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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2019

    Default Buried Fuel Tank

    I work in VA and see many unused buried fuel tanks in yards. I have found that certain localities have no code to deal with this but there are state requirements that should be followed. When I see this I typically state what I just said and add a link to the State web site describing what should be done. Here is it is see if it is empty, then dig it up or fill it with foam. When asked if this must be done, I take no position but tell them to read the state's position. Interested to see how you all deal with this issue.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Chicago IL

    Default Re: Buried Fuel Tank

    We don't have a lot of oil tanks left around here generally. Most have been removed over decades of rehab.
    Normal houses around here typically have above grade oil tanks, i.e. sitting in the basement somewhere.
    Vintage upper bracket houses will more often have in-ground tanks.
    When I see a tank or evidence of a tank, I give people pretty much the same talk about checking to see how much oil is in it, maybe sand filling, etc.
    Different from you though I recommend people get rid of an old tank. A couple reasons for this.
    - if they go to sell it could come up as a buyer issue, very common around here for buyers or inspectors to make a big deal out of it.
    - while regulations now are pretty minimal they could get more detailed bringing about removal requirements or higher costs to remove at some later date.
    As an example, years ago in Chicagoland if you had an old oil tank you just put it in the alley. The tank would be gone before you knew it. Some junker would pick it up immediately for scrap. Now however the experienced junkers won't take a tank because they know it can be difficult to get rid of it at the scrap yard. Something about updated EPA regulations for scrap yards.
    While you used to be able to get rid of an old oil tank for free very quickly, not so easy anymore.
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  3. #3

    Default Re: Buried Fuel Tank

    In New England (at least where I work) the 'rule' (maybe not law) is to get the tank out of the ground prior to the sale. Banks may not give a mortgage to a property with a buried tank and real estate agents (at least most in my area) won't even take the listing if there is a buried fuel oil tank on the property. Too much liability. A tank that has never leaked could just cost $2500- 3000 to have it removed (under state supervision). A leaking tank could cost vastly more, especially if it has been leaking for a number of years.
    [ Story: I had a friend who had a garage with a large parking lot. When he went to sell the property they found that several very large fuel oil tanks were buried under the asphalt...there since the 1930's and nothing in them. But, under state regs the soil around the tanks had to be removed to get rid of residual oil/gas. So, they brought in all of this removal and processing equipment, dug a hole I estimated to be 50 X 75 feet and seven feet deep to get rid of the contaminated soil (that had probably been like that for 40 years). When they got to that point the cost was $250,000 but the told him that they couldn't give paperwork stating the site was cleared. So, they said they had to keep going, which my friend agreed to. Add on another $100,000+ in soil removal. But at that point my friend was out of money. The company doing the environmental cleanup company were done, admitting they would never have a perfectly clean side. They could have stopped at least $100,000 earlier. I've since had clients who previously worked in that industry who termed it a "scam". So, lesson is: don't buy until the tanks - and contaminated soil are removed.


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