Hot Environmental Topics

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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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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Should I buy a house with a buried oil tank?

Jun 10, 2020 10:15:00 AM / by david sulock posted in oil tank removal, oil tank removal nj, oil tank, oil tank leak, buying a home with a tank

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Should I buy a house with a buried oil tank?

Buying a house with an oil tank is one of the biggest financial liabilities a home buyer can assume.  Buried oil tanks and Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs)  leak over time, and the oil pollutes subsurface soil and leaches into underground water.  Bottom line, oil tank leaks are expensive and owners of contaminated sites are responsible to clean up these leaks.

Environmental regulations dictate what is permissible amounts of oil that can remain in the ground. If oil levels are above permissible limits you have to remediate, remove contaminated soils to clean up the oil. The owner of the property is the responsible party. Small oil tank leak cleanups will cost around $10,000.00 and large soil remediation projects can exceed $50,000.00 even up to  $100,000.00. At that point, sellers are motivated not to make a big deal about an oil tank and buyers have to be cautious about buying a house with an oil tank.

 

oil tank remediation

Oil tanks are confusing for those involved, as these oil tanks and leaking oil tanks have laws, regulations and liability    Oil tanks have liability like that of driving your car, risk is everywhere, but to understand the risk with oil tanks you have to look at the tank on a molecular level.

First 98% of oil tanks are made of steel. Steel rusts.  During the life-span of a tank it will eventually leak.  

all oil tanks will leak evantually

The home below was built in 1968, tank was removed in 2019 = 51 year old tank.

buying a house with an oil tank 

90% of tanks have exceeded their designed life expectancy.

New tanks today, on average, have of 10, 20, 25 and 30 year warranties, depending on what tank you buy.  Clearly the more expensive tank has the longer warranty.  The tank on the left has a 30 year warranty, the tank on the right if bought today with a basic warranty would have a 10 year warranty.

 

Double wall Tank 30 year warranty

Above Ground oil tank Leaking-1

 

Think about buying anything, how focused are you on the warranty?  can you remember how long the warranty is on your car, dishwasher, hot water heater?

Calculating back from the year 2020, the following would be the age of a tank from the home you are buying.  Rarely EVER do people replace USTs with a new UST. Think about the following:

  • Home Built in 1940 has a 80 year old tank
  • Home Built in 1950 has a 70 year old tank
  • Home Built in 1960 has a 60 year old tank
  • Home Built in 1970 has a 50 year old tank
  • Home Built in 1980 has a 40 year old tank

 

Is buying a home with an oil tank a good idea?   Well if the oil tank has been replaced and you have a warranty, then you have a good baseline regarding when the tank will need replacement.  This unicorn and rainbow scenario is likely three percent of transactions where an oil tank is present. The norm is the seller will say "I bought the house with the tank and so should you".

Mortgage companies and insurance companies are well acquainted with the liability of oil tanks.  Residential buried oil tanks consistently cause trouble for home sellers and home buyers.  Sellers do not want the liability and many want to sell the home "as is" with the underground oil tank.   Buyers, are more informed than ever and they don't want to buy a leaky tank.   Add in mortgage lenders who are wary of  buried oil tanks and may refuse to provide loans to purchase homes having them. Insurance companies may not want to write a policy for a property with an oil tank.  

If you are buying a home with an oil tank, the best advice is to ask the owner to remove and replace the oil tank.  The reason being, the tank is most likely well past a reasonable life span, and when it leaks you will not know, it's not a roof where leaks are obvious.  It is also not always worth testing the tank due to the age, regardless of if you get a passing tank test, there will be a recommendation to remove the tank due to take age. 

If your trying to sell a home with an old oil tank, read the paragraph above.  No one wants to buy an old tank, which by all standards (common sense included) is old and should be replaced.  If you are the last person holding the straw and are responsible for removing the tank, I am sorry, I would give you the same advice if you were buying a house with an oil tank.

 

Call Curren Today

 

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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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Tank Removal from Homeowners Association Property

Mar 10, 2020 11:15:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in oil tank removal nj, tank leak, oil tank, oil tank removal pa

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Many planned developments used heating oil.  In developments where the condominiums are housing, the homeowner does not own the land where the oil tank is located. In condominium housing developments most heating oil tanks are usually placed on common ground.    So you have a situation where you must remove the tank from property. The condominium owner does not own the heating oil tank. Homeowner associations, as anyone who has dealt with one, have many restrictions on what you can and can't do, they also make you jump through hoops to remove oil tanks.  These restrictions, while meant to maintain order and assure that work is performed professionally, also add to the oil tank removal cost.  We call these project "White Glove Tank Removals", as they require the white glove treatment.

Curren recently completed a project and  from the photos below, it is hard to differentiate the before and after photos. Hence the white glove treatment. 

IMG_2103

The tank is in the planting bed between the dwelling and the sidewalk.  Planning ahead, allowed the parking spots in front of the tank to be clear to allow access.

IMG_9133

The blue line is an old landscape sprinkler line.

Next you hand excavate to clear PRIVATE utilities.  Most all homeowner's associations have no clear idea regarding what utilities are where, so you hand dig to clear the excavation.

IMG_9137

You dig until the top of the tank is exposed.

removal of previously filled in place oil tank

This tank was previously filled in place with sand. 

IMG_9138-1

To remove the previously installed sand, you have to cut the top of the tank off so the soil can be scooped out.

IMG_9129

Soils were removed and placed into a dump truck that removed the soils from the site.  This tank was in New Jersey and New Jersey doesn't allow you to back fill with soils removed from an oil tank.

IMG_9140

This is the after removal photo.

Tank removed and back filled, almost like we were never there.

Over 20 years of experience and thousands and thousands of tanks removed, when you engage Curren Environmental you get our experience and expertise.  This may be your first and only tank removal, for us it's just what we do.  If you want your project completed professionally, call Curren.

Call Curren Today

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Should you test oil tanks?

Sep 10, 2019 8:00:30 AM / by david sulock posted in oil tank removal nj, tank removal, oil tank, underground oil tanks

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If an oil tank has been removed and showed no visible signs of leaking, should soil samples still be taken? An oil tank was removed and showed no visible signs of leaking, the tank removal contractor did a pressure test and passed. As the buyer of the property, I am concerned that the tank area has not been tested.

testing removed oil tanks

To test or not to test an oil tank at time of removal? We get that question almost daily from both owners of tanks and purchasers of a property where a tank will be or was removed. Should you test an oil tank?

Does your dentist test your teeth via x-ray to look for problems? Does a doctor perform testing on patients? Can you determine cholesterol from just the physical appearance of a patient? My point being throughout life you have professionals performing testing to evaluate your health, testing a removed oil tank is the same principal.

The most important question about an oil tank is if it leaked. Owners of tank don’t want to test because they don’t want to find a problem. Buyers want oil tank testing performed because they don’t want to buy a property where an oil tank leaked.

The cost for testing most tanks at time of removal is a couple hundred dollars. Not a budget breaker for sure but finding even a small leak can cost thousands of dollars to address and the party responsible for cleaning up any tank leak is the property owner. So, buying a property with a tank leak (even if the buyer didn’t know if the tank leaked at time of purchase) is the responsibility of the property owner.


Common scenario, buyer want to purchase a home that had prior oil heat. The oil tank was removed previously (tank removed years ago). Sometime the tank was removed by the current property owner, sometime the tank was removed by a previously owner and the current owner was not aware of the liability from oil tanks and didn’t question the lack of testing. Buyer is concerned about buying a home where a tank was removed. So, in addition to performing a home inspection, the buyer wants soil testing completed from the removed oil tank grave. Post removal testing involves drilling and obtaining soil samples from the former tank location. Do we find some level of oil when we test removed tank location, yes. Do we find remediation is required from this testing, sometimes yes. Is the owner shocked when wee find contamination from removed tank areas? Sometimes owners are surprised as they bought the home prior to removal and didn’t view the oil tank as a liability. But there are definitely times where the owner has a hint that oil would be found and was hoping no one would look.


Testing removed tank locations is not as easy as you would expect. As time passes the restored ground returns to normal and little evidence of the tank grave is visible. Owners have selective memory of where the tank was and often point to absurd locations where the tank was removed. This requires sleuthing on our part and performing rows of soil boring to attempt to find the proverbial oil tank in the haystack. Any detection of oil found from a tank area is reported to the state as a spill clearly occurred.

Photo with boring info on it

Know before you buy a property that had oil heating. Testing is always advised by tank removal companies (The good ones at least). If testing was not performed, you have to ask, why? Buy a home with an oil tank leak and you just purchased an oil tank cleanup.


Over 20 years’ experience with oil tanks. Want expert advice? Call the experts’ 888-301-1050.

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What you should know about removing an oil tank.

Mar 4, 2019 8:44:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in oil tank removal, oil tank removal nj, NJDEP HOTS, NJDEP Unregulated heating Oil Tank program

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What you should know about removing an oil tank.

Since the northeast part of the United States was part of the original Thirteen American Colonies  we have a longer history of oil heat than other parts of the country.  You can find oil heat in homes that were built before the mid 1980's going to 1900.  If you have a house circa 1800's or the early 1900's there is almost 100% certainty that oil heat was utilized at some point. Heating oil was stored in either aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) or underground storage tanks (USTs) for heating homes, and other commercial applications. Nearly 100% of oil tanks were constructed with steel, fiberglass wasn't even considered for commercial use until the 1970's and even then commercial use was limited and residential was near nonexistent. Rust never sleeps and all steel will corrode over time, buried tanks will corrode faster than aboveground tanks, thinner tanks faster than thicker tanks. The reduction of sulfur from heating oil to help with clean air actually increases biological activity in a tank and this bacteria can crease corrosive byproducts which can actually corrode a tank from the inside. 

What does removing an oil tank involve

It has been estimated that almost 100% of the buried oil tanks have exceeded their reasonable life span and should be replaced.  (The average warranty on a new tank is 20 years, a great roof has 40 year shingles, so you do the math). How long does an oil tank last?  The number for ASTs nearing retirement is closer to 50% as many of the AST are newer, having replaced older USTs.  Oil tanks are rarely ever replaced and almost never with another UST.  If a UST was replaced with an AST it was probably because there were issues with the UST taking on water or losing product.  To put tank age in perspective:

Home Built in 1980 = 39 year old tank

Home Built in 1970 = 49 year old tank

Home Built in 1960 = 59 year old tank

Home Built in 1950 = 69 year old tank

Compare tank life span to common wear and tear items:

Roof shingles last 20 to 40 years

Hot water heater 20 years on average

 

What you should know about removing an oil tank is that there is a possibility that the tank leaked and any buyer of the property  will want testing performed at time of removal to document that the tank didn't leak.  In short, do not buy a property that had an underground oil tank removed without a report documenting the removal and associated soil testing.

Common questions we get asked about buying a home with an oil tank:

Would I buy a house that:

Had oil tank removed with no soil testing or report, no.

Tank removed, owner has a page of lab day, no report, no.

Tank was filled in place with sand, no soil testing, no.

House has an in use underground oil tank, no 

If you want to know why no was the answer to each question, call our office and speak to a professional  856-858-9509.

For a property owner removing an oil tank, when they speak to firms concerning oil tank removal the possibilities of a leak and necessary soil testing should be discussed and put in writing as leaking tanks can spiral projects costs into the tens of thousands of dollars.  I say this as we get calls from people who had a tank removed and they feel a bait and switch occurred.  They never discussed the tank leaking, hired the cheapest company and after removal the company pointed out the smallest hole in the tank to owner and construction inspector to ensure they tank fails inspection.  What followed next was a $10,000.00 estimate for remediation, that's when our office gets called.

What you should know about removing an oil tank is it is a very complicated process, in particular in New Jersey.  In August of 2018 NJDEP revised regulations requiring 5 soil samples to be obtained from an oil tank that is removed and evidence of a leak is noted.  NJDEP Oil Tank Regulations August 2019  Our office has yet to see any tank removal proposal since August that references these new regulations and the required soil testing.  I know this as we get THE CALL from unhappy tank removal clients and the contracts they signed for tank removal are vague and ignore the steps you have to take if the tank leaks.

1-888-301-1050

Why do NJDEP regulations require you to take five soil samples when a tank leaks?  The soil samples are meant to thoroughly evaluate the tank excavation for oil levels. You see rather than assume the tank leak requires remediation, the NJDEP wants you to test each sidewall and the bottom of the excavation, this allows you to make an informed decision as there are a couple possible outcomes from an oil tank leak, here are a few:

  1. Oil tank leaks you acquire the five post removal soil samples all samples have oil but nothing above permissible limits.  No remediation, financial disaster avoided, although you do have to pay for the testing, NJDEP report and the $400.00 review fee.
  2. Of the five soil samples acquired one is above permissible limits.  This is good and bad news.  Bad news you have to remediate, good news you know WHERE you have to remediate.
  3. Tank leaks and you take no soil samples.  You assume all good as you have no testing data saying you exceed; tank firm assumes all bad and remediation required since they have no testing data saying all good.  The rub here is you the tank removal client is not supposed to know all the ins and outs of the regulations, which were not discussed with you prior o removal.  Even if your oil tank has a 1% of leaking, is it not important the scenario of  a tank leak be explained in writing to you?  If the answer is no, don't read any further.

Curren Environmental has been performing tank removal for over 20 years, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.  Our office will take the time to discuss your project answering all you questions and discussing the good and the bad.  A common statement we tell clients is we tell you what you don't want to hear, meaning we discuss the downsides meaning the leaking tank situations so you are at the least aware of the possibilities. When you receive a written scope of work from Curren what was discussed is in writing including soil sampling cost and NJDEP reporting if required. If you want a professional opinion, a professional tank removal and most important a professional report documenting the tank removal, call our office.

Oil tank experts

 

 

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How to remove an oil tank.

Nov 5, 2018 10:14:32 AM / by David C Sulock posted in oil tank removal, oil tank removal nj, oil tank, NJDEP HOTS

1 Comment

 

How to remove an oil tank.

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

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

 

Heating oil tank systems new jersey

 

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

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

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

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

Soil Sampling

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

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

Hole found in the tank

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

 

2018-06-27 10.16.15

 

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

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

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

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

 

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Tank Closure Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Is my residential heating oil tank regulated in New Jersey?

Sep 25, 2018 8:43:32 AM / by david sulock posted in oil tank removal, oil tank removal new jersey, oil tank removal nj, oil tank, NJ HOTS

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Is my residential heating oil tank regulated in New Jersey?

 

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

 NJ oil tank removal

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

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

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

 Tank previously abandoned in place with sand

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

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

 oil to gas conversion

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Tank Leak Assessment

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

 

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

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

residential oil tank leak

 

Construction Permit Approval

 

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

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

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

 

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

Jul 25, 2018 9:11:47 AM / by david sulock posted in oil tank removal, oil tank removal new jersey, oil tank removal nj, tank removal, tank leak, oil tank, oil tank removal pa

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

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

 

home tank removal

 

A tank removal report is important.

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

Tank removal soil sampling is really important.

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

Not all oil leaks mean you have to remediate.

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

 

Holes in oil tank, but oil in bottom of tank

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

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

Getting something in writing is really important.

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

The cheapest price is not the best.

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

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

Do something once and you are a novice.

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

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

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

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

888-301-1050

 

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