In some situations during a building project, homeowners may dig up an oil tank by accident. While there may be an indication that an oil tank was once on the property, in other cases its use dates back to a time where records are more difficult to access (paper archives in a town hall). Some properties have been in families for generations, and it is only upon a sale or renovation that the oil tank has been discovered. Underground oil tanks have become unnecessary in some communities where other forms of heating are now commonly used. Former garage or workshop sites may have oil tanks which are no longer in use or needed. There are specific steps which must be taken in order to remove oil tank.
Permits and regulations will be your first steps in the oil tank removal process. Whether your tank is above or below ground, there will be specific ways in which your contractor will need to remove the tank. These regulations are in place to protect the environment as well as your property and the people who live there. Leaking oil can get into water wells and other groundwater supplies. It is also toxic to animals. In addition to the requirement to pump the oil tank dry, the oil must be taken to an approved facility and the soil then tested for contamination. The underground oil tank removal process will be lengthy, however, when it is completed your property will be more valuable than before the removal. Even if you were unaware of the existence of the tank, when you bought or inherited the property it became your responsibility.
Oil tank decommissioning can be achieved through two processes. In the case of an underground storage tank or UST, some areas allow for it to be filled in place. This is only for specific and approved situations where the removal of the UST would be more harmful to the environment or the integrity of the building. In many municipalities, the only option considered acceptable is the full removal of the tank and the process taken to decommission an oil tank. Upon completion of the removal, soil testing, and other environmental duties the company performing the service can supply a certified of decommissioning, including all relevant paperwork.
Certain steps must be taken when removing the tank. First, you will need a qualified contractor who has experience in oil tank removal. This is not something for amateur handymen to try! Your contractor or yourself will need to obtain a tank removal permit for your local fire authority. There may also be a permit for doing the excavation work on the property. Once you have the permits, make sure the underground power, natural gas, sewer, etc. lines are clearly marked. Your utility companies will come and put little flags indicating where the pipes go. This will show your contractor the places to avoid during the removal.
Next the oil is pumped out. The tank is removed. While it may seem like the job is now finished, there are a few more steps to go. The soil must be tested for contamination. If there is contamination then the soil and groundwater will need to be remediated. This could involve removing the soil. Get details from the contractor in the form of a report and photos which clearly state how the tank was removed, what was pumped out of the tank, a receipt from the location the tank was taken to, and how much soil was brought in to replace the space formerly taken up by the tank. You will also need any proof of remediation if needed, and the test results from your soil.
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