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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.

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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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Buying a House with an abandoned oil tank.

Jun 2, 2020 11:45:00 AM / by david sulock posted in oil tank removal nj, EDA tank grants, tank leak, underground oil tanks, filled in place tank

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If you are purchasing a property with an abandoned oil tank, be concerned that you are playing with fire.  Let's be clear, the concern with any oil tank is if the tank leaks.  If the property with the abandoned oil tank has a report that includes soil testing you should not have any concerns,  but that is not the common situation when a property has an abandoned oil tank.

The real hurdle regarding a property with an abandoned oil tank is that the owner does not want to do anything with the oil tank.    People will say the tank is fine, that they, themselves, purchased the house with the abandoned tank so its fine for those homeowners because they don't have the monies to remove the tank. 

So what is the underlying issue? The homeowner doesn't want to find that the tank is leaking.  It's costly to remediate, and they can easily pass that along to buyers who don't do their due diligence.    In some cases, buyers are tempted to take a credit for tank removal to allow the sale to go through.

oil tank leak

This photo is from a leaking oil tank.  Cleanup cost exceeded a $100,000.00

I cannot advise having the work performed after settlement as you do not have enough data to determine what would be a prudent amount of money to set aside in escrow in the event that the oil tank leaks. For your reference, a small oil leak can cost $5,000.00 to $10,000.00, with larger oil leaks costing tens of thousands of dollars. In the absence of a written narrative (report) from the tank closure company and associated laboratory analysis that would have been performed during the closure activities, you cannot say that the tank does not represent an environmental issue.

Oil tanks represent an unknown financial liability that can affect the value of a home, the ability to obtain a mortgage and homeowners insurance. Since the abandoned oil tank is the hurdle to overcome in a real estate transaction, removing the oil tank is the logical course of action.

An Abandoned tank, closed in place tank, decommissioned tank, can mean many different things.

Abandoned oil tank can mean:

Tank is abandoned, stopped using it and left it "as is".  Think of it as an abandoned car.

abandoned oil tank

This oil tank was abandoned 11 years ago when they switched to natural gas.  About 75 gallons of oil was left in the tank or should I say abandoned.

Oil tanks abandoned in place means something was done to the tank, like filling the tank with sand, stone, concrete or foam.  The question is was the tank cleaned and sampled?   A report would help secure this situation and address concerns of a tank leak.  This situation commonly has no documentation regarding the tank leak, the reason being is the owner didn't want to find  a problem, so no test, no problem can be found.  This is legal, but leaves the unanswered question regarding a tank leak to be answered when the property is sold.

Tank abandoned in place with a permit and inspection by township, city or municipality.   This is the most dangerous of abandoned tanks as buyer and sellers assume that the permit and inspection portion of the work certifies the tank as non leaking.    This is actually not what the town inspects for they inspect for the physical work completed. 

Abandoned oil tank, no paperwork, current owner bought it with the abandoned oil tank.  Tank was abandoned from a prior owner and there were promises that it was done properly but you have no written documentation.

tank abandoned by owner

This tank was abandoned in place, we removed sand, slate pavers, bricks and beneath all that was oil. 

Tanks abandoned in place and the work was done by the homeowner with some friends. No permits, but a really good story about what hard work it was to do.  Yes - this does happen and 99% of the time the DIY tank abandonment is not performed as well as it could have been performed.   Think about it if you have never done something before how good are on your first attempt?

tank abandoned with foam

This tank was foam filled, but the tank was never entered and cleaned.  So oil remained in the tank.   You can see how the foam is discolored from the oil.

 

Tank abandoned in place, but the tank was actually best served to be filled in place due to obstructions.  Meaning there are tanks by pools, under decks, under garages, basically in a location where it would be excessively expensive, even dangerous to remove so the tank gets abandoned in place.  This is common on commercial tanks as commercial tanks are larger and longer and removal causes a larger footprint of disturbance.  In this circumstance after the tank is cleaned samples are acquired and a report documents that yes a steel object remains on the site, but it is technically no longer a tank as it can't hold  liquid (there is a big hole cut into the top of the tank).   This is what we do to document commercial tanks that are abandoned in place, you should expect the same for any residential tank.   Why an abandoned tank may not have a report is either the owner not wanting to test and find a problem, cost, owner went with the cheapest company (cheap means something is lacking) or simply the company that did the work doesn't test, or isn't licensed for testing. 

2020-04-17 11.17.16

2020-04-17 12.02.42

25 plus years of oil tank work, Curren Environmental can confidently say 99% of oil tanks can be removed.  So many abandoned tanks should have been removed but were not.   Don't buy a property with an abandoned tank that you are  not 100% certain it did not leak.

Call Today for Expert Advice and Service. 

1-888-301-1050

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