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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

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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.

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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

 

Tank Removal Question

 

Professional Tank Removal

 

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Best Oil Tank Removal

Jul 16, 2018 1:31:38 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

1 Comment

 

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 $1,500.00. 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 $1,500.00, 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 $1,500.00. 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 a small remediation can cost over $5,000.00. 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 has 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, soil samples and will eventually sit behind a desk to type a report. That all takes time and there is a cost involved. Bottom line make sure the contract includes a report.

Tank removal site assessment soil samples when acquired for independent laboratory analysis provides quantitative not qualitative data. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have one comparative standard for number two heating oil in 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 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 is 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?

 

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