Hot Environmental Topics

Should I Remove my Aboveground Storage Tank?

Nov 18, 2020 12:36:02 PM / by David C Sulock

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Converting to natural gas from oil heat will typically include you removing the unused oil tank, except when the tank is a heating oil AST (Aboveground Storage Tank).   Many states have construction codes that requires UST closure when converting to natural gas from a UST, but not for ASTs. The number one reason heating oil ASTs are ignored is that it costs money to remove the them.    But doing nothing with the tank can cost thousands of dollars more than just the tank removal. So many properties have 300 gallon tanks sitting in damp places, slowly rusting and waiting to leak.  Basement tank remediation cost can rival to UST tank leaks, because when a tank leaks in a basement you now have to remediate soils under a house.

Above Ground oil tanks will leak

When a tank leaks, the typical remedial approach is to treat the contaminated soil like a cancer and remove the soil.  When the tank is outside it is easier because hydraulic excavation equipment can easily access that area. What happens when a tank leaks in basement?  Well that is hand work, very slow and expensive. 

Basement oil tank leak remediation

Bottom line it is pennywise and dollar foolish to not remove a heating oil AST when you stop using it.

Read on if you want to learn more.

ASTs leak

Why would an Aboveground Oil Tank (AST) leak? 

Many oil tanks rust  from the inside out.  This most often occurs on the upper portion of the tank where the tank is empty and the oil is not present to lubricate the steel, condensation and humidity can allow rust to form.  The photo below shows the inside of an AST, upper portion, note the orange rust.

Basement tanks rust and leak

 

Heating oil ASTs can  also leak due to the use of low sulfur fuel, because of acid rain.

Remember Acid Rain? (boring reading ahead)

Why do we never hear about acid rain anymore?  Acid Rain fell off the radar in 1990 (30 years ago), when an amendment to the Clean Air Act required major reductions in the types of emissions that lead to acid rain, meaning we reduced our use of sulfur in fuels.   Acid rain results when sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) are emitted into the atmosphere and transported by wind and air currents. The SO2 and NOX react with water, oxygen and other chemicals to form sulfuric and nitric acidsSulfur is in  heating oil.  

For 30 years heating oil tanks have had low sulfur fuel.  Without a high level of sulfur microbial growth will occur in an oil tank  on the bottom of the tank where sludge is present.  Secretions from these microbes produce acids that  corrode a steel tank from the inside.    So a tank can corrode from the inside where people think it is lubricated and don't even talk about exterior corrosion on the tank.  

The photo below is the bottom of an AST that was cut open, note the orange rust in contact to the shiny metal.  Yep rust happens inside an oil tank.

Aboveground oil tank leaks

The two tanks in this photo have not been used in 25 years.  20 years ago a trench drain was installed around the tanks.  (Owner didn't want to spend money to remove 2 tanks, too expensive).  The rub is one of the tanks is leaking ever so slightly, if not addressed the oil will go into the trench drain and sump and eventually be discharged outside.  

Aboveground heating oil tank removal

When you convert to natural gas, you spend thousands of dollars and if you can save any money it is to leave the heating oil AST alone.    Leaving unused oil tanks in basements and crawlspaces are like lighting a fuse and waiting for something to go boom.   

Don't wait for your heating oil AST to leak, call for a free estimate.

Call Curren Today

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Top 5 Environmental Deal Breakers in Real Estate

Oct 1, 2020 11:00:00 AM / by Tiffany Byrne posted in Selling a house, Buying a house, Real Estate

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You found the perfect house, it's beautiful inside and out.  This is not the first house you looked at, you actually lost count, so you have a large pool of houses you considered before you decided to make an offer on this one.  There may be a few adjustments when you move in (that worn carpet is going, that wall separating the kitchen and family room is going to go  and lastly the large pink bathroom is getting redone.) but mostly it is actually your dream home (great location, yard, large bedrooms and closets).  You do the walk through and make an offer on the home.  Move forward and now even though the home was your dream home, you never even thought about the environmental issues would impact the purchase of that property. 

Underground Oil Tank

The house has charm, it was built in 1950, so oil heat is assured (there really weren't any other choices).  You do a tank sweep Oil Tank Sweep and find a long forgotten oil tank in the side yard.  Should be easy to remove, cost is around $1,600.00.  You request it be removed. Oil Tank Removal.  The seller's google oil tank leak and get skittish.

tank found with oil tank sweep

Mold in the Basement

Home inspection find suspect fungal growth in the basement.  You hire a mold consultant and the basement is tested and mold is confirmed Mold Inspection & Testing.  Mold remediation as well as mold prevention measures are $2,700.00.  Seller gripes about having to remediate the mold, but their realtor and attorney advised that now that the presence of mold is known it must be disclosed to future buyers and many buyers may be hesitant to buy a home with old.    You are told that mold is not a selling feature.    But hey the mold remediation comes with a long warranty, who doesn't want piece of mind.  Mold Remediation

mold remediation

Call for Mold Questions.

Asbestos in the Wall you want to remove.

Asbestos was actually considered a green building product back in the day.  It was used everywhere, including in plaster and since the house was built in the 1950 (asbestos was banned in the 1970's).   The contractor you had walk through to give you a renovation budget said the presence of asbestos is almost guaranteed as he has worked in the town for years and it comes up on all his projects of homes from that era).   Not a huge problem, but it is going to add thousands to the renovation budget, the landscaping budget just evaporated).  The money for the asbestos is not a concession the seller is willing to step up to, since its well documented that older homes have asbestos.  In fact your realtor tells you that it would be a real feat to find a home built before 1970 that doesn't have asbestos somewhere in the home.

The HVAC System has poor Indoor air quality.

You learned during the home inspection process that the HVAC system is the lungs of the home.  Makes sense hot and cold air run through the system so anything that the system does to improve air quality helps.  This system doesn't do much.  You learned that the little 1"  (inch) filter does next to nothing to remove particulate from the air.  You need a MERV 13 or 16 filter, which is 5" thick.  MERV: minimum efficiency reporting value.  The MERV 16?  Well that filter captures >95% of particles in the entire size range tested (0.3-10.0 microns), one micron — a millionth of a meter, kind of like adding a N-95 mask to your HVAC system.    The system also needs to add more fresh air every hour to compensate for people consuming air and adding carbon dioxide with every breath exhaled.  The house doesn't have a whole house humidifier, which you need in winter to raise humidity.  Apparently viruses can thrive in a low humidity environment.    Lastly you need a UV light added to the system.  Why UV Light?  Ultraviolet lights have been proven to  kill mold, viruses and bacteria for more than 100 years. In 1903, Niels Finsen was given the Noble Prize in Medicine for using UV to effectively treat patients with skin infections.     UV Light is also being used to clean areas of Covid-19.   It all makes sense, you though a heater was a heater, but indoor air quality is on everyone's mind and improving indoor air quality.  Again the sellers are not contributing to the cost since the HVAC was visible, but your untrained eye missed what the HVAC system as missing.  On a side note, their realtor tells your realtor that they are making the same changes to the HVAC system on the home they are buying.

Oil Tank Leaked.

Sellers agreed to remove the tank, and yes a buried metal tank in the ground will rust and oil will leak through the holes.    Remediation cost you are told is around $19,000, and that is not a really expensive cleanup either.  The sellers move forward with the work, but settlement is delayed 45 days due to the remediation and the government signoff of the work.  Again your realtor and attorney explain that a looming oil tank remediation is going to deter other buyers.   Side note, both your mortgage company and home owner's insurance carrier had issues providing insurance and a mortgage on a property with oil contamination.

Want to learn about environmental issues in real estate?

What to know how a home can be green?

Curren Environmental is an education provider and lectures on these topics?   Want to make your staff, your company, your associates smarter about environmental topics?   Call Tiffany Byrne to learn how we can help   856-858-9509

 

Curren Green Home Ideas

 

 

 

 

 

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Best Advice from a Project Manager regarding Underground Oil Tank

Sep 16, 2020 10:00:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in oil tank removal nj, oil tank removal pa, tank testing

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Advice for you from an experienced Project Manager.

best tank removal advice

The most important item that I would advise someone regarding an underground oil tank is to know your facts and know what you are and are not paying for with the company you choose. Most clients only get a tank removed once in their lifetime and it can be overwhelming. If you are getting more than one proposal, which I would highly recommend, each proposal should detail within line items exactly what will occur before, during and after the tank removal. If any of the companies you are receiving quotes from are not describing what they are doing in line item detail, I would pass on those companies.

More often than not, when we get a call back from someone who has had their tank removed from another company their main issue or complaint is about the soil samples.

tank removal soil sampling

A very important piece of the tank removal is knowing if your tank did or did not leak and knowing the Extractable Petroleum Hydrocarbon (EPH) in New Jersey, DRO concentration in Delaware and Statewide Health Standards in Pennsylvania of the soil samples.  There are permissible level of oil allowable in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

There is no way to know if you need a remediation just by looking at the soil. How it looks, how it smells, or how many holes in the tank will give you an indication that yes a leak occurred but it will not tell you the concentrations of the contamination without concrete laboratory analysis. 

See this photo? 

Soils look clean? 

They actually are contaminated, looks are deceiving.

all oil tanks need soil sampling

 

If you don't have soil samples analyzed by an independent laboratory (takes about a week) there is no way to know for sure. I have reviewed numerous pieces of information provided by homeowners from their tank removal company and I would say 90% are done in a manner which financially serves the company and not the homeowner. The most common things I have heard in regards to the soil samples:

  • The tank removal company took no samples and said remediation was needed
  • The tank removal company took 1 sample (a minimum of 2 are required by the state)
  • The tank removal company took 1 sample and said remediation was needed but the analysis was wrong
  • The tank removal company points to a hole in the tank and declares remediation is necessary and testing isn't necessary because it's obvious.
    DCP_0890

We go back and test may sites with removed tanks where the homeowner is told remediation is required and low and behold after we test we determine remediation is not warranted.   Most times Curren is able to resolve the problem but at the cost of a few thousand dollars that may or may not have been necessary if the original tank removal company has proceeded correctly, meaning obtained soil samples.   Taking samples at time of removal is much less expensive than remediation.  But companies make more money from remediation so they don't explain the benefit oil soil sampling at time of tank removal.

Bottom line when you shop for a tank removal, you must realize that the cost differential is likely due to the lower priced company not supplying a licensed project manager for soil sampling and the cost of the laboratory analysis.

Now if you are thinking you don't want soil testing performed when your tank is removed, because you don't want to find a problem.   Be aware the pool of potential buyers that are willing to buy a property where  testing was not performed is tiny.   We test properties al the time where tanks were removed without testing and the buyer wants testing.  We also see buyers walk away from properties where testing was not performed.   They figure if the seller doesn't want to find a problem, they are not going to want to fix a problem if found so why spend the money, they move onto the next house.

Expert Advice for over 20 years

Call Curren Today

 

 

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Phase I Due Diligence during Covid-19

Sep 10, 2020 8:15:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in Phase I, Due Diligence, Phase I ESA

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Commercial Due Diligence includes performance of a Phase I ESA

Well how do you perform a Phase I ESA during Covid-19, when government offices are closed or minimally staffed delaying records request and you have settlement in 3 weeks?

Phase I ESA during Covid-19

Well how do you perform a Phase I ESA during Covid-19, when government offices are closed or minimally staffed -  delaying records request and you have settlement in 3 weeks?  In short you add this known delay into contract as buying real estate during Covid-19 is an unprecedented task.

Lets say you are buying a commercial building in New Jersey during Covid-19 and there are NJDEP (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection) files that require review.  Of important note if any government environmental agency has records on the property you are purchasing you want those files reviewed.

You do due diligence not just to research current operations but what occurred at the property in the past.

Covid-19 Phase I ESA

Curren was performing a phase I for just such a situation and here is a quick summary of the obstacle faced with public records and Phase I ESA's.

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Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request was  submitted an OPRA records request to the NJDEP on July 1, 2020.

On July 14, 2020 Curren received a response from the NJDEP indicating that due to the COVID-19 restrictions indicting “the NJDEP is not able to fully respond to record requests within the prescribed timeframe under the Open Public Records Act, N.J.S.A.47:1A-1 et seq (OPRA). The NJDEP work force has transitioned to work remotely from home, impacting the NJDEP's ability to access onsite and archived government records, conduct onsite inspections, and copy responsive records. In accordance with N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(i)(2), which states that the deadlines under OPRA, to grant or deny access to a government record shall not apply if no reasonable efforts are available based on the circumstances, and in maintaining consistency with the social distancing directives of the Governor, the NJDEP is not able to complete the search for responsive records and respond to this request. Once resources allow, the NJDEP will complete and issue the final Government Records Request Form response to this request. We apologize for this inconvenience.”.

On July 13, 2020 the NJDEP submitted a response indicating “At this time, your request is not able to be completed within the statutory time frame specified in OPRA”.

On July 20, 2020, Curren received another response from NJDEP indicating that “Based on this record request, responsive records have been identified and will be emailed to you within 5-business days”.

On August 6, 2020 Curren reached out to the NJDEP requesting information as to the status of the email. In response to this email the NJDEP requested that Curren recontact them if the information was not received by August 18, 2020.

On August 20, 2020, Curren again submitted a request regarding the status of the information and received a reply indicating that we should have the data by Monday August 24.

On August 21, 2020, Curren received an email from the NJDEP with pdf files regarding the site. 

So approximately 7 weeks after a request was submitted the public records were produced.  You can repeat this same story for Phase's performed in Pennsylvania and Delaware, where we have seen similar delays.

If you are buying a commercial property and you are completing a phase I ESA, you need to prepare for longer reporting time frames.

If there one aspect of the economy that has strong forward momentum it is residential and commercial real estate sales.  The boom in real estate transactions (transactions are limited based on availability of properties for sale) are driven by historically low interest rates and the economic blow of Covid-19 on businesses that are driving prices lower and creating a buying opportunity for strategic investors.   In short there are businesses that are closed and real estate is being listed for sale and sold.  This is occurring by both owner operators of property as well as owner/landlords that have lost rental income and are selling the properties. By strategic investors we are referencing a buyers that have near immediate plans for the properties being purchased.  The closure of restaurants and many small business due to Covid-19 has left a dramatically different real estate market

Commercial Due Diligence includes performance of a Phase I ESA.    A Phase I researches current and past operations and diligent inquiries encompass obtaining and reviewing available public records.  Anything submitted to a government agency by nature is subject to review under the Open Public Records Act or OPRA.   Having a Phase I without reviewing OPRA records leaves a gaping data gap in your due diligence.

Expert Due Diligence Advice

  Call Curren Today

Expert Due Diligence

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Why GPR Tank Sweeps are so important.

Sep 1, 2020 8:15:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in OIl Tank Sweeps, tank scans, oil tank leak, foam filling oil tank, pa tank removal

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Protecting your interest when you buy a property is called Due Diligence and one of the most important due diligence steps you can take is performing a tank sweep with GPR. 

Why perform a tank sweep?

Most homes built before 1980 likely had oil heat at one time, so 90% of single family homes likely had oil heat in the past, possible several owners before.  Oil tank are made of metal, they rust, they leak and it can costs thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars to cleanup.  You don't want to buy a home that has an oil tank liability.

 

The home in this photo series is  circa 1920's, so oil usage was 100%. 

Buyers were told the basement had two ASTs (Aboveground Storage Tanks), that were removed. This photo shows where the ASTs were located in the basement.

 

Houses with AST's may also have had UST's

But just because a property had an AST doesn't mean the site didn't have a UST (underground storage tank). 

So why bother to do a tank sweep for a property where there is documentation of former Aboveground Storage Tanks?  Simple nothing lasts forever and the older the property, the more likely that a tank may have had to be replaced.

Can you see evidence of a UST in this photo?   

It's obvious to the trained eye.

All photos on this page are from the same property.     The buyers were told the home had oil heat, the oil tank was an Aboveground Tank in the basement, which was true but seller's failed to mention that the AST replaced an Underground Storage Tank (UST).  Or the owners didn't know that there was a UST since they didn't do a tank sweep when they bought the house.   Although the sellers had their own consultant use a metal detector to scan the site, which couldn't locate a UST.

Tank sweeps experts

 

Simple is not always best.  No doubt your current smart phone ( phone, camera, computer, GPS, etc.) in your pocket is a vast improving from your phone of 10 years ago.  Most likely more expensive but it does so much more.

Having the best available technology also translate to an effective tank sweep.   A $225.00 tank sweep with an $800 metal detector, it not an effective tool for locating tanks, as the cost of the equipment can attest.

metal detectors are poor toold for finding tanks

The sellers metal detector results?

The metal detector produced some deflection around the plant bed indicating a possible metal tank.    Curren scanned the area with GPR and fund the metal signature were the oil tank lines from the house to the tank. 

The metal detector then went over the adjacent driveway.  The findings?

The metal detector indicated a slight, faint response at a location about mid-way beneath the driveway directly in line with the remote fill. Due to the faint nature of the signal, possibly caused by wire or rebar in the concrete driveway pad, the location could not be defined.

 

When you need work performed you want to hire a professional with years of experience and the best possible tools for the job.  Curren was hired by the buyers to perform a GPR tank sweep.

Within the first 10 minutes of the Curren technician being on site, we were able to locate the remote oil tank fill which had been covered over with soil.   See photo below, the red tile probe is pointing to a round cap in the landscaping which is the tank fill.

IMG_6083

Tank Sweep Questions?

IMG_6082-1

If you were buying a commercial property you would perform a tank sweep with GPR as that is the standard and most effective approach.  But if you are buying a commercial property you are more experienced than the run of the mill buyer.

Curren scanned the driveway with GPR and located the tank, which the metal detector could not pinpoint.buried oil tank GPR image

The tank is outlined in yellow lines in the photo below.  The tank was under reinforced (steel) concrete making the metal detector useless, but allowing the Ground Penetrating Radar to locate the tank.

 

GPR Tank Sweep

The best service directly correlates to most experienced and using the best equipment.  Hiring chuck in a truck with an $800 metal detector, who also works out of their house, may offer an attractive price, but are you getting the best service?  Is the metal detector really the best device?

To be fair performing a Geophysical evaluation which is what a tank sweep is, can involve using multiple technologies.   When we find a buried anomaly (tank) we typically also verify the anomaly as metallic using two different metal detectors.  Trust me when you find a tank that a seller didn't know exists, they want to know its a tank, confirming a metallic signature helps the medicine go down, it is just a metal detector should not be your only technology you rely upon.

 

Ground Penetrating Radar tank sweeps

We also have removed thousands of tanks so we know what we are looking for.Tank sweep experts for over 20 years

 

tank experts

locating buried tanks

 

professional tank sweep

 

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Why does my filled in place tank have to be removed?

Aug 27, 2020 9:30:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in oil tank removal nj, tank removal, tank leak, tank abandoned in place, filled in place tank

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Why my filled in place tank has to be removed?

(aka Closed in place tank has to be removed to sell a property)

Every tank needs a report with testing to say the tank did not leak. Tanks abandoned in place avoid having testing performed which negates finding out if the tank did or did not leak.

Photo Jul 23, 11 10 39 AM

Case in point, the above photo is a tank that was filled with foam.  You will notice that there are no access holes cut into the tank that would have allowed tank entry.  Yes you can see the large horizontal access hole Curren cut into the tank, but  no such hole was there before, which means the tank was never cleaned of residual oil.  See the oil in the tank and on the foam?filled in place tank removal You can see that to clean a tank you need elbow grease to go inside the tank, any oil left in a tank can leak in the future, hence why closed in place are removed.filled in place oil tank removal

Remember when people thought smoking was healthy?   There was a time when people and the tobacco industry didn’t openly speak of cigarettes as being unhealthy or addictive. This correlates to tanks that were previously filled in place without a “non-leaking certification”.   Few people want to find a problem, meaning their tank leaked, since problems have to be solved and that can cost money.   Oil tanks rust from the inside and out, and the cleanup of these leaks can cost thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars.

Photo Jan 13, 9 50 43 AM

This tank was filled with sand, to absorb the oil in the tank, rain water filled the tank pushing the oil up and out into the soils.  $29,000 later the tank was removed and the soil remediated.

filled in place UST

Oil tank filled with sand removal

 

Filled in place oil tank remediation

Many property owners either being naïve or savvy had their buried tanks filled in place years ago.  Believing or hoping that if they hired a company to fill their tank (not a DIY project) and getting a local permit in conjunction with township/municipal inspection the tank would never be an issue. Fast forward to today, same property is being sold and its owned by either the same people who filled the tank in place or a subsequent homeowner (who typically naively bought the property not understanding the tank liability) and now the buyer wants the tank removed and tested.

These are all reasons why today's buyers want oil tanks removed and tested, to prevent the tank from being an issue in the future.

Call Curren Today

Tank foam filled and not cleanedStatements from property owners calling our office about their tank over the past 25 years.

  1. I don’t want to remove the tank and find a problem, its legal to fill it in place, I want to do that.
  2. Why do I want to test the tank and find a problem?
  3. I want the tank filled in place, I don’t want testing.
  4. My tank was filled in place but they put a camera into the tank before filling it in place.  (Absurd, but a few people a year say this)
  5. My tank was filled in place and tested. (Unfortunately I can find the paperwork for filling the tank I just cant find the testing data.  (Because it was never tested)
  6. My tank was tested before filling in place, but a different company did the testing and I can’t find the eating data.  (No one pays two companies to do something one company can do, unsurprisingly these people cant find anything regarding testing, contract, invoice cancelled check.  We call this unicorn paperwork, only the pure of heart can see it)
  7. Removing the tank will disturb my prized lawn, bush, special tree, sprinkler line, flower bed, etc.   They never say it was a bad idea beautify the area above the oil tank.

A little history, in the 1990’s Federal regulations were established regarding commercial tanks (gas, diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel) and there were clauses where a commercial tank could not economically be removed that the tank could be filled in place, AFTER holes were created in the bottom of the tank allowing soil sampling for leaks to be obtained.  

 

Holes in the bottom of an oil tank

sampling a closed in place tank

These regulations created a tank removal/closure industry and established standards for tank removal and closure in place, these standards said evaluate for leaks, do testing, document (draft a report of the work), report leaks to appropriate government environmental agencies.   So companies doing  tank closure had a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

 

sampling below a tank  2017-02-13 11.34.33   

These photos show coupons (holes) cut into bottom of tank for soil sampling.

Now these testing regulations didn’t apply to residential oil tanks, but there was an awareness that if a leak was discovered it was reportable and cleanup maybe necessary.  So property owners circumvented the proper course of action and instead of removing a tank, and potentially finding holes in the tank or smelling oil impacted soil, they chose the route of tank abandonment in place. While I can comment on every company doing tank work, but I am sure many recommended sampling due to future real estate transactions, but in the end, the companies get paid for doing tank work with or without sampling so you have thousands of tanks that were filled in place without testing that now have to be dealt with in a real estate transactions.  

soil sampling below a tank
We can personally  attest that Curren has always suggested soil sampling for tank removal or closure in place, some people deferred this testing.  About 17 years ago we made it policy, Curren won’t work on your tank if you don’t complete sampling.   We took this stance so property owners didn’t get stuck in a future sale and so people didn’t stick another person with a leaking tank. Unfortunately this was not followed by other companies.

Some 40% of tanks we have removed were tanks previously filled in place, so believe me if you have a property with a tank that was filled in place without testing, you will get it removed if you want to sell the property. 

No you can't climb inside a tank when filling it in place and see pin holes.  Ever get a flat tire?   Did you see the hole?   See the photo below?  This tank was removed, do you see any holes in the tank?

closed in place tank removal
Well there were a few holes that were apparent after the dirt was scrapped off the tank.  If this tank was filled in place and remained in the ground, there holes would not have been apparent if the tank was not removed.

abandoned oil tank leak

Many people like to present the local permit obtained for abandoning the tank.    People somehow think the approval from the town means the tank didn't leak.  Please note that no your local permit which the town approved for filling the tank in place doesn’t certify the tank didn’t leak!  It certifies you filled a tank in place with or without testing (which while legal, makes it harder to sell, ahem near impossible to sell)  mortgage companies, insurance companies and attorneys for buyers will have a hand in preventing the sale with an inground tanks.  Too much liability, unknown cleanup expense is what causes the hesitation.  No one knows if the potential tank cleanup is $10,000.00 or $120,000.00?

oil tank cleanup

If you own a house with an abandoned untested oil tank, expect to either have the tank removed, or the prior work to be reverse engineered, meaning all the material in the tank removed, holes cut in bottom of tank and soil ampler obtained, then the tank back filled again.  We just did this for a tank filled with foam under an addition, so yes it happens.   Buyers will want the know if the tank leaked, trust me if you were buying a property with an abandoned tank you would want to know the same thing. 

Have a tank question?  Call the experts

1-888-301-1050

 

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Expert Mold Advice

Aug 11, 2020 9:30:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in mold, mold remediation, mold consultant, professional mold remediation, mold professional, mold expert

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Expert mold advice, that is what you would want if you had a mold question - right?  Everybody wants the best available advice, but is it possible to get expert mold advice?   Finding a true mold professional is like finding a needle in a haystack.    It’s hard and rarely accomplished.  You can blame lack of government regulations as a source of the scarcity of mold professionals.  You see New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware have zero mold regulations, so every "Chuck in a Truck" can say they know mold.

Call for Mold Questions.

On a fairly consistent basis (almost daily to be fair) we get calls from people all over the country  that have questions about mold, or need us to interpret mold testing that a professional they hired cannot explain.   Fact, if you hire a professional, they should be able to provide professional advice in writing and be able to understand test results.   If your expert has a Gmail account, works out of their home or says they are licensed, I would say these are three common threads we find from people who have complaints with a mold company. 

expert mold advice

 

No mold regulations, means no licensing, no required competency or required training and testing, so what is stopping someone from changing careers,  say from selling cell phones to doing mold consulting.   True story I met someone with just that background at an event down the shore, suffice to say what they knew about mold was very little.  Or should I say, what they knew about mold was mostly inaccurate. Did you know the salt air and the pressure treated wood that are prevalent in coastal areas inhibits mold growth?  Well, either did he and he told me not to tell people that its bad for business, he said fear of mold sells.   Sorry, I can't make this stuff up.   

As an environmental consultant that consults on mold, you need to inform clients and provide recommendations on risk and courses of action.   You do not sell fear.   Mold is harmful to human health, that is established, I have had people not be able to inhabit a home, or office where mold growth was present.  I also have people who live in an environment where mold is present and levels in the air are in concentrations where I know health issues were triggered in other people, although the current occupants had no apparent ill health effects from the mold.   This is actually not uncommon as we all have our sensitivities to gluten, lactose and mold, so what might be harmful to one person may not be to another.  That is not to say mold is a selling feature of a property, it certainly is not but mold has to be looked at objectively.   

How to pick a mold company?

  1. Look for a company that at least 10 years of experience, 20 is better.
  2. Google their address, make sure they work out of an office, not a home.
  3. Check the ago of their web site address:  https://www.iplocation.net/domain-age     The longer a domain has been in operation, means the longer the company has been operating.   
  4. Ensure everything provided to you is in writing, meaning scope of work, what they will do, how they will test and what the test results will mean.  Look we all know an A grade is better than a C, and an F is the worst, well translate that into mold test results. 

At Curren Environmental we have built a base of knowledge on mold consulting and mold remediation over a 20 year period.   We meet all criteria listed above.

 

Mold expert

 

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Oil Tank Remediation Pennsylvania

Jul 15, 2020 9:15:00 AM / by David C Sulock

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Buried oil tanks rust (rust never sleeps) so oil tanks can leak.  

Pennsylvania oil tank remediation

Do not be naïve that the tank that you are removing is rust free and has zero chance of leaking.  Anyone you hire to remove a tank should discuss the possibility of the tank leaking and what the steps would be to address a tank leak. In short, it should not be surprised that a buried metal object decades old may have leaked, so you should be aware of your options.  

oil tank leak pennsylvania

 

In Pennsylvania what drives the need to remediate a heating oil tank discharge is if petroleum levels in the tank excavation are above the PADEP Statewide Health Standards relative to number two heating oil in soil.     The standards are as follows:

• Benzene:– (PADEP Standard is 0.5 ppm)
• Ethylbenzene: (PADEP Standard is 70 ppm)
• Isopropylbenzene (Cumene) : (PADEP Standard is 600 ppm)
• MTBE: (PADEP Standard is 2 ppm)
• Naphthalene: (PADEP Standard is 25 ppm)
• Toluene: (PADEP Standard is 100 ppm)
• 1,2,4- Trimethylbenzene: (PADEP Standard is 8.4 ppm)
• 1,3,5- Trimethylbenzene: (PADEP Standard is 74 ppm)

*Exceedance of any of the eight compounds indicates petroleum levels are above PADEP residential soil standards.  Please note that the most representative soil sample is one obtained below the tank which is only possible when the tank is being removed, or if the tank is being closed in place coupons or holes can be cut into the tank to obtain samples.. 

On the day of tank removal no one can tell you with 100% certainty that if they see holes in the tank that you need remediation.  You see without lab testing you don't know 100%.  If you are pushed to remediate right after a tank is removed, DON'T.   There are no savings and you risk spending money you may not have to spend.   We see firs recommending you jump into remediation if your tan leaks because they already have equipment on site, this approach is sure to lower your bank account balance with no guarantee of solving any problem.

remediation of oil tank in PA

 

So to understand oil in soil from a tank leak, you can compare it to cholesterol levels.   There are low levels of cholesterol (healthy levels,  that require you to take medicine or change your diet or life style) and there are high levels of cholesterol (you need to change your diet, possibly take medicine), in short high levels require corrective (remedial) action.  

You have to base any driver (need) to remediate a tank leak on laboratory analysis, which is obtained from sampling the soil after tank removal and which takes about a week to be analyzed by an independent laboratory.   So you sit in limbo for about a week to know where you stand.  Very similar to a Dr. visit with lab work.

Fact, many tanks, do not leak, many do, but not evert tank that leaks needs remediation.

Oil tank cleanup pennsylvania

Curren has over 2 decades of environmental experience, thousands upon thousands of sites worked on.  If you want professional advice from the professionals, call Curren.

Call Curren Today

 

 

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Foam Filling Underground Storage Tanks

Jul 13, 2020 8:30:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in tank foam, foam filling oil tank, foam tank filling

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Utilizing foam to fill an Underground Storage Tank (UST) can be a cost effective approach to closing a UST.   Injecting foam into a tank can save the cost of excavating the entire tank.  Larger tanks and tanks that have access issues & hard surface coverings such as asphalt, building, paving or structures tend to be the ideal sites for foam filling.

foam tank filling

IMG-3794

foam tank filling

 

Is foam filling appropriate and cost effective for every tank?

Short answer is it’s not cost effective in every situation.  People think you can just stick a hose into the tank and pump foam, but that's not the case. The tank must be exposed, entered and cleaned of all oil before foam can be injected. Also, residual oil in the tank breaks down the foam, so the tank must be thorough cleaned of oil or else you will have an issue making proper foam.  In short, you have to enter and clean the tank and for small tanks, it might take that much more effort to remove the tank, since you already excavated part of the tank to enter and clean it.

 

oil tank foam filling

No matter if you foam fill a tank, fill a tank in with sand/slurry or remove the tank there are still a set of tasks and associated costs that will be incurred, no matter the approach.

First, permits are required so the work can be inspected by the local municipality.

Second, the tank has to be excavated to some extent so the tank can be opened, entered and cleaned. You see, you have to clean the tank of all liquid prior to filling it or removing it. Cleaning entails going inside the tank. Now depending on the size of the tank, the physical act of exposing the top of the tank may actually entail exposing 60% to 80% of the tank, which at this point, it may just be another 10 to 15 minutes to uncover the rest of the tank, making removal not that much effort.
OIl tank under a porch

Third, once the tank is cleaned you need to test the soil, which entails cutting holes in the bottom of the tank. This actually takes longer than someone would expect as the person who cleaned the tank, has to leave the tank, change work clothing to cut these holes. Where as in the situation when you remove the tank it is much easier to sample the excavation as the soil is exposed.
soil sampling below a tank

Finally, you have the task of backing the area. If you remove the tank, backfilling is fairly straight forward as you have an open area to fill in.

backfilling an oil tank

If you are leaving the tank in place, you are tasked with placing material in the access hole you cut in the tank and pushing it to the far end of the tank. Remember the tank is a cylinder and you need to fill the cylinder completely, and sand is not self-leveling.

1-888-301-1050

Utilizing foam is convenient as it is self-leveling, but you also have to make the foam on site.

Mixing Truck-2

 

The prep for making foam can be 1.5 to 2 hours. It’s kind of like baking you need the ingredients, proper mixture and temperature). You also have about 2 hours to clean the foam trailer post filling, as the equipment and lines have to be devoid of the foam ingredients or else they will harden and clog hoses, fitting valves, etc. so you are cleaning the kitchen so to speak. Foam filling hits a sweet spot when you have hard issues for accessing the tank with other material such as sand or concrete. Also, larger tanks (tanks greater than 2000 gallons) are more cost effective to foam fill, as you realize the advantages of the foam cost structure verse the labor of using sand or slurry.

Propane tanks are uniquely suited for foam filling as they are pressure vessels and longer than the same size oil tank.  Longer tanks disturb a larger footprint to remove, so foam filling is an ideal solution for propane tanks.

Foam Filling the Propane Tank-2

 

 

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Bank Owned Homes & Mold

Jun 19, 2020 8:45:00 AM / by david sulock posted in mold, mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold contractor, Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold survey, mold assessments, mold consultant

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The recession of 2008 can still be felt today in the form of foreclosed properties that have been flipped.    These flipped homes look nothing like the home when it was bank owned.   Flipped homes certainly hold appeal for homeowners who want move in conditions homes.  The photo below shows a house that went through renovations.

flipped home-1

This is a photo of the same home same area pre renovation.   Note the mold on the wood furniture on the left hand side of the photo.

mold in home before flip (002)

Bank owned houses due to no occupancy, have wildly ranging temperatures and humidity fluctuations.  In short, the house gets hot and humid in warmer months, which allows mold to grow.  We have done homes where we come across mold on walls, trim, furniture, attics, basements and crawl spaces due to the house not being heated and cooled.  These homes also may be like this for years.  This certainly makes for homes that are in desperate need of rehabilitation, the question you have to ask is was the mold addressed?

Almost certainly mold in attics and crawl spaces are typically not addressed as these are not areas where the flipper will get bang for their buck or even look for repairs.

Basements typically get partially redone because it creates a living space that was not present before.  The problem is mold that has grown during the foreclosure process gets covered over by clean sheetrock, concealing the mold.  We have seen cracks in foundation walls covered by fresh sheetrock.

Basement mold

 

Basements in bank owned homes typically will have some levels of mold growth.  Again, when these homes are not occupied, there is a high possibility of mold growth.  

Why Mold Test a Flipped Home?

Many house flippers tend to look over the mold growth in basements, one because they are not aware it is mold growth and two, they are unaware of any water issues.  It is Curren's recommendation to always do  Mold Testing in basements of those homes that are being flipped, especially if they were once not occupied and a Foreclosure, sheriff sale, tax sale or bank sale property. There are times when basements are finished or re-finished and the mold growth is covered up, but not specifically remediated.  Meaning, mold will continue to grow and fester in these areas and will not just disappear.  

Attics are yet another area that are not in the realm of a house flipper.  When an house is not occupied for a period of time, humidity and moisture builds up, especially in an area that has no air flow.  Non-occupied homes do  not always have electricity and whole house attic fans, attic fans and humidistat attic fans will not turn on when necessary.  These situations lead to mold growth in attics.

mold can grow in an attic

Curren Environmental suggests Mold Inspections and testing in homes that have not been occupied for a period of time.  Mold growth will occur within 72 hours in the right environment.  Its not to say that home flippers are hiding the mold, they may just be missing that what they see is mold growth.  They are not mold experts.

Questions?

Call Curren Today

or email at info@currenenvironmental.com

 

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