Understanding the Basics of Oil Tank Abandonment

Oil tank abandonment, also known as closure in place, is a process whereby a buried oil tank is closed and filled with an inert material. This can be done when excavation would cause structural compromise.

An oil tank needs to be adequately abandoned to avoid soil contamination. This can have serious financial ramifications when trying to sell your property.

What is an Abandoned Tank?

An abandoned tank is a storage tank decommissioned and filled with an inert material like sand. This is sometimes referred to as a closure in place. Homeowners often choose to have this done by their local heating oil company because it is less expensive than removal.

When a home is sold, real estate agents and insurance companies want proof that the tank was handled correctly.

Types of Abandoned Tanks

Many homeowners have abandoned their buried oil tanks by disconnecting the tank piping from the furnace or heating system, cutting the fill pipe below grade, and capping it with concrete. This is known as a filled-in-place tank. Filling in place is not a form of proper abandonment. 

Local building departments approve these tanks by granting an approval sticker to the homeowner. However, this doesn’t prove that the tank was cleaned or did not leak. Mortgage companies and insurance carriers are becoming increasingly wary of properties with older buried tanks that need the required certification of abandonment.

An improperly capped, filled-in-place tank can lead to environmental contamination, which could be expensive to clean up. This type of tank should be removed, and a soil test should be performed to document that the tank did not leak.

Cost of Abandoning a Tank

When heating oil tanks were first abandoned, there needed to be more guidelines in place. Many homeowners or contractors would only leave a buried tank in place by decommissioning it first. This practice is hazardous, can create serious environmental issues, and is potentially illegal. An old abandoned tank must be decommissioned correctly to prevent it from leaking and contaminating soils on the property. Buyers, buyers’ attorneys, and mortgage companies will want proof that the tank was decommissioned and abandoned correctly.

Oil tank abandonment Westchester County NY, involves pumping the oil out, cleaning it, and filling it with backfill material. Generally, this is done with soil samples to ensure the area has not been contaminated. Removing a tank is more expensive but prevents future environmental problems and helps increase the value of your property. It also eliminates the worry of a potentially leaking oil tank that can cost money.

How to Abandon a Tank

When a homeowner decides to abandon a tank in place, it has to be done correctly. This means it has to be disconnected from the heater or furnace, the fill pipe cut below grade and capped with concrete, the tank cleaned, and then filled in place with an inert material such as sand. It also has to be documented that the soil around the tank is not contaminated

This work is costly, but ensuring a safe and complete tank abandonment is necessary. Mortgage companies are increasingly wary of properties with buried oil tanks that lack the proper documentation of a defection. This makes it difficult for homeowners to obtain a loan when it comes time to buy a home. This is not good for the economy and can also impact a homeowner’s ability to pay their mortgage installments.

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