company crew would become after they removed my tank and found out it was leaking.

Got my oil tank removed, took the day off from work. The whole thing was very stressful as I bought the house with a sand filed tank and now 10 years later I am selling the house and the buyers want the tank removed.   When the tank was removed and I saw holes in the tank, my heart sank.  The mood of the tank workers was elevated when they saw the holes in the tank   You would think the Philadelphia Eagles won a 2nd super bowl.   I feel like they were leading me down a path to spend money I didn’t plan for or have.   Look I understand tank leaks but I was never told about what happens when a tank leaks.  It was upsetting that they were happy for by problems.

Getting something in writing is really important.

I hired a tank company to do my tank removal.  They talked a good game and had a very good price.   They had a 2-page proposal, it was brief and somewhat vague now that I think about it.  Well when I found out my tank leaked soil testing which I thought was done or would be done (we did speak about it) was not done.  They actually took a soil sample but it was not for determining if the oil level in the ground was legal it for the disposal of the soil.  I was presumed guilty.    I was more than a little miffed; I didn’t want to pay the bill until I got a report of removal.  I didn’t get that either.  I complained to an attorney who reviewed my 2-page quote.  I was told if it is not in the contract the company doesn’t have to do it.  So, I got no testing and no report, but I was told I would if in the small chance my oil tank leaked.   It was a case of he said she said, the attorney agreed it was deceptive but not worth the money to go after legally.

The cheapest price is not the best.

I figured a tank is a tank is a tank, so a tank removal is a tank removal.  I picked the least expensive company.  I thought I compared apples to apples and was picking the shiniest apple.  Well my tank leaked and I was up charged more than 5 times what the cost to remove the tank was.    What I learned from one of the tank company workers who needed to use my bathroom was the company doesn’t make money removing oil tanks.  The cleanup is much more profitable and their goal is to get as many tank removal projects  as possible, which increases their odds of finding a leaking tank.   They are supposed to call the office once they know a tank leaked, I guess to toast to their good fortune but not mine.

These seven snippets of experiences all came from clients of Curren who had their tank removed by another company.

Do something once and you are a novice.

Do something twice, well you are not a pro but you know more than you did the first time.

Bottom line, we have been performing tank projects for over 20 years.  Thousands of tanks tested, removed, and remediated.   Referrals are our largest source of work and we don’t advertise, no ads on the internet promoting Curren Environmental.     We do get many calls from people who after reading our web site and speaking to us wished they called us first for their tank removal.

If you have a tank and you want solid advice and your work professionally done, call our office.  We provide free consultation and estimates.  We have no sales people and 20 years of satisfied clients.  You can be the next one.

Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm   

888-301-1050

 

Tank Removal Question

 

Professional Tank Removal

 

Tags: oil tank removal pa, oil tank, tank leak, oil tank removal nj, oil tank removal, oil tank removal new jersey, tank removal

Best Oil Tank Removal

Posted by David C Sulock on Jul 16, 2018 1:31:38 PM

 

If you are involved with an oil tank removal project, it is probable your first tank removal and likely your last. The odds of you making the best decision are slim. Let’s agree that the best tank removal is one where the tank does not leak and you don’t have to remediate.

That said, you could expect a cost for tank removal on average to be about $1,500.00. This cost entails the time to get permits, equipment and labor to excavate the tank, trained personnel to cut open and clean the tank, oil recovery, tank removal, soil sampling, backfill material and labor and ultimately a report from the company so you can document the tank removal. The tank report is completed weeks after removal and is performed in an office utilizing the notes and data collected from your site. Sounds like a lot for $1,500.00, well it is.

 Best oil tank removal

Let’s talk about what makes your tank removal the best tank removal.

Your cost is close to the average cost of $1,500.00. Why, well the firm that sells these services has to do the work at a market rate where they can make money. Otherwise, they are offering the work at a loss, with the plan that they will make the money on the backend, which is the remediation and even a small remediation can cost over $5,000.00. You get what you pay for, remember that.

If you buy a house that had an oil tank, you want to know that the tank did not leak. The only way to know that is if you have testing completed. Being the owner of the tank you may think you do not want to have testing done, or else you may find a problem. After 25 years of dealing with tanks the bottom line question everyone wants to know is if the tank leaked. Buyers and sellers because that answers can make or break a real estate transaction. Bottom line tank soil samples when the tank is removed

Why do many contracts for tank removal not include soil sampling? Short answer, it is cheaper. Soil samples cost $120.00 on average and with two soil samples being the average number acquired sampling can raise the cost by $240.00, plus the time to write a report that talks about the test results. Look, you are removing an old buried metal object, you are fooling yourself if you don’t think that rust and extensively has not occurred to the tank. Your low cost tank removal company is counting on this and will be happy to give you a cost to remediate the tank once contamination is discovered.

Why do many contracts not include a report of the tank removal? Cost again is the culprit. If you write a report you need someone present during tank removal that will be taking notes, photos, soil samples and will eventually sit behind a desk to type a report. That all takes time and there is a cost involved. Bottom line make sure the contract includes a report.

Tank removal site assessment soil samples when acquired for independent laboratory analysis provides quantitative not qualitative data. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have one comparative standard for number two heating oil in soil and that is by laboratory analysis. Visual, oil water agitation or olfactory evaluations have no standards so you have no foundation to lay an opinion.

Residential tank removals do not specifically require that you obtain soil samples. This conflicts with the interest of a purchaser (mortgage or insurance underwriter) for a site when hard data is requested. Legally you do not need to test, if a buyer wants to test prior to purchase it is their due diligence and hence their cost. Obviously it is less expensive to acquire samples from an open excavation at tie of removal, as opposed to post removal and backfilling.

What is the best tank removal? The best is one where testing and a report is provided as part of the tank removal. It is what is required for commercial sites, so why wouldn’t you do the same for a residence?

 

Tank Removal Question

Tags: tank removal, oil tank removal new jersey, oil tank removal, oil tank removal nj, oil tank removal pa

How long does an Oil Tank Last?

Posted by David C Sulock on Mar 6, 2018 4:01:00 AM

What is the life expectancy of an oil tank?

How long does an oil tank last?  When do you replace an oil tank.  These are popular oil tank questions.  All things have a finite life expectancy. Both aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) and underground storage tanks (USTs) have a usable life. The problem is your tank can fail (holes appear) and you may never notice.  An industry average for the life span of an oil tank is 20 years, some tanks last longer and some shorter.  This time frame is greatly dependent on the type of oil tank, construction of the tank (meaning thicker walled tanks generally can last longer). environment the tank is in (indoor - outdoor),  and the contents of the tank.  Harsher environments tend to shorten the lifespan of pretty much anything, including steel tanks. 

 
my oil tank leaked pic2.jpg

 

When I ask people how long they think a tank is supposed to last I typically get silence or "I don’t know".   Then, I tell them thank you for not saying "Tanks last FOREVER".   A simple rule of replacement is if the roof has been replaced, so should the tank.    This is for all the people who are using a tank TODAY and if your house was built between 1950 and 1995, your tank is beyond any reasonable expectation of usable life and should be replaced.  No there is not a likely possibility that the original tank from the day your house was constructed has been replaced.  The saying 'if it isn’t broken don’t fix it' is unfortunately followed when it comes to oil tanks.   Simply put, if people replaced tanks within a reasonable amount of time, you wouldn’t have tank leaks and expensive environmental cleanups.

How do oil tanks leak?  Many oil tanks rust through from the inside out.  This most often occurs when the oil is not present, meaning upper portion of the tank where the tank is empty and the oil is not present to lubricate the steel.  Tanks can also leak due to the use of low sulfur fuel.  Heating oil tanks that have low sulfur fuel and water can allow microbial growth to occur.  Secretions from these microbes can produce acids that can corrode a steel tank.

Click Here to Learn about Testing Oil Tanks for Leaks

Aside from corrosion inside the tank, an oil tank can deteriorate from the outside due to environmental conditions.   Rust never sleeps and for corrosion to occur you need metal, oxygen and moisture.   How fast a given metal rusts is based on the environment the metal is exposed too. 

 

Holes in Underground Oil Tank

 

Aboveground oil tanks may look fine from a cursory exterior view but in fact, could heavy corroded on the inside and be ready to fail. 

Underground oil tanks are thicker than comparable aboveground tanks due to a more corrosive environment.  In short, an indoor rated AST is thinner than an outdoor rated AST, which is thinner than a buried UST.  Curren has found that there is a wide variation in indoor aboveground and outdoor aboveground oil tank life spans due to the considerable variation in both the quality and thickness of steel (older tanks seem to have been a heavier gauge steel), which helps prolong the life of the tank.

 

Tank Questions? Click Here

We have seen indoor oil tanks in good condition that are 60 years old or older, and we have found failures in newer oil storage tanks that may have been made of thinner or cheaper steel and that did not last as long as the original ones.  The tanks made immediately following WWII are of higher quality, saying things are not made as good as they used to be is a very true statement when it comes to oil tanks.

Rather than guess a tanks oil tank condition, we suggest that if your home has an older aboveground oil storage tank, twenty years old or older, you should replace the tank.  Keep in mind many brand new oil tanks have a 1 year warranty.

What Can Cause an Oil Tank To Leak?

  • Exposure of the oil storage tank to wide temperature swings, especially in cold and humid climates can increase in-tank condensation leading to corrosion
  • Exposure of the tank fill or vent pipes to rain, especially to roof runoff for tanks mounted under the eaves of a home and especially if the oil fill cap is not securely tightened after filling with oil.  
  • External oil tank rust due to exposure to the weather. Many small tanks, 275 to 300 gallon tanks were used for unintended uses.  Meaning many of these size tanks, were never rated for outdoor use, but have been used for outdoor use and some even buried.   You can tell what use a tank is rated for by reading the UL label that is affixed to the top of the tank.  Manufacturers of newer oil storage tanks in this size range often have removed this "indoor use only" wording from the UL label.
  • Improper oil tank installation  of improper oil tank type.  Meaning the tank was not designed for the current use.  We have found indoor oil tanks that were moved outside and placed onto the underground in the soil surface below a deck, and then partially to half buried. What is this tank, an underground tank or an aboveground tank?  (The government definition of a UST is one where 10% or more of the tank is buried below ground.) These tanks were not rated for outdoor use at all and are at extra risk of leakage due to placement of the tank body directly in contact with the soil.
  • Improper oil storage tank supports, such as failure to keep the outdoor tank off of the ground, to install it at the proper pitch and direction of pitch, and to install it on level surface, unsecured legs of the tank can lead to the tank tipping over, ripping open an oil line, and obvious discharge of oil from the tank.   This is more common with out-of-service tanks.

Want information on tank removal? Clock here Oil Tank Removal

Tags: oil tank, tank leak, OIl Tank Sweeps, tank removal grants, oil tank removal nj, oil tank removal new jersey

Due Diligence & Executors of Homes with Oil Tanks

Posted by David C Sulock on Aug 31, 2016 2:30:54 PM

A gentleman contacted Curren Environmental regarding a house of his deceased in-laws.  His wife is the executor of the estate and lives local to the property.  Her parents who recently passed away, purchased their home only 2 years ago, moving from their previous home where they lived for over 50 years. Now, her parents’ home needs to be sold.  With all estates, you have the executor who is burdened with managing all the affairs, payment of bills and disbursement of assets with typically the home being the largest and most difficult assist to deal with.  Now, you also have the relatives and typically the beneficiaries of the estate that don’t do much but complain about how slow the executor is in disbursing the monies.  The heirs or as some people say THEIRS, want their share pronto (mourning is over) and they are impatient and do not understand what the delay is when disbursing the monies Mom and Dad left for them.  This is an extremely common scenario particularly when the average time it takes to settle an estate is one year.

This photos shows a more serios tank leak where the oil leaked deeper into the water table.  The seller would not allow the buyer to do any testing before purchase.

leaking oil tank cost

Being an executor of an estate is a difficult, thankless job as I just tried to explain.  Being the executor of an estate with an oil tank is an even bigger headache.  In our scenario the last asset to manage is the home sale and failure comes quick.  The home we are discussing was as I stated just purchased 2 years ago and is in good shape as the parents had a home inspection and prior owners addressed the short laundry list of items the home inspector found, so the sale by all the heirs accounts should be fast and smooth, right?   Yes and no, the house found a buyer that loved the house, neighborhood and price.  House was being sold as is and the buyers were ok with that.  Problem was the house was of the era when oil heat was likely used (home is on natural gas) and the buyers wanted a tank scan.  The Executor didn’t even know what a tank scan was and was informed by their attorney that if a tank was found, they would have to disclose it to future buyers in the event the deal went south. 

The heirs to the estate (brother & sister) lived in Florida, where oil tank problems are like unicorns and were completely baffled as to why this type of inspection would be necessary.   Now the internet is a vast trove of information where you can learn then become quite confused.  The executor googled Oil Tank Leak New Jersey and saw some alarming (scary) web pages, so they denied the prospective home buyers the rights to perform a tank scan.  (buyers were just out of their inspection period, so it was within the rights of the owner to deny the inspection).  So the deal died and the executor and heirs were anxious for the next buyer. 

The estate found another buyer and in the contract removed the right to do any tank sweeps and provided a statement that they were unaware of any oil tanks.  Again this buyer fell through, upon the advice of their realtor and attorney who both knew the risk of an oil tank (expensive to cleanup oil tank leaks and whoever owns the property owns the problem) and they canceled their offer to purchase.  Now the house sat, realtors talk as do neighbors, word on the street the property had an oil tank problem that the owners would not address.  You see realtors talk about what deals are happening and why deals fall apart, neighbors also are aware when a house gets a for sale sign, an under contract sign and then gets a for sale sign again

In this situation the husband of the executor contacted our office and relayed the story you were just told.  He wanted to know if he could inspect the dwelling for an oil tank so that he would know if there was an oil tank.  He didn’t want a report of a tank scan, he just wanted to know one way or another so they could settle this issue.  (the brother in Florida was getting real impatient and couldn’t understand the holdup)  What was Curren Environmental’s advice?

  1. It was ill-advised to deny the buyer the option of performing a tank scan, it made the owner look like they were hiding something. We asked how would you feel if you were denied an inspection for a property you were buying?
  2. Even though the sale was As Is, oil tanks don’t fall into As Is sales as you can’t walk a site and determine the expense involved with cleaning up an oil tank, that can cost thousands of dollars to just diagnosis the problem. It is far easier to get contractors to walk a property and provide rough budgets for roof repair, bathroom remodel, kitchen updating, tank issues cannot be evaluated so easily - unless you have X-ray vision.  Bottom line, the tank scan should have been performed.
  3. The question to our office regarding what indications would indicate the presence of an oil tank was a red flag, it typically means that the person wants to hide this evidence. WE indicated that they should stop going in the direction of looking for evidence of a tank, you see we were already in agreement that the age of the home (Pre 1985) was a sign that the house may have had oil heat.  In fact this house was built in 1920, and no doubt had coal heat, which was converted to oil heat after WWII and then ultimately natural gas.
  4. If the sellers stayed on the course they were on (denying an oil tank sweep), they may find a buyer, that may buy the house and an oil tank may be found in the future (possible during the next transaction or by a home improvement, or neighbor talking about how the neighborhood had oil heat and their house has a buried oil tank). Now at this point where an owner finds an oil tank, old owners typically get sued.  The problems with estates and oil tanks are by this time, the estate is dissolved and monies are disbursed, so the parties getting sued are the heirs to the estate.
  5. The best course of action is to allow the oil tank inspection, if no tank is found no harm no foul. If a tank is found, be aware of what many tank removal companies will not tell you,  (1) not all tanks leak, (2) not all tanks that leak require remediation and (3)  oil tank that leaks that are so costly and detailed in the scary Google search of Oil Tank Leaks, are rare, but that is what people see when they research oil tanks.
  6. Better to perform a tank scan, if an oil tank is found, remove the oil tank.  This is preferable to hiding any tank issue and than be sued afterwards. Bottom line, you can’t go stick the oil tank problem on the next person, it is unethical and immoral and the buyer will find  an attorney that will sue you.  Let’s say your property has an oil tank and you have to spend money to remove and remediate, well whatever that cost is $5,000.00 or $8,000.00 or whatever amount, that is a cost the estate must bear.  Whatever the estate is worth, it is worth that amount less whatever the cost of the tank issue is, If there even was an oil tank.

What to know the ending of this story, what happen to the estate?   Did the siblings in Florida get help?  Did the first buyer come back to buy the house after doing a tank scan?   Call our office to find out at 856-858-9509 or email us at info@CurrenEnvironmental.com. Curren offers a free consultation to address your oil tank questions; we know you have one because you just read our story. (Check out this story from an Estate in CA)

 

Tags: oil tank removal nj

They removed my oil tank - but it leaked. What do I do now?

Posted by david sulock on Sep 18, 2015 1:51:16 PM

                                

 

Underground Oil Tank Removed                Leak in the Oil Tank

Underground Oil Tank (UST) removal is a once in a lifetime occurrence for the small group of people who have to undertake this project.  Of those individuals, 9 times out of ten even their friends probably have never had a tank removed.  Leaving just the few unlucky homeowners with a project that if evidence of an oil leak is found from the tank, it can quickly escalate the cost of the project.  Homeowners with no knowledge or experience in oil tank leaks or network of friends who have experience in this type of project are forced to rely on the integrity of the firm that removed the oil tank.  

Here at Curren, we constantly receive calls from homeowners who had an oil tank removed for a somewhat loss leader price of between $1,000 and $1,500. After the tank is removed the homeowner is told that the tank leaked and remediation is needed.  Usually a day or a week after tank removal, a proposal is presented for remediation, which typically is priced between $8,000and $15,000. The Homeowner contacts Curren to provide a competitive price to remediate as they were not expecting such an expense.  Being professionals we request the diagnostic or delineation laboratory testing from the tank area so we know (1) the concentration of oil in the ground is above 5100 ppm for EPH so remediation is required and (2) the extent of the oil leak (depth and length and width of the area) has been defined or delineated as is common industry parlance.  

What do we hear when we ask for hard empirical evidence, documentation that a homeowner should receive from the tank removal company?  

  1. No soil testing was done it was not in your contract.
  2. The company just knows because they have been doing this for a long time.
  3. It was a small leak as evidenced by the holes in the tank.
  4. My sniff meter (PID) says it is bad.

What all those responses really mean are “We didn’t want to waste your $120.00 to do a test and find out you really don’t have much of a problem.  We thought it was in our best interest, not yours to just tell it is bad and give you an expensive quote to remediate and in all honesty, we do not even know if you need remediation.  If we did test the soil and find out the levels are below 5100 ppm (which is a fair amount of oil) you probably would not need to remediate and we would not make as much money.

The field meter they use to tell you there is oil in the ground.  Well that is more for presence or absence of oil.  There is NO correlation as to what registers on the meter in the field and what the actual laboratory result would be. 

Well, being scientific we know that those three answers are based on no factual information, except perhaps that fact that a homeowner wants to know what the cost will be when they are told their tank leaked.  Uncertainty is not a desirable feeling regarding a problem that you often hear can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  $8,000 or $15,000 is better than $20,000 or $40,000 so often times, homeowners are upset but also relieved, as at least they know what they are facing.  Here is the shocker they do not.  If an oil tank leaks (or you are told your tank leaks) the only way to know how far the oil has spread is one of two ways as follows:

  1. Drilling through the middle of the excavation and obtain soil samples to determine at what depth the oil tank leak stopped migrating vertically. Repeating this step on each of the four sides of the removed tank excavation to determine how far the oil has spread to the north, south, east and west.  This is called delineation.  Look at it in perspective, god forbid you are diagnosed with cancer, you will not undergo treatment or surgery until testing is done to define the extent of the cancer right? 
  1. In science, there are equations to determine all sorts of things. To determine how far a liquid such as oil will flow through a given media (the soil) you simple need the following information:
    1. When the leak occurred (number of days or years).
    2. Rate of oil leak (per day amount is most helpful).
    3. Amount of oil that leaked.
    4. Amount of rain that occurred during the leak period.
    5. The porosity of the soils where the tank is located.

With these nuggets of information, you can model APPROXIMATELY the extent to which the oil has migrated.  In any event, unless you have the information in items A thru F, how can you model the leak range?  The answer is you cannot.  You can guess, but who wants to rely on a guess?   We know you want answers right away when you are told your tank leaks, but you have to look at things in perspective and realize that without proper evaluation you cannot be accurate.

Let us circle back to your original tank removal project.  Expensive but not too bad at $1,000 to $1,500 on average is an expense most people can begrudgingly swing, particularly if it allows them to sell their house.   We often times call low ball tank removing pricing a Loss Leader (think cheap price per pound for turkeys at Thanksgiving to get you in the store) or hooking, to get people to buy the service or get on the hook so that the bigger project/expense (remediation) can be obtained.  Take a look at the contract, does it include.

  1. Cost for soil samples?
  2. Why you would want to take soil samples if the tank is found to be leaking?
  3. What soil sample results mean in relation to NJDEP regulations.
  4. A report that is supplied after tank removal to document the work and certify whether it did or did not leak?

If you do not have any of these four items and I can tell you from experience, 90% of the consumer contracts Curren reviews do not. The homeowner who signs these contracts is potentially being led down a slippery, costly slope. We often times see the next step after the owner gets their tank removed is an expensive contract to remediate, that is based on zero scientific data.  The most alarming of all this, is that on sites where Curren is brought in to investigate a reported tank leak, 80% of the time and let me say that again 80% of the time, the tank area DOES NOT REQUIRE remediation.  I stress this as a professional organization we acquire and review data, interpret the information and provide opinions based on our review of the factual information.  In full disclosure Curren, removes oil tanks, tests tank areas and performs remediations.  Of these three services, remediation is always the most expensive, so although we are happy to remove oil tanks and test tank areas, we are equally willing to remediate oil tank leaks IF IT IS WARRANTED, if there is a driver, meaning oil in the ground above permissible limits.  The NJDEP allows a certain amount of oil in the ground, did the tank removal tell you that, in writing,   verbally, probably not.

The point here is that oil tank removal and remediation of oil tank leaks (when warranted) are projects where homeowners must go into with eyes wide open.  From our experience, there is a large pool of firms that do not properly manage the exceptions of homeowners and rush these homeowners into costly remediations that are not warranted.  Yes, we know often times you are removing a tank due to a pending real estate transaction, and everything is time sensitive, but that is not an excuse to make a bad decision.

No matter where you are in the tank removal project (pre removal, post removal, possibly remediation, if you want facts, solid professional advice call Curren at 888-301-1050 or email at info@currenenvironmental.com What you have just read is what we tell homeowners repeatedly, as they feel like the firm they are talking to or have contracted with is not working in their best interest.

 

Tags: oil tank removal nj

Oil Tank Removal in New Jersey

Posted by david sulock on Jan 28, 2011 9:00:00 PM

The purpose of this document is to provide a concise reference to the preferred practices and procedures for oil tank removals in NJ. 

oil tank removal nj 

Buried oil tanks raise a variety of environmental, safety, legal and economic concerns for home owners and home buyers. The largest concern relates to the environmental issues that are caused when the oil tank leaks and causes  soil or groundwater  contamination. 

The following is a breakdown of the proper steps that should taken in order to remove your residential oil tank. 

Step 1: Permitting 

Local construction/demolition and/or fire subcode permits need to be applied for and the permits approved by the municipal office.     Once the local permits are approved, it is typical that the local inspector will need to be onsite for all or a part of the removal activities.  Permit application, insuring permit approval and scheduling of local inspectors is always done by Curren Environmental before removing the oil tank. 

Step 2: Underground Utilities 

State law requires that before any excavation activities can commence, a utility markout will need to be performed. The company performing the oil tank removal should call for an underground markout through “NJ One Call”.  t is the law in New Jersey and other states, to call for a utility markout before you dig. Make sure the company you choose to remove the tank obtains a markout confirmation number.  It protects all parties involved. 

Step 3: Oil Tank Cleaning 

Cleaning of the tank will consist of wiping, squeegeeing and removing all liquids and sludges from the tank.  Liquids are then either  placed into onsite storage containers or a vacuum truck. . 

Step 4: Oil Tank Removal    

It is recommended that all oil tanks be removed from the ground  when taking a tank out of service.  (In some instances when removal of the oil tank may damage the integrity of the structure an abandonment in place can be performed.)  By removing the tank from the ground a site assessment can be performed to determine if the tank has maintained integrity. 

Step 5: Oil Tank Site Assessmen

After the oil tank is removed a site assessment can performed by Curren’s certified NJDEP Subsurface Evaluator.  The site assessment to evaluate whether contamination is present in the excavation can be carried out in a variety of ways  while the tank is being removed. 

▸   Evidence of contamination can be determined from product odors, product stained soils, and/or visual evidence of free product.   

▸   Inspection of the Underground Storage Tank, (UST), for evidence of corrosion or perforations. 

▸   By a series of observations and measurements during the tank excavation and decommissioning operations such as  soil and ground water sampling and analysis. 

In New Jersey the standard analytical testing method for #-2 heating oil is Extractable Petroleum Hydrocarbons (EPH). All samples must be submitted to an independent NJDEP licensed laboratory for analysis.  EPH results are measured in part per million or ppm. Samples results above 5,100 ppm are actionable and require remedial activities to be completed.   EPH results  between 1,000 ppm and 5,100 ppm require an additional analysis. 

Step 6: Backfilling 

Once the tank is removed from the ground the void space must be backfilled with clean certified  fill.  The general equation for backfilling is five cubic yards of backfill material for every 1000 gallons of storage capacity.  For example a 500-gallon tank would require 2.5 cubic yards of fill material.  Suppling and installing the backfill is always performed by the firm removing the tank and should be included in tank removal cost. 

Step 7: Site Investigation Report - Tank Certification

Curren Environmental will prepare a Site Investigation Report which will document the tank removal activities.  The report will detail the heating oil tank removal and provide certification of the tank removal.   The report will include the following information: 

   1.  Copy of the local permit for tank removal 
   2.  Liquid receipt from the tank cleaning. 
   3.  A thorough written description of the tank removal activities. 
   4.  Photo documentation of tank removal (if available). 
   5.  A copy of the tank scrap receipt. 
   6.  Any applicable laboratory test results. 
   7.  A detailed text description of the condition of the tank and if any petroleum contamination was noted in the tank excavation. 

Curren Environmental, Inc. is a licensed by the  New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to perform closure activities associated with Underground Storage Tanks, (USTs).   

Tags: oil tank grants, tank grants, NJDEP oil tank removal grant, free oil tank removal, oil tank removal, oil tank removal new jersey, oil tank removal nj, tank removal, tank removal grants