Hot Environmental Topics

Why every home sale should have a tank sweep performed.

Oct 20, 2021 12:15:00 PM / by David C Sulock

0 Comments

Tank sweeps/tank scans have exponentially increased in popularity for home buyers.   While a home inspection has always been part of buying a home, a tank sweep has become just as common.  The reason tank sweeps are so important is because a small tank leak remediation averages around $10,000.00     Remediation in excess of $100,000 are not uncommon either.

How do you know the home may have oil heat and a tank scan is prudent?

  1. Oil heat was the choice of fuel source for close to 100 years
  2. The older the home the more likely there was oil heat.
  3. Many property owners removed evidence of their oil tank in lieu of removing it.
  4. Many people also filled tanks in place as per construction codes, but never checked for leak's.
  5. Many people bought homes knowing a tank was removed and not tested.

People also  bought homes that they knew had a tank filled in place.   Below is a true story. 

Curren was hired to do a tank sweep. Owner of home greeted our technician with "The tank guy is here". Curren locates a tank and informs our client (buyer).

Owner of home within 48 hours, releases paperwork for the tank.  Apparently  the tank had been filled in place in the 1990's by the previous owner.  In short, current owner bought house knowing tank was on site but did not disclose this nugget of information when the home was listed for sale.  Buyer was a little angry that this paperwork magically appeared.   Makes you think what else these sellers are not disclosing. Curren is hired to remove the underground oil tank,  and it is found to be leaking, buyer backs out of deal. 

tank previously filled in place

Another true story.  Many people also filled tanks in place as per construction codes, but never checked for leaks. Owner is upset,  and said the tank was not a big deal to them when they bought it.   Remediation completed  was completed and the property was eventually cleaned up ($42,000) and sold nine months later.

soil_remediation

Ever heard of Midnight oil tank removal?  It's when someone who is not licensed removes their oil tank so no one knows that they removed it.  Even though the tank has been removed, no soil samples were acquired and they may not have removed the supply and return line.  

Do your due diligence and do a tank scan prior to purchasing a property. 

 

Read More

What is a Phase II ESA and do you need one done?

Oct 12, 2021 11:15:00 AM / by David C Sulock

0 Comments

Curren touches thousands of Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) every year.  We either do the Phase I or we review the old one.  We also speak to first and multiple time buyers of commercial properties. Curren prepares, reviews and/or utilizes hundreds of Phase I ESA reports every year.  Curren also interacts with a significant number of residential, commercial and industrial property buyers, sellers or their attorneys. 

Most buyers/sellers and real estate agents have an idea or a vague idea of what a  Phase I & Phase II are all about.  Most also [buyers] have a basic understanding of the different Phases for site assessments, but it’s typically a basic understanding. Although Phase I ESAs are generally similar, Phase II assessments  can vary significantly from state to state and will vary based on what the investigation is directed at solving.  If you manufacture something, provide a  service or perform some management expertise you have no doubt more knowledge about these topics  as it pertains to your business, but you may not have a complete understanding of the potential environmental considerations involved while performing that process.   Even if you read this web page and spend hours reading many others, you don’t have the seasoned experience, or the actual practical knowledge of investigating and addressing potential environmental concerns comes with the experience that Curren Environmental has developed over decades of performing such work. So many people think they understand basic environmental risk, however,  several millions of dollars have been spent with Curren relative to people managing environmental testing and remediation after they have owned the property.   It is as basic as not completing the right level of Due Diligence when purchasing a property.  There are untold numbers of property owners who did not complete a basic Phase I ESA or ,at minimum, a Transaction Screen so that there is some level of understanding of the potential environmental pitfalls associated with a property.   This DIY environmental due diligence may work for some people, but we typically get involved with the sites where the lack of proper environmental due diligence creates thousands of dollars worth of problems after purchase.  Obtaining professional advice could provide insight into potential problems for buyers prior to you being responsible and provide options for property owners where environmental issues exist.  

Bottom line you do a Phase I because something may have occurred at the property that has some form of environmental risk, and the risk is having to spend money to address an environmental issue.

As I write this post, we are doing soil borings at a building, because a Phase I found a risk and a phase II found contamination.   We are now trying to define the extent of the contamination. 

It can be an uphill battle to  complete a Phase I but typically when other professionals in a real estate transaction recommend a Phase I (attorney, mortgage company) a Phase I is performed.  The bigger battle is when a Phase II is needed, people ask why look for a problem?  Well, because problems cost money.

understanding a Phase II

Why was the Phase II not stressed enough?  

In a word Phase II is testing.  You test to see if something in a Phase I poses a problem.  A Phase II could be $500 or it could be $16,000 (both numbers of Phase II’s we recently completed.).  The cost is not the topic, the issue is by doing the Phase II you are affording yourself protection.  Not doing a Phase II, well you open up a can of risk.   Case in point we have a company, a franchise, for a well known consumer brand.  They purchased a property, did a Phase I, and the Phase I flagged some potential open issues on the property.    A Phase II was not done, why the client didn't tell us, but  after spending over $50,000 in remediation their complaints were loud and clear.  Why was the Phase II not stressed enough?  

why is a Phase II important?

Hey if a doctor tells you to watch what you eat and exercise more, the doctor is not going to chase you down and hound you to do it (maybe they should) and  neither is your environmental consultant.    You are likely going to spend thousands of dollars for a Phase II, it's your money if you choose not to do a Phase II it is your decision.  (*Banks like Phase II work, because they have first hand knowledge of the risk.  In short they know a Phase II can save money in the long run.) 

Phase I & Phase II

Why do people skip Due Diligence?

Bottom line the company wanted to buy the property, it was the best property for their needs, they wanted it and ignored or didn't see the warning signs and they paid for it years later when they went to sell.  

 

Phase II Testing

Could they have done the Phase II and fixed the issue before purchase?  

Likely yes, but you can’t step in your time machine.  From experience when we find contamination after a Phase II, the vast majority of time, it gets fixed and the property gets sold, either to the original buyer or another one.  When the sale doesn’t go through it typically relates to time it takes to perform the remediation or the cost of remediation.  Trust me if the buyer wanted the property bad enough and the math worked, no amount of remediation cost would deter a buyer, but every deal has limits.

To be clear many Phase I’s don’t require a Phase II.

Guaranteed anyone contracting for a Phase I, buyer, seller, mortgage company, bank, nobody wants the Phase I to lead to a Phase II or III, because if it does it could create a problem and the deal may not go through.  This is true time and again, if I had a nickel for every time someone said they hope the Phase I is clean, I would have a bathtub full of nickels.

Hire professionals and listen to professional advice.   If a phase II is warranted do it.

Call Curren Today

 

Read More

Why Metal Detector Tank Sweeps Fail?

Oct 6, 2021 11:56:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in OIl Tank Sweeps, tank sweep, gpr tank sweeps

0 Comments

Tank sweeps, or tank scans are an evaluation of a property for a buried Underground Storage Tank (UST). Unfortunately, these sweeps/scans have become generic to so many and people are unaware of the limitations, between both the companies providing the scan and the technology used.

Metal Detector              Pat GPR Office-1

                             Metal Detector                                      Vs.                         Ground Penetrating Radar

Best price, means least expensive technology (metal detector), for example would purchase a 5SE phone vs. the IPhone 12? Maybe for your young kids, but not for you. The best  utilized  technology for locating underground oil tanks is Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR).                     

An example of using a metal detector as opposed to a the Ground Penetrator Radar - Curren was provided a report from a client who asked for an underground oil tank removal. Oil tanks were discussed in the report. The tank locatoror who provided the tank scan with noted the following: “While conducting the oil tank scan it was noticed that there is the possible presence of an oil tank at the front of the home. This was noticed using Schonstedt magnetic locator which detects the magnetic field of ferromagnetic objects. The object that was detected is 3ft x 5ft. After detecting this object a 4 ft probe was inserted into the ground in this area and we detected a object about 3 ft below the surface. A qualified oil tank removal company should further evaluate to determine the size and depth of the possible tank. This company should also conduct proper soil samples to determine if a leak is present at the possible tank.” Several photographs were also included to indicate the meter utilized, and the areas investigated. 

Instead of doing another scan with the Ground Penetrating Radar, the client asked Curren to remove the said underground oil tank found with the metal detector. Curren mobilized equipment and labor to remove the #2 fuel oil UST (subject tank). Curren excavated in the area identified in the Tank Inspection report to a depth of 9’.

No tank was located. Curren then excavated toward the residence additionally to 9’. No tank was located. Curren inspected the basement for copper lines and no copper lines were found.

Conclusions & Recommendations

The conclusions are based upon the review of available information, field observations and test results obtained during this project. Curren Environmental, Inc. does not assume any responsibility for using this report for purposes other than those indicated in the specific area investigated.

Based on onsite observations, the areas indicated in the report were investigated, no underground storage tank was located in this area. The client, ended up spending a large sum of money to remove an oil tank that was not there.  

What is a metal detector? "Metal detectors use electromagnetic fields to passively or actively detect the presence of metallic objects. Passive detection measures the changes in the Earth's magnetic field caused by an object."  The photo below shows some debris, that debris was located by a metal detector.  Curren was contracted by client to remove the "underground oil tank".  The metal detector tank sweep found debris, not an oil tank. 

buried metal debris from metal detector tank sweep

What is a ground penetrating radar system? Learn more here.

 

 

Read More

What kills mold after a flood?

Sep 29, 2021 8:20:00 AM / by David C Sulock

0 Comments

"What kills mold after a flood?"  It's becoming a pretty common question to our office.   Killing and controlling mold are two different things, let's focus on controlling mold, as you want to have the upper hand with mold.  

2018.10.26 12.06.31.535-1

If you have water entry from a flood or a storm, the number one thing you have to do is dry out the area.  Mold will grow when things are wet.  

Ever leave wet clothing in the washer?   Can you smell the mold?

Yes, if you can dry a wet area within 48 to 72 hours, you will prevent mold growth.   Water is needed in the life cycle of mold, so if you can cut the water off you will stop mold growth.

You have to understand invisible mold spores are everywhere, they become a problem when they land on a wet organic surface.   When you get water entry in a building or a home, immediately the wet areas create a conducive environment for mold growth.    Mold colonies will continue to grow as long as the moisture level is high.  But other surfaces in the room can also harbor mold because the moisture content in the room where water entry occurred is also a great area for mold to grow. 

Pro Tip:

Keep humidity levels below 50 percent will discourage mold growth.  A run of the mill dehumidifier will control humidity. 

Humidity levels below 50 percent will discourage mold growth

Aside from drying out an area after a flood or heavy rain event, you can apply a fungicide to kill the mold spores present in the room.  Dead spores will not reproduce.  Bleach will kill mold spores, as well as many fungicides you can buy at home improvement stores.   There are even some Covid-19 disinfecting compounds that kill mold spores (read the label).   To apply a fungicide to control mold, the absolute best way is by fogging or misting, this allows a more thorough treatment.   To be honest, using a small trigger sprayer is just not as effective to treat an area.

Call for Mold Questions.

How do you know if you have a mold problem?

  1. If you smell the distinctive musty odor, you are smelling active mold growth.
  2. If you see discoloration or spotting on surfaces, that you can wipe with a finger, if it comes off you may have mold.
  3. You can have a professional mold inspection performed of the problem area.   Inspections are performed by trained personnel who have completed hundreds if not thousands of inspections and have also performed remediation so they know they know the signs of a mold problem.
  4. Air testing for a complaint room is also a great way to look for hidden mold, this is typically performed at part of a mold inspection, but not always, as obviously mold growth typically does not require testing. 

FLIR0231

Call Curren Today

 

Read More

Are free Mold inspections scams?

Sep 23, 2021 2:33:00 PM / by David C Sulock posted in mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold contractor, Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold survey, mold professional, Mold, Mold growth, mold remediation

0 Comments

It is not uncommon for mold to be found at a residence. Mold will grow silently over years in areas of your home that you may not even go in. 

Free mold inspections
During the home inspection or a mold inspection, mold  will show up during a real estate transaction. The rub with mold is that someone may see staining and call it mold or during a  home inspection, the inspector may test a surface for mold and confirm mold and then you are left with the knowledge that mold is present. What you won't know is why it grew, how to prevent it in the future and to what extent the mold is present.

The mold dilemma is there are only 11 states that have mold regulations so the industry lacks real mold professionals. If you are in NJ, PA or DE there is no mold licensing so in theory you can't find a mold professional or you can't find a state licensed professional.

The lack of mold regulations create no barrier of entry for someone wanting  to do mold work.  If you don't need a license  that saves you a lot of time and brain power.

Companies try and drum up work by offering "Free Mold inspections".   Are mold inspections truly free?    The time to give professional advice is not free,  as there has to be a cost involved to evaluate a property and provide professional advice. Free mold inspections, should read, "You are going to pay me to remediate mold if you need it or not". In the photo below, an inspector said that was mold and recommended remediation. 

Mold or water damageProfessional mold inspections can average around $500, plus or minus depending on size of property and if surface or airborne sampling is performed.

mold inspectionsLet's be clear we have given thousands of 2nd opinions over the years and there is always three common threads we find with mold advice.

  1. Many owners of properties that are told they need mold remediation, do not actually need mold remediation.
  2. Mold often grows back when the mold was inadequately addressed. Read, consultant never stopped the actual cause of the mold. (Leak, moisture intrusion, humidity, etc)
  3. The mold testing person doesn't understand the results of the mold testing, the cause of the mold growth or the actual extent.  Case in point inspector sampled a crawl space and a basement that were connected. We were asked to provide a cost to remediate the crawlspace, when in fact the basement had the bigger mold issue and people used the basement to exercise, so the mold exposure was greatest in the basement, but that is not what the consultant recommended.    The problem with non-mold professionals is they like to take a samples because they will get a really long, slick looking report of lab data, which is all pretty boilerplate, but it looks nice.  Because the lab gives such a nice package the actual mold consultants feel they do not have to provide an opinion in writing, it happens all the time.    So they find mold but they can't say it doesn't have to be remediated, why it would need remediation, what would be the difference or really most important what is the cause, causes or even likely causes for the mold.  

Regarding the "report".  A mold inspection report isn't the lab data from the lab, it should be a written report detailing the inspection, what was found, what wasn't found, and most importantly is why was there mold in the first place.  The report should also go over, in detail, what the lab data means, along with photos.

The bottom line is many mold companies work in their best interest not that of the owner or client.  This is particularly true if you are being offered free advice.

 

Read More

Mold From Flooding

Sep 15, 2021 8:15:00 AM / by David C Sulock

0 Comments

Hurricane season is half over for 2021 and New Jersey as well as many parts of the country have experienced flooding from storms.  Hurricane Ida hit NJ with heavy rain and flooding.    Because of the flooding our office has been inundated with calls regarding concerns of mold from water entry in home's offices and businesses.   

mold from flooding

People are concerned about black mold and toxic mold and want a professional opinion.  First, black mold and toxic mold are made up terms and do not exist.  Curren has done more inspections and consulting on these impacted properties then with Super Storm Sandy.  We have also given out a lot of fee advice to "talk people out of having mold inspections" performed or being sold a mold remediation they did not need.  

The fact is, many people who do mold inspections/remediations rely on fear and general misinformation, as opposed to a rational approach, which looks to see if what happened had the likelihood of causing mold to grow.   There is a real fine line here because if you rely on mold to make a living, we find people push remediation when it really isn't warranted.

For Curren we do  a lot more than just mold so a mold job here or there doesn't make or break our bottom line.     The snap shot of some of our excavation equipment (which isn't used for mold remediation) keeps us busy doing non mold projects. 

At Curren what is important is people are treated morally and ethically.

IMG_0590

Our deepest sympathies goes out to the people displaced from the flooding, to help others we would like to offer some perspective and help bring down the level of anxiety people have regarding mold.

basement flooded mold

So people are calling wanting inspections and remediation of mold growth, most of the properties in question fall into two distinct categories, those that have a mold problem from the storm and those that do not.  The difference between the two are like Yin and Yang.

basement water causes mold

Basement got several inches of water from the storm, do I have mold?

So the basement had water entry, you were home and you saw it, clearly you could have a concern about mold, but you likely do not have a mold problem.   If the home retained power and you removed the water within 48 hours you likely have no mold growth attributable to the flooding.  (you might have mold that grew over the years, which is not uncommon in older homes).  

Call for Mold Questions.

The reason a few inches of water didn't cause mold is that mold needs 48 to 72 hours to start to grow.  If you can make the space dry within that time frame, you need not be worried about mold.  Removed the water means, you pumped the water out, dried the area and have a dehumidifier operating.  If you ran a fan, you only put the moisture into the air and that creates a super moist environment and mold can grow.

Basement was Flooded for days

Basement was flooded and water was measured in inches and feet, property lost power house was wet for over a 3 days or longer owner was not in the house during the flooding.    99% of the time in this scenario you have mold.

rainstorm mold

Creating a swimming pool in a building elevates the humidity and moisture to the points that surfaces are saturated and the mold that is invisible and always present is provided the ideal conditions for growth and rapid growth at that.    Once the mold grows it will likely get worse because it will be hard to dry out the building quickly (you may not have power, a working pump or access to buy vacuums and dehumidifiers since bad weather affects everyone and can make a mad rush to the home improvement store, can anyone say Snowstorm?)  You may also have an insurance claim that you want to be seen by an adjuster.  

The key take way here is the length of time the space was wet, the shorter the less likely you need mold.  If you question the need for mold remediation, use some common sense as follows:

Do you smell musty odors?   Musty odors are associated with active mold growth so if you smell it you likely have it somewhere.

Do you see discoloration of organic surfaces?  Mold can be white, grey, pink, black, so if you see staining that wasn't present previously well then you likely got some growth. 

We have over 20 years experience with environmental consulting including mold.

888-301-1050

Read More

Are mold inspections free advice?

Aug 4, 2021 9:30:00 AM / by David C Sulock

0 Comments

You get what you pay for, is free ever free?    Free means there is a catch.   Free mold inspection, mean, I will make money on mold remediation if you need it or not.

are free mold inspections free?

Regarding the photo above, do you need someone to complete a mold inspection?   The answer is yes, because you have to remediate the mold but you also want to know the causes of the growth.  Yes causes, there are typically a few reasons that compound upon each other to fuel mold growth. 

Mold happens, it grows silently and relentlessly.  In a perfect world you would only notice mold outside, because you see it everyday but don't realize it, how else do leaves, mulch and grass clipping breakdown?   The rub is all those items are organic and unless you live in  a glass house, you have organic material that mold would like to consume.

 

expert mold inspections

So don't be surprised if mold is in your home and its found during the sale of the house, or maybe you find it due to odor, visual or health concerns, those are the common situations that trigger our involvement with mold.

Professional mold advice is an oxymoron, since New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware have no mold licensing you are hard pressed to find a company that would actually be professional.  Add to the fact that there are mold remediation franchises, it tells you how popular mold is.

People I consider to be mold professionals, mold experts, mold guru so to speak, well they have years of hands on experience and use tools to perform inspections, such as the thermal image photo below.

Inspectors should have spent time actually remediating mold, so they have the hands on understanding of mold, learn by doing, not just inspecting.

 

best mold inspections

 

How to Find a Mold Professional

I am going to offer some sage advice on mold remediation, based on thousands of mold projects and 20 plus years doing those projects.  aka where have I seen mold failures and mold successes.

Don't hire any mold person working out of their house.  Why, well mold remediation is labor intensive and you need equipment and labor which a one may show must subcontract (read hire cost, lower quality control).    Second when you review mold testing data its nice to get a 2nd opinion two heads are better than one.  We require all our reports get a 2nd review and opinion in our office.  It's hard to proof read your own work and 2nd opinions matter. 

Are Franchisee Mold Companies good?

Franchise Mold is a hard pass.  Look a restaurant franchise is fine, everybody has to eat, not everyone needs mold work, but a franchise must pay fees and you will pay for those fees, we see it all the time the franchises have awesome marketing, but high prices and low quality of work, we inspect and have seen what they call remediated, what we see is something that needs more work.   We also get calls about franchise warranty work, its very common that franchises change owners and new owners don't want to warranty the work (read not get paid) for the prior franchises mistakes. 

The mold company must be able to define the cause of mold, not just want to remediate the mold.  Bottom line you don't fix the mold cause, mold will come back, see it all the time, all the time.  

Hire a company that can test/inspect and remediate. Yes I know that goes against common advice you read, but hear me out.   We charge for mold inspections, because we are professionals and can on average find the mold cause within about 15 minutes of a site inspection, we can also test for mold and actually understand what the test data means.  The point is mold inspections are a fee for hire professional service and worth the money.  Hey if we find mold, sure we can provide a cost to remediate, if we don't end up doing the mold remediation, no harm no foul we were hired and paid for an inspection and that's fine.

 

See the photo below this was a mold air test supplied by a person working out of his house.  The sampling is 100% wrong, because the sample collection was on the ground no breathing height.

Air Sample Equipment
The photo below shows the proper way to test the mold for air, which is at breathing height on a tripod, center of the room.  You do this to avoid bias in the sample.
mold inspection with testing

Understand the fox guarding the hen house. 

The opposite of my above statement, is don't hire someone to both test and remediate.  I get it, but lets pull the layers of the onion back.  One, if you feel like you are being sold a service, you likely are. 

Professionals don't sell, they provide objective data and allow you to make an informed decision.  Nothing is free, a free mold inspection has a hidden cost, which is being sold a remediation that may not be needed, maybe over priced and typically will be needed to make up for the free inspection.  Sorry folks you get what you pay for.

 

Black Mold is a Scam

Don't buy into black mold.  Black mold is not a mold, its a color but it is also a sales word use to scare people (you have the black mold).   If you get pitched with scare tactics, you are getting sold. 

Quick story, I mold inspected a basement for a young couple buying the house.  There was mold throughout the basement, mold was present due to a couple issues.   After buying the home, the couple was planning on making a part of the basement an exercise room for the wife, who also had an asthma issue.   Another another area was going to be a play room for kids (it was a descent size basement).  One of the kids had asthma.    Again the basement had heavy growth throughout the space, I don't scare clients, I inform and make calm statements. After the inspection I explained what I saw, afterwards the couple said "so the mold is not that bad, we don't need to do anything"?  This was a lightbulb moment, my calm statements lulled them into not seeing what I was seeing.  I had to switch gears and walk them around again and show them that mold was present (white greyish in color, no black).  I had to clearly say the mold was heavy and worse than a lot of sites I inspect, mold remediation was 100% needed and at a minimum the wife and child would be at risk due to their health issues.  The wife in particular as she would be doing cardio in a basement (not a lot of fresh air) just sucking in the spores.  They remediated, but I learned I have to ask people to spit back out what they think I said or even wrote in a report.  

Mold inspections are a professional service and like any professional service there are fees involved.  These fees pay for the advice and paying protects your best interest as their are no hidden agendas to recoup money from doing something for free.

Call for Mold Questions.

Professional Advice 888-301-1050 for over 20 years. 


 

Read More

Top 10 "Things to Know" prior to your oil tank removal.

Jul 27, 2021 10:59:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in tank removal

0 Comments


INTRODUCTION:

Our office gets a constant influx of calls from property owners who had an underground oil tank removed and ended up with issues from the company removing the tank (not Curren Environmental).  Tank issues include spills during the tank removal, permit issues or lack of obtaining permits,  no report included in the price and worst of all over the top expensive remediations that were not warranted. 

What you need to know before you remove your tank:

  1. Licensed Company. Did you know that an unlicensed company could remove your oil tank?  It is true, but it is always better to hire a firm that is licensed for Closure (removal) and Testing (Subsurface).  Some companies have only one of the two required certifications.  If you hire the firm that can only remove and not test, you will have issues if remediation is needed, as they will have to subcontract services.  Hiring a licensed firm ensures that you are dealing with a firm that is capable of performing the tank removal through to completion.

  2. Permits. Every tank removal requires a permit from the local construction office.   Each permit has a fee, while you may not know the exact cost of the fee - you need to be made aware of the fee.  The company who removes the tank (assuming you hired a licensed and insured firm) should always apply for the permit themselves. If a property owner applies for the permit, they are taking on the responsibility of ensuring everything is performed to code.  Property owners are neither licensed nor insured and do not have the knowledge on tank issues to assume that liability.

  3. Tank removal costs. On average, removing an oil tank can cost between $1,200.00 and $2,000.00.  What makes a tank removal more costly is the work involved. Larger tanks cost more.  Tanks that are harder to access such as under decks or beneath asphalt/concrete can cost more.  That said, you get what you pay for has never been more true, choosing the lowest price can cause you to sacrifice quality.  Many firms lure people in with a low cost for removal knowing that a remediation of a tank leak can be between $5,000.00 to $15,000.00 (on average).  Ensuring they get to remove the tank means they have a better chance at recouping monies by remediating the tank leak.  Sometimes selling remediation services when they are not necessary.

  4. Did my oil tank leak? This is the Number One question Curren Environmental is asked.   Tank removal companies can be very vague in explaining how they know your tank leaked.  To understand how to know 100% is to know the difference between qualitative and quantitative.                   

    1. Qualitative data is the description of data in a language rather than in numbers. This method does not measure the characteristics but describes them. Meaning, the tank removal companies sees a hole in the tank or smells the soil and it smells like oil or not, so the company says the tank leaked and you have to remediate it.  To put it more plainly in lieu of having your cholesterol tested the doctor guesses by looking at you.  

    2. Quantitative data is data that can be numerically counted it deals with measurements like height, length, volume, area, humidity, temperature, etc. Quantitative data would be testing of the soil after a tank is removed so you know 100% what the concentration of oil is in the soil.   Again, it can be compared to having your cholesterol level tested by getting blood work done.   Bottom line if you don’t test the soil, you don’t know if you need to remediate or not.

  5. Assume your tank is not leaking. This is the backbone of most every tank removal contract Curren Environmental reviews. To be fair, it is an assumption and possible, but there is always a chance that the tank is leaking, even if it is a 1% chance, don’t you think that the tank contract should include a line item discussing what would happen if indeed the tank did leak.

  6. No soil sampling listed in the tank removal contract. If your contract has no reference for soil sampling, be concerned, because when the tank is removed you will be told that they just know you have to remediate. Holed Tank with writing.jpg

  7. NJDEP reporting and obtaining a Case Number. Did you know that if the removal company sees a hole in the tank after the tank was removed they must call the NJDEP and get the property placed on the Known Contaminated Site List?

  8. What level of oil requires remediation? If you have a tank leak, only testing of the soil will determine if remediation is required.  Your tank contract should include what the testing standards are, meaning how much oil is permissible in the ground.  Did you know that anything above 5,100 ppm for EPH demands remediation in New Jersey?  Did you know anything below 1,000 ppm for EPH is fine?  Did you know that if you are between 1,000 ppm and 5,100 ppm EPH you might not have to remediate (further testing is necessary)?

  9. If the oil Tank Leaked now what? What if your tank leaked – what does the company do now? The company you contracted with should delineate, which means obtain soil samples to determine the size (area) of the leak. Not just guess the size so that they can make more money off the remediation.  In short, oil will spread out when it leaks from a tank, you need to obtain soil samples BOTH in and around the tank location to create a 3D model of the plume of contamination.  The company calculates the area length, height and width to determine how much soil is necessary to be removed.  If you do not follow this step you are more or less guessing.

  10. Do you due diligence. Get more than one quote. Make sure the company has been in business for a long time and that they do not work from their home address or a PO Box.  Everything must be in writing.


Fill out the form below for your Oil Tank Removal Check List.

Contact Curren for more information regarding your tank removal at info@CurrenEnvironmental.com or call 856-858-9509.  


 

Read More

Home Inspection finds a buried oil tank.

Jul 21, 2021 11:03:09 AM / by david sulock posted in OIl Tank Sweeps, tank sweep, gpr tank swep, foam filling oil tank, gpr tank sweeps, gpr tank scan

0 Comments

What  happens when a home inspection finds a possible underground oil tank?

A common request our office receives regarding a tank sweeps.

"Hello, I'm selling my home and we suspect that the buyer did a tank sweep with a metal detector vs GPR. They supposedly think they found a tank on the property. We do not see any evidence of a tank, nor was one disclosed by the previous owner (who bought the home in the 70s, house is 80 years old). Is it possible that this 'tank' is just a gutter drain pipe, part of our sprinkler system and/or rubble backfill such as a chunk of concrete sidewalk with rebar or metal containing soil? If so, would a GPR scan be conclusive? Thanks."

This is a common situation we get from property owners who are told they have a buried oil tank.   The owner has the question regarding if the meta detector is reliable.    Here are some common talking points...
  1. The property owner is unclear how the suspect tank was found.  Was it found with a Metal detector, or  Ground Penetrating Radar or both? (both GPR and a metal detector would be best) The solution would be having the owner receive a copy of the Tank Sweep Report so they would have a baseline regarding what they found and where. Yes, every professional service should come with a report, no report, then question how professional the service was.
  2. The property is over 70 years old, so while the owner has no knowledge that there was an oil tank, they also have no documentation that there was not an oil tank. A 70 year old property most likely had oil heat at one point in time as oil was very popular in the past and other fuel sources such as natural gas was not commonly available or financially appealing until the 1970's.
  3. The tank scan found a buried object, presumably metal. If only a metal detector was utilized, you can't say 100% if the metal found is a tank as metal detectors detect metal and properties have all sort of buried metal. Metal can be in the soil naturally, you could have buried debris, buried metal pipes or surface metal (like a fence) that distracted the metal detector and have a false buried metallic signature reading. Happens all the time. A metal detector on a sandy beach is great it will find buried metal, likely a bottle cap, but people hope for coins or expensive jewelry. People paying a couple hundred dollars for someone to use an $800 metal detector to find a tank are also helpful.
Call Curren TodayThe photo below was where a metal detector thought there was a tank.  There was no tank, just soils with a metallic signature.

tank home inspection

The guy in shorts, is using a $900.00 metal detector and found a suspect tank in the front yard.

metal detector tank scan

When you scan for a tank, the more expensive the equipment the better.   GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) costs tens of thousands of dollars because it has the technology to do the job.

best oil tank sweep with gpr

 Effective Oil Tank Scan or Oil Tank Sweeps like on commercial sites would use GPR as it will                            provide a signal (image) of buried objects.

buried oil tank found via GPR

The signal above shows the underground oil tank. 

Purchasers of commercial properties are more aware of the liability associated with leaking USTs (Hundreds of thousands of dollars) compared to a residential home buyers (Homeowners think a few thousand dollars is a lot.) So on the commercial side of real estate tank sweeps are completed with GPR, not metal detectors. Most environmental consultants that perform tanks weeps will use GPR and discount the cost for residential sites. Nobody wants to see someone buy a house and find a $50,0000 cleanup is required.

What if a buyer finds a suspect tank?

This is a really hard question because it relies so much on the quality of the tank sweep.    If they used GPR, if the property is likely to have had an oil tank (older the home, the more likely) and if the buried anomaly has the signature of a tank.  Well then you have to excavate and confirm that object is an oil tank.

Who pays for the oil tank removal?

Owner will pay 98% of the time as finding a hidden oil tank is a defect that needs to be addressed.

Do they have buried oil tanks at the beach (shore)?

If the home wanted heat, then yes homes along the coast and on islands had buried oil tanks.  Oil was king up until the late 1970's in New Jersey.  The photo below is of a home we scanned on a barrier island.  Many older beach houses eventually converted to natural gas, as gas could also  fuel the stove, dryer,  hot water heater etc.   After conversion to gas, it was not uncommon that the tank was just left in the ground.  So short answer beach houses had oil tanks.

Tank sweeps at the beach

What if a suspect tank is found and we don't believe its a tank?

Short answer prove your opinion right and dig it up and verify its not a tank.

What is the best tank sweep?

Using Ground Penetrating Radar is the best technology for finding buried tanks at properties, period.  Can you use a metal detector to verify a GPR signal that identified a tank?  Sure, always verify the object is metal.  GPR can't penetrate metal so when a GPR sweep pings a tank, it means the radar can't penetrate the object (likely a metal tank) but there are buried concrete tanks.  Metal detectors can verify an object is metal, but a metal detector  should not be used to be your sole technology

Call Curren Today

Read More

Tank Scans & Tank Sweeps in Delaware

Jul 12, 2021 8:43:14 AM / by David C Sulock

0 Comments

Oil Tank Sweeps,  Tank Scans, GPR, Ground Penetrating Radar...

We have recently been getting a large influx of calls from buyers in Delaware concerned about the need to perform a tank sweep.    Delaware famously known as the First State has a long history of oil heat.  In Delaware as in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, many property owners filled their oil tanks in place when they stopped using the tank.    Its basic math that when you convert from oil to natural gas or propane or even electric you are spending money.  You would spend even more money if you do something with the oil tank, so many people just cut off the pipes to the buried tank to more or less remove any evidence of oil heat.   Some filled the tank with sand, fewer still actually removed and tested the tank.  The most money spent with an oil tank?  Well that is when the tank leaks as the photo below shows you how bad a tank leak can get.

why tank sweeps are so important

The liability associated Underground Heating Oil Tanks (USTs) is fairly well known to most buyers and sellers nowadays, but our office still gets calls regarding why a tank scan should be performed.  

We explain that historically home heating oil has been stored in Underground Storage Tanks (UST’s). Homes built in the early 1900’s to around the mid 1990’s are most likely at risk to having a buried oil tank.  When tanks leak, homeowners can face environmental regulations originally written with businesses in mind, not residential homeowners.  Property owners can face cleanup costs in the thousands of dollars, and find their homes difficult to sell, because banks and mortgage loan companies do not make mortgages on properties with abandoned, untested tanks.  Rust never sleeps and Underground Oil Tanks will not last forever.

 

Fact

After over two decades (1998) of performing tank sweeps, it is not uncommon that after we find a tank, and the property owner SUDDENLY has an epiphany about the tank.  They suddenly remember that there was a tank on the property when they bought it and they even have paperwork for it.  Our clients  are almost always taken back but this sudden revelation of information.  The common denominator is the seller was hoping we wouldn't find the oil tank.

People hide tank because they bought the home not understanding the liability associated with a leaking tank.  Delaware is just becoming more aware of tanks as an issue as the migration of buyers from New Jersey and New York who have first hand knowledge of oil tank leaks.   Bottom line tanks rust in any state.

leaking tanks delaware

 

The laws in Delaware are set that when you own a property you own the problem, the courts have ruled that a current residential property owner with a leaking underground storage tank that was decommissioned or "closed" prior to the property’s purchase is now liable for cleanup costs. The residential real estate market must conduct their due diligence to include inquiry regarding underground storage tanks. You buy the property you buy the problem.

 

Tank Sweep Questions?

An oil tank sweep is like a home inspection but is specific to one thing, finding an "undisclosed" buried oil tank. Tank sweeps are becoming more common in the real estate sales process.  Today both sellers and buyers are having tank sweeps performed due to the large concern over leaking tanks.  All anyone has to do is google "oil tank leak" and you will find a plethora of scary web pages, photos and horror stories of tanks leaking and the expensive headache filled experience that ensues.

The internet has made everyone more informed regarding topics that were once only known to professionals.   People now know that when you buy a property you buy the good and the bad with a home.   Good school system, check, safe neighborhood, check, oil tank leak and associated cleanup, check.   You buy a property and don't perform due diligence, you are at fault and responsible for imperfections and repairs to a property.

GPR scan is the best tank sweep 

So what is a tank sweep? 

There are two types with disparate costs and variable results.

First and most basic is a sweep performed with a metal detector.  These sweeps utilize metal detector that can cost only a thousand dollars and yet the charges to perform a tank sweep with a metal detector range anywhere from $50.00 up to $250.00.   Their low cost is based on the low quality of the sweep and the low cost of the equipment involved.   Metal detector tank sweeps are typically hand stamping a transaction that a tank probable isn't present.   These sweeps while on the surface make sense (buried metal, metal detector should find something), they are a needle in a hay stack.   Geology on any property will have some amount of metal (ferrous metal deposits) naturally occurring, as well as from the development of the site (we have found screws, nails, license plates, buried metal trash..  Buried metal can include buried pipes that service or serviced the property including electric lines, water, sewer, drains, as well as surface metal such as fences, metal used in the home (most tanks are close to the house).   Concrete sidewalks, driveways and patios can have wire mesh or metal rebar in the concrete that can set off a metal detector and give false positives.  All this buried metal is competing for the attention of the metal detector and can give a background reading and can mask the actual tank when encountered. This happens by the buried metal fooling individuals performing a tank sweep to adjust the sensitive of the metal detector due to the detector constantly spiking (beeping) from the background metal on a site.  Therefore, while a metal detector sounds fool proof it is the more foolish of the two options. 

The second type of tank sweep and much more throughout utilizes GPR or ground penetrating radar.   These scans range in costs that are comparable to a home inspection, but utilize specialized equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars.  GPR is not fooled by buried debris as it utilizes radar as a detection method. Like sonar, radar sends a signal into the ground.  This radar signal can't penetrate buried objects with density such as metal tanks and accordingly when radar finds a tank, the signal is reflected back to the surface where a screen reads a graphical interpretation of the objects.  The signal is best described  as a pyramid reflection.  Pipes return a small pyramid, tanks return a bigger pyramid.

buried oil tank GPR tank sweep

If you want to get more technical, GPR radiates short pulses of high-frequency EM energy into the ground from a transmitting antenna.  When the EM energy (wave) encounters the interface of two materials having different properties, a portion of the energy is reflected back to the surface. Buried Oil tanks or metal pipes reflect the EM signal back to the surface, indicating a found buried object.   If the signal does not encounter a buried object the EM signals goes deeper into the ground indicating no object found.  The difference between these two readings is what allows a GPR technician to determine a buried object from normal soils. The radar can go through concrete and asphalt.

best tank sweep

 

abandoned oil tank found via GPR

Tank sweeps with GPR

So why hire a company like Curren to do a GPR tank scan?  First, we provide turnkey solutions including tank locating, removal testing and remediation.  Our technicians have been involved with tank removal so they are familiar with the various ways a tank system is constructed and thus know what to look for when performing a tank sweep.  When you hire a firm with over 20 years of service experience, you are dealing with a firm that has helped thousands of client. Our repeat customers and referral network is large and a testament to the quality of our service.

Curren completes tank scans with equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars.  The least expensive and reliable are metal detectors.  If you did not know, 85% of oil tanks are within a few feet of the foundation of a house.  Houses have metal, underground pipes have metals, buried metal can be found naturally and by man on any property.  These smaller metal signatures can confuse a metal detector and provide false readings, both when a tank is and is not present.   GPR does not have these limitations. 

Curren Environmental has over 20 years’ experience with tanks and all work is performed in house and by company personnel, this ensures both timely execution of projects as well as cost savings by avoiding subcontracting.  Curren is licensed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).

tank sweeps with GPR

 

Tank Sweep Questions?

 

Read More

Subscribe to Email Updates

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

see all

Recent Posts