Ask The Charlotte Home Inspector

Your Charlotte Home Inspection Questions Answered!

Ask The Charlotte Home Inspector header image 2

Gastonia Home Inspector Finds A Buried Oil Tank

June 18th, 2009 · No Comments While performing a home inspection in Gastonia NC, Gastonia home inspector Prestion Sandlin found a buried fuel oil tank. What are the dangers associated with buried oil tanks? Buried oil tanks raise increasing environmental, safety, legal and economic concerns for home owners and home buyers because oil leaks underground or even within buildings can lead to both environmental damage and very costly cleanup operations.

Having to install a new above ground indoor oil storage tank involves significant expense, perhaps $2000. to $4000. to remove the old tank and install the new one.

Removing or abandoning a buried oil tank is more costly. If an oil tank has leaked the cost to clean up contaminated soils can be very significant, so much so that a property buyer should not complete the purchase before questions about the condition of oil tanks, past or present at the property, and the chances of leaks from buried oil storage tanks have been answered satisfactorily.

Home heating oil tanks are excluded from Federal Regulations about oil storage tank reporting and monitoring, but in almost every U.S. state or Canadian province, storage tanks are addressed by state or local DEP/DNR/DEC agencies and regulations. For example, in New York, even residential storage sites must be reported to the state DEC if more than 1100 gallons are stored at a single site. (A few U.S. states specifically exclude the regulation of storage tanks when used for home heating oil.)

In any case, should a home heating oil tank causes a release of oil into the environment, at that point the owner of the tank is not exempt from the other provisions of the State or Federal Regulations: the leak needs to be reported (often within two hours of observation), the source of leak/spill would have to be stopped, a site characterization would have to be completed, and appropriate corrective action (cleanup) would have to initiated, and the incident would have to be reported. Above ground oil tanks and clues for the presence of buried oil tanks are not usually examined during a pre-purchase home or building inspection unless specific prior test arrangements have been made.

Oil tank inspection, other than casual visual inspection for obvious leaks is not performed by such inspectors.

Oil tank tests for leaks, soil tests for oil contamination, soil tests for corrosivity, screening for evidence of prior or abandoned oil storage tanks, as well as oil storage tank removal or abandonment require that you use an appropriate expert.

However articles at this website outline easy on-site visual observations that any thoughtful observer can make to spot evidence of a present or previous buried tank and to spot evidence of leaks or other problems with above ground storage tanks.

From a previous use, a buried oil tank may be present or may have been present at a property now served by an indoor, above ground oil tank or even by LP or natural gas.

So don’t assume that because you don’t see a tank that none was ever used or present at a property

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: Environmental Hazards

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

You must log in to post a comment.