Hot Environmental Topics

Do oil tanks exist under buildings?

Nov 2, 2022 3:50:00 PM / by David C Sulock posted in oil tank removal nj, oil tank removal pa, underground oil tanks, tank abandoned in place, filled in place tank, pa tank removal, leaking tanks, tank leaks, oil tank leaks

0 Comments

It is not unheard of that buildings are built on top of oil tanks.  Definitely not a good idea, but the structure was typically built either before environmental regulations or without regard for the regulations, or the oil tank. 

Oil Tanks Under Buildings

Every oil tank that is underground and even under a building has the possibility of leaking.  When a tank leaks you may have to clean up the leak, which requires removing soils (soil remediation).  How do you do soil remediation when you have a structure over the tank?    The photo below is a garage, where the walls were supported and the floor and contaminated soil was removed.  

Oil Leak in Garage

If you want to buy a house with a tank under the house or think of selling a house with a tank in this situation, think again.  The concern with oil tanks is they leak and if they leak you may have to clean them up and that can cost money.  I know a number of properties that owners tried to sell, but having a tank buried under the sunroom was a sticking point and prevented a sale.  The only way these houses went to the settlement table was by having the owner cut open and clean the tank and take samples to show the tank did not leak.  Yes, a project like this can cost thousands of dollars but these are costs that are the responsibility of the property owner even if they never used the tank and bought the house knowing a tank was under a structure. 

In practice, many tanks that are under a garage, house or porch we find are not leaking. Why?  Well because you have an umbrella over the tank being the structure.  The house keeps the tank dry which in turn inhibits rust.  Don't get me wrong some do leak, but the drier any metal is the more corrosion resistance will occur.

oil tank under porch

When decommissioning the tank a confirmation that the tank did not leak can be acquired by soil sampling.  This entails entering and cleaning the tank of all residual petroleum compounds (liquid and sludge).  The empty cleaned tank can then be removed and soil samples acquired from the tank excavation.    But in the case of a tank under a building where removal is not practical, you can cut holes through the shell of the cleaned tank and obtain soil samples.    

So you see there is no reason you can't take soil samples from tanks that have been filled in place.  People who own tanks do not want to take soil samples because they may get bad results.  The saying goes if you do not test you have a 100% chance of finding nothing.

managing oil tanks under houses

 

The photo series below is of a tank under the crawl space floor that was cleaned and tested.  The rub was that the tank leaked and remediation was necessary.  So contaminated soil had to be removed.

 

IMG_0600          IMG_1647

IMG_1660The tank was removed, and the soil contamination removed.  A picture is worth a thousand words.

Oil Tanks Under Buildings

Call the experts

Licensed in Delaware  Pennsylvania & New Jersey

Call Curren Today

tank experts

 

Read More

Best Oil Tank Removal

Oct 26, 2022 3:53:00 PM / by David C Sulock posted in oil tank removal, oil tank removal new jersey, oil tank removal nj, tank removal, oil tank removal pa

0 Comments

 

If you are involved with an oil tank removal project, it is probable your first tank removal and likely your last. The odds of you making the best decision are slim. Let’s agree that the best tank removal is one where the tank does not leak and you don’t have to remediate.

That said, you could expect a cost for tank removal on average to be about $1,800.00. This cost entails the time to get permits, equipment, and labor to excavate the tank, trained personnel to cut open and clean the tank, oil recovery, tank removal, soil sampling, backfill material, and labor, and ultimately a report from the company so you can document the tank removal. The tank report is completed weeks after removal and is performed in an office utilizing the notes and data collected from your site. Sounds like a lot for $1,800.00, well it is.

 Best oil tank removal

Let’s talk about what makes your tank removal the best tank removal.

Your cost is close to the average cost of $1,800.00. Why, well the firm that sells these services has to do the work at a market rate where they can make money. Otherwise, they are offering the work at a loss, with the plan that they will make the money on the backend, which is the remediation and even small remediation can cost over $8,000.00. You get what you pay for, remember that.

If you buy a house that had an oil tank, you want to know that the tank did not leak. The only way to know that is if you have testing completed. Being the owner of the tank you may think you do not want to have testing done, or else you may find a problem. After 25 years of dealing with tanks the bottom line question, everyone wants to know is if the tank leaked. Buyers and sellers because that answers can make or break a real estate transaction. Bottom line tank soil samples when the tank is removed

Why do many contracts for tank removal not include soil sampling? Short answer, it is cheaper. Soil samples cost $120.00 on average and with two soil samples being the average number acquired sampling can raise the cost by $240.00, plus the time to write a report that talks about the test results. Look, you are removing an old buried metal object, you are fooling yourself if you don’t think that rust and extensively have not occurred to the tank. Your low-cost tank removal company is counting on this and will be happy to give you a cost to remediate the tank once contamination is discovered.

Why do many contracts not include a report of the tank removal? Cost again is the culprit. If you write a report you need someone present during tank removal that will be taking notes, photos, and soil samples and will eventually sit behind a desk to type a report. That all takes time and there is a cost involved. The bottom line make sure the contract includes a report.

Tank removal site assessment soil samples when acquired for independent laboratory analysis provide quantitative, not qualitative data. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have one comparative standard for number two heating oil in the soil and that is by laboratory analysis. Visual, oil water agitation, or olfactory evaluations have no standards so you have no foundation to lay an opinion.

Residential tank removals do not specifically require that you obtain soil samples. This conflicts with the interest of a purchaser (mortgage or insurance underwriter) for a site when hard data is requested. Legally you do not need to test, if a buyer wants to test prior to purchase it is their due diligence and hence their cost. Obviously, it is less expensive to acquire samples from an open excavation at the tie of removal, as opposed to post-removal and backfilling.

What is the best tank removal? The best is one where testing and a report are provided as part of the tank removal. It is what is required for commercial sites, so why wouldn’t you do the same for a residence?Call Curren Today

 

Read More

Worst Oil Tank Removal.

Nov 1, 2021 9:51:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in oil tank removal, oil tank removal nj, tank removal, oil tank removal pa, NJDEP Unregulated heating Oil Tank program, abandoned oil tank, oil tank leak

0 Comments

The saying we get better with age, well that relates to a foundation of knowledge based on years of experience.   At Curren Environmental those that know teach, those that know, know from decades of experience thousands of sites.   We do peer reviews of the work of other environmental companies every day, thousands of reviews a year.  These reviews are both paper reviews (in office) as well as on site over seeing work for clients protection.  Needless to say we see the good and the bad.  The bad is also not always the cheapest price.  Bad projects have a common thread of promising things that they cannot deliver on or to be put frankly telling the client what they want to hear, even though this may be the opposite of what other firms are saying.  Key topics, don't worry about a leak, we can manage the leak if one is found, lastly we can remediate for a lump sum and we do not need any testing data (these firms have x-ray vision.

bad tank removal

Recently I had to oversee the removal of a residential oil tank.  The tank was actually found via a GPR tank sweep by Curren. The  owner had no knowledge that a UST was present Tank Sweeps with GPR.    Owner got a really inexpensive cost to remove, so client (buyer) wanted the removal to be overseen.   Now I am not saying cheap isn’t good, everyone wants a bargain, you don't want to pay full price, but you also get what you pay for.  Cheapest is rarely best, its the cheapest.

The photo below shows one of the onsite projects reviewed. I knew that the person wearing gym shorts at 9 am  and no shirt  meant the day was going to be interesting.  Let’s start by saying, gym shorts and a tank top are not proper work attire.  It’s was a hot day so the gym short person took the tank top off, at was maybe 9:10 am.  Things didn’t get better from there.

Oil tank removal problem

 

improper tank removal

Yes that is a person inside the tank with no PPE (personnel protective equipment, respirator etc.), completely not according to regulations.  

Although the company had lettered vehicles they spelled remediation wrong.  If you say your do something  you should be able to spell it.  

worst tank removal

So the tank gets excavated just enough to clean it.  Took them 2 hours to remove the tank after cleaning, because the tank was 80% buried. They couldn't see the logic in uncovering the tank to the 50% mark so the earth wouldn't hold it in place.  Over the course of two hours, they damage the driveway, killed mature shrubs and after removal hit a sewer line that would have been avoided had they had gone into the basement to evaluate for utilities.  Inspecting a basement to see where underwound utilities enter is excavation 101, utilities are not marked accurately 100% of the time, property owners may not know on where what utility is located and lastly not all utilities get marked.  In any event the damage could have been avoided.

Now the good part, tank is removed and it requires two inspections.  No one knew of or when that would occur.  To be brief they had no inspection, took no soil samples (sampling is the only way you can 100% verify the tank did not leak) and backfilled the hole.

How do you avoid tank removal mistakes?

To be clear removing a tank is not building the international space station, but there are a slew of regulations and protocols you must follow API, OSHA, NIOSH.  You can check reviews on line for sure, but here are some tips that can find out the good from the bad.

  1. Was the person you spoke with more car salesperson than environmental consultant?  You don't want to be sold into making a decision.
  2. Did the company walk you though the steps they will follow?  This is an easy one and even the bad companies do it.  
  3. Did they  put their steps in writing?  Again easy.  There should be a report stated in writing you will receive after removal, its super important.
  4. Did they discuss the possibility of a leak?   What about if levels of oil are above standard?   What are the standards?  What amount of oil is permissible?  Look every tank could leak so you need to know the dark side of a tank removal that leaks, this needs to be discussed and put in writing.
  5. Is their email a Gmail or yahoo email.  It might not sound like much but if a company doesn't have a hosted web site with hosted email with their domain, well you maybe buying into a Chuck in a truck.

It's tough to compare environmental services to other industries, but our office get a large share of property owners gripping about how the hired the wrong company.  To be fair most people will never have to remove two tanks in their lifetime or complete two mold projects, so you are doing something once and likely won't do a good job at it.

Want expert advice and deal with professionals?

Call Curren Today

 

Read More

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

2 Comments

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

 

 

Read More

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

0 Comments

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

 

Read More

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

1 Comment

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

 

Read More

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

3 Comments

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

Read More

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

0 Comments

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

Read More

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

0 Comments

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.

Read More

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

1 Comment

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

 

 

Read More

Subscribe to Email Updates

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

see all

Recent Posts