What may indicate a leaking tank system?
The primary symptoms of a leaking tank system include:
– Unexplained increases in fuel consumption
– The boiler falters or fails
– Oil stains on the interior walls of your foundation
– Visible discoloration of your home’s well water supply or
– Presence of an odor, dying plants and shrubbery above and around the tank area.
These may indicate a leak, but a leak can go undetected for years!
Who is at risk for a leaking tank system?
Any poorly maintained or serviced heating system is at risk of a leaking tank system. At higher risk are older homes with older tanks, especially those residences in long-settled areas with older homes, are at the highest risk for a leaking tank system. Statewide insurance authorities consider a 20-year-old tank “at risk” for failure. As an oil tank ages, it becomes at risk for leaks, overfilling, and corrosion. Homeowners, businesses, and home buyers/sellers should be fully aware of the state and federal regulations that apply to their underground or above-ground oil storage tank. For tanks over 1100 gallon capacities, fines can accrue as a result of non-compliance with the WCDOH.
What causes an oil tank system to leak?
The most frequent causes of oil tank leakage include:
· Oxidation (rust) and corrosion of the tank due to old age
· Corrosion of the piping that leads from the tank into the furnace or pump
· Corrosion from water or condensation inside the tank
· Excess moisture or rocks in the soil surrounding the tank
· Broken oil lines from a shovel or fence
Why should buried oil tanks be removed?
The vast majority of buried oil tanks that are either functioning or have been abandoned are well past their life expectancy as most older tanks were originally designed to last 20-25 years. It is important to replace any tank at risk of leakage as even the smallest leak can cause extensive damage and require expensive clean-up.
How is contamination dangerous?
Oil leaks can cause potentially disastrous results. A fuel leak runs the risk of contaminating a well water supply or invading a sewer or stream; drinking water may be contaminated and pose a risk and liability to your family as well as any persons that drinks from these sources. At your expense, state laws may require either relocation of the well, connection to municipal water supply (if available), or installation of a specialized filtering system between the well and the affected property.
What can contamination do to the value and desirability of property?
Today’s real estate buyers are not willing to “own someone else’s problem”. The need to remove and replace your underground tank system is inevitable regardless of whether you decide to sell your property or not. Many lenders, homeowners, insurance companies, realtors, real estate attorneys, engineers and home inspection experts recommend that potentially hazardous oil tanks be removed before the transfer of title. It is widely believed by industry leaders that safe is always better than sorry, and that property owners should seriously consider addressing a possible leakage situation before they are faced with the substantial costs that can come with a leaking tank.
What does the removal of an underground oil tank involve?
The process of removing an underground oil tank requires that licensed professionals expose your underground storage tank so that it can be cut open and cleaned of all remaining fuel and residue. After proper cleaning is complete, the tank is then excavated and removed along with all associated piping. The tank is then inspected for holes and the tank “grave” is inspected for product release. By extracting soil from the base and sidewalls of the tank grave, a trained tank specialist can detect soil contamination. If no problems are evidenced, the tank is safely removed. Please see Oil Tank Removal for further information.
What does the abandonment of an underground oil tank involve?
In order to abandon an underground storage tank, the tank is first uncovered, rendered free of ignitable vapors and cut open. The tank is then entered by a technician and cleaned of all remaining fuel and residue. The technician visually inspects the tank for breaches. Soil may also be extracted from the perimeter of the underground storage tank by means of cutting a hole in the bottom of the underground storage tank and extracting soil samples or by “geoprobing” around the tank from the surface. If there is no sign of soil contamination, the tank is then filled with an inert material i.e. sand or kcrete/slurry and rough graded over. Please see Oil Tank Abandonment for more information.
What if there are contaminants found from either removal or abandonment?
If any contaminated soil is detected or breaches in the tank are observed during a removal or abandonment procedure, the tank must be removed from the ground and the site remediated. If no problems are observed with regards to the structural integrity of the tank, it may be filled with sand OR concrete slurry (based on local municipality regulations) on an abandonment. Please see Contaminated Soil/Water Removal for more information
What is the EPA Petroleum Bulk Storage (PBS)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Westchester County Department of Health (WCDOH) requires that all underground oil tanks with capacities of 1,100 gallons or greater, and which are used for storing petroleum or certain hazardous substances, conform to regulations as of December 22, 1998. The EPA regulations require that owners of underground storage tanks upgrade their sites in order to prevent, detect and correct hazardous release problems.
What if I do not upgrade my property to conform to EPA Petroleum Bulk Storage (PBS) requirements?
If owners and operators of PBS sites do not comply with EPA regulations, significant penalties may apply- including fines and/or imprisonment. In addition, applicable state and local municipality fines may also occur. The longer you wait, the bigger the fine may be.
What are AE’s service coverage areas?
Advanced Environmental is proud to provide service to customers in Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland counties in New York State.
Does AE accept credit cards?
Advanced Environmental accepts MasterCard and Visa credit cards in order to provide you with convenient payment methods. You can also pay through this website here.
What happens to the contamination once it has left my property?
Advanced Environmental transports all waste to fully licensed disposal facilities. Liquids are treated by means of separating petroleum products from water. The petroleum is then recycled for industrial use. Soils are treated by burning all volatile compounds leaving only clean fill as the end result.
Can AE provide a guarantee on the work that is performed?
Advanced Environmental will send a Certificate of Completion adorned with our Corporate Seal upon completion of any job. If there is work performed that does not satisfy the stated problem and is our fault, we will come back to provide corrective measures at no additional cost to you. In addition, most new tank installations will come with a manufacturer’s warranty that will be serviced directly by the manufacturer (terms and policies vary depending on the specific product and its manufacturer).
As a homebuyer or seller, what should I be aware of with respect to my underground-heating tank?
Caveat emptor: Buyers beware… a tank’s age is one of the first questions prospective home buyers will ask. Home heating oil tanks are just one of the many things that should be looked at when inspecting a house. It is advised that prospective buyers have oil tank systems thoroughly inspected. Homeowner’s insurance companies and mortgage companies are avoiding insuring houses with buried oil tanks. It is our strong recommendation to have the seller remove the buried tank prior to closing a real estate transaction. At the time of a real-estate transaction, have available a report stating the condition of your fuel oil tanks; this will protect both the purchaser and seller in case of any future oil leaks.
Where can I find more information about oil tank service, maintenance, and regulations?
Please see our Industry Partners as well as:
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – www.epa.gov
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) – www.dec.ny.gov
Westchester County Department of Health Petroleum Bulk Storage (PBS) – www.health.westchestergov.com
Double Wall Containments (Tank tubs) – www.oilstoragesolutions.com
The Home Inspection & Construction information website – www.inspectapedia.com/oiltanks/tanks.htm
The NYSDEC homeowner’s guide: – www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/32263.html