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

Jul 27, 2021 10:59:00 AM / by David C Sulock


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 or call 856-858-9509.  


Topics: tank removal

David C Sulock

Written by David C Sulock

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