Underground Oil Tanks

(Please note: Fleetwood does not scan or inspect for underground tanks)

FBI Inspectors frequently come across older homes that show signs of an abandoned buried oil tank. In many cases however, there are few if any signs.  According to Rick Hughes, Victoria Tank Service Ltd., homes built after 1960 no longer have furnace fuel oil tanks underground, but be aware that some sites have removed an old house from the property in years past and built a newer home leaving the original tank still buried. Many home owners have told us they have lived in their house for 20 years and have always had an above ground tank. They were unaware however that there was a buried tank installed when the house was new, which was then abandoned after 20-25 years or so when it began to rust and pollute the fuel.
Even above ground tanks deteriorate of course and will have to be eventually replaced.
Some insurance companies will not allow inside oil tanks or any tank that does not have a date label or at least a current maintenance program with a fuel supplier.

So what’s the big deal with an underground oil tank anyway?
A leaking oil tank above or below ground is deemed to be leaking a toxic substance into the environment and hence needs to be dealt with as such. Ground and drinking water could be at risk. Soil samples have to be taken and then a  contractor (licensed for both removal and transport), must remove the contaminated soil to a hazardous materials dump site. This can be a very expensive proposition especially if it’s found that your tank has leaked underneath your neighbor’s garage. There have been some settlements on the mainland costing upwards of $100,000 or more. The big deal then is to ask your realtor to have your pre-1961 home checked for a buried tank before purchase and let the current owner bear responsibility for any cleanup and removal. Also have your realtor and solicitor check city records for the possibility of any previous old home that may have been removed from the site, if you or your realtor suspect that that may have been the case. In addition your insurance provider may require proof that the site has been swept for a tank.


A leaking tank can contaminate surrounding soil

How can you find out if there is a buried tank on the property?
A company specializing in oil tank removal should be contacted to check the property for a buried tank, with a special metal detector or ground source radar. Be aware that not all areas on site are accessible or open for metal detection devices. (Concrete patio slabs, some driveways  and under decks etc. typically are difficult to check)

What are the approximate costs?
If you have to have an indoor tank cut and removed, expect to pay around $250- $350 plus removal of any unused fuel at approximately $2.00 per gallon plus permit. Removal of underground tanks costs about $1000 (plus fuel removal) or rendering tanks inert (not approved in most areas or with most insurance providers) $450-$ 550 (again plus fuel removal). A new tank costs in the neighborhood of $1700. (Note: costs can vary)

Other links
Understanding Oil Tanks
Western Utilities
Scan Plus


Provided courtesy of Fleetwood Building Inspections