Underground oil tank removal could spell disaster for new homeowners. Buying a house with an underground oil tank is one of the most dangerous decisions a buyer can make. That’s because, if the tank were to leak or if oil pollution was discovered in the soil, comprehensive decommissioning and remediation may be prohibitively expensive.
Cleaning up a leak from an underground oil tank may cost thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the level of pollution — and the worst thing is that your homeowner’s insurance may not cover any of the costs.
Of course, not all oil-heated homes have underground tanks; some have above-ground tanks in the basement or on the porch.
Those who own older houses that have been converted from oil to another kind of heat are also at risk, as many homeowners abandon their subsurface oil tanks when the heating source is changed or they transition to above ground, leaving them without adequate drainage and disposal.
How to Determine if You Have an Underground Oil Tank in Your Home
If there is a tank underneath, it will usually be no more than 10 feet from the foundation of the house. Pipes jutting from the ground are the most evident evidence. A fill pipe is used to fill underground oil tanks with oil, while a vent pipe is used to exhaust the tank.
The fill and vent pipes have been removed in some cases, but the tank has remained. A test is carried out by a tank removal firm using a metal detector and ground-penetrating radar to determine the existence of an oil tank.
Copper pipes in the basement that have been sealed off are another sign of an underground oil tank. They might lead to an underground oil tank if they go outside the home and underground but aren’t plumbing lines.
Process Of Removing an Underground Oil Tank
The rules governing the removal of oil tanks vary widely from state to state. In Michigan, for instance, all underground oil tanks must be properly closed and removed within a year of their final usage. New York is likewise a supporter of the removal of underground storage tanks.
A professional tank removal service is frequently used to remove an oil tank since their skilled professionals have the appropriate expertise and equipment. Furthermore, removing an underground oil tank normally necessitates the acquisition of particular licenses.
Before an underground oil tank can be removed, it must be carefully cleaned and drained of any leftover oil. It will be pulled out of the ground and transported off the property on a trailer once it is ready to be removed. The tank is then appropriately disposed of and, if feasible, repurposed or recycled. The cost of removing a tank varies depending on its size and location, but it normally runs from $1,000 to $2,500.
If you have an underground oil tank and are aware of it, you should get it inspected regularly by an expert and insure it separately. Even taking these precautions will not protect you against a leak. So, what if your tank does start to leak?
Issues that Might Arise from a Leaking Underground Oil Tank:
If you have an underground oil tank, you’re in significant danger of having an oil leak – and whether you have one now or later, the expense of cleaning up tainted soil and water sources can run into the thousands of dollars.
You may need to excavate a large portion of your land to remove and restore the soil, as well as clean up any contaminated water sources. You must also repair or replace your tank in addition to the cleaning costs.
Homeowner’s insurance never covers these expenditures; if you look closely, you’ll usually find a disclaimer for oil tanks in your policy. Some states provide funding to assist with the costs of cleaning up oil spills, but because the number of claims exceeds the amount of money available, your insurance may only cover a portion of your costs.
Oil vapors in high concentrations, such as those produced by an oil spill, can be harmful to your health. Disorientation, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness, headaches, and other side effects are common in the short term. Long-term consequences on your health as a result of persistent exposure might be even more serious. If you can smell the oil, you should leave immediately to avoid any health risks.
Lawsuits that may be filed
You may face possible litigation from impacted neighbors in addition to the costs of cleaning up an oil spill and repairing or replacing your underlying oil tank. If your oil spill contaminates a neighboring well, for example, you may be sued to reimburse the costs.
Utility companies and government entities have been known to pursue lawsuits if …