Practical Environmental Solutions, P.C.Practical Environmental Solutions, P.C.
Serving Wilmington and Southeastern North Carolina 910.790.8265 FAQ | About PES | Home

What do I do if I have a tank?

Proper tank removal and conduction the required cleanup is the only way to end your responsibility for the tank and contamination. Simply selling the house will not end your responsibility.

Although there is no requirement to remove an underground oil tank, most have been corroding in the ground well beyond their 15 to 20 year life expectancy.  We have currently documented an 88% leak rate for underground oil tanks. 

Be proactive.  We highly recommend that you have Practical Environmental Solutions (a licensed environmental company) remove your underground oil tank and document the contamination status of your property ("clean" or contaminated above the State's established standard). 

A) If your underground oil tank is out of use, let PES give you a free, no obligation estimate to properly remove the tank.  Before beginning any part of the tank removal process, we want to ensure that you should qualify for the Trust Fund's $0 deductible and that you understand all of your potential out-of-pocket costs.  Please see our Tank Closure Page.

B) If your underground oil tank is still in use, chances are it has been buried for 45 to 60 years and is long over due to be replaced or taken out of service.  The life expectancy for underground bare steel tanks is 15 to 20 years.  Removal of your in-use tank is highly recommended.  PES has documented a leak rate of over 80% for in-use-tanks.  (An above ground tank (under $1000) can replace your underground tank if you wish to continue using your oil furnace.)  Please see our In-use Tank Page.

If a leak is discovered from your tank, there is a 24 hour reporting requirement and "immediate" actions must be taken.  The tank will need to be pumped empty as soon as possible to prevent a continuing leak and a tank removal/contaminated soil excavation will also need to be scheduled. 

The State of North Carolina requires a contamination cleanup to be conducted according to specific guidelines and policies. 

Clean up of soil contaminated by over-spills through the vent pipe.

PES can completely manage your tank project for you.  We conduct and supervise the tank removal, complete all required sampling, submit required State's reports (professionally sealed), and will complete all Trust Fund paperwork for your signature. 

We highly encourage you to educate yourself on the facts and realities of oil tanks, associated contamination, and your tank responsibility/liability. 

We suggest that you review the following pages on our web site:  Facts about Tanks, Why is a tank a concern?, Responsibility & Liability, and Property Values Tanks and Contamination

Warning: Actions not recommended 

1) Do not leave the tank in the ground (take no action):  While taking no action is legal, it is not very wise.  Ignoring a leaking tank problem (88% chance of a leak - statistically) only delays addressing the tank and contamination until a later date.  Meanwhile, the contamination problem may grow larger, making cleanup more difficult and more costly.  Historically, Trust Fund reimbursement coverage and rates have dropped over time.  It may be less expensive to conduct a contamination cleanup now than to do it later. 

Please remember selling the property with the tank still on the property does not end your legal responsibility for the tank and for associated contamination.  Please see our Responsibility & Liability Page.  

2) Do not have the tank removed by a company that is not professionally licensed specifically for tank removal and contamination assessment.  You only have one chance to qualify for Trust Fund assistance.  If the tank removal and cleanup activities are not conducted according to State requirements, the Trust Fund may not reimburse you for your efforts.  Additionally, the State may require you to completely re-do your contamination cleanup and sampling.  This could cost you several thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. 

Tank closure activities should be documented for future reference.  A thorough contamination assessment is critical to end your environmental liability.  Furthermore, the Trust Fund will only reimburse for cleanups (soil excavation) conducted within 90 days of the tank removal.  Overlooking contamination during the tank removal may forfeit your opportunity to have the contamination cleaned up and reimbursed by the Trust Fund.  Please see our Tank Closure: Removal without assessment Page. 

3) Do not fill your tank with sand:  We strongly discourage this practice.  It does not address the contamination concern and it leaves the tank and contamination on the property to potentially harm future property buyers and adjacent neighbors.  Quite honestly, it is simply a waste of time and money because it does not accomplish anything.  Please see our Tank Closure: Filling with Sand Page. 

4) Do not take a soil sample but leave the tank in place.  A soil sample taken in this manner is not conclusive documentation that the tank did not leak.  For planning purposes, PES screens each site before removing a tank.  Approximately 30% of sites screen "clean."  However, after tank removal, half of this 30% are in fact contaminated above the State's established standard.  In other words, if the soil sample taken beside your in-place tank is uncontaminated, these results have a 50/50 chance of being correct.  This is not a very conclusive result for your money spent.  PES recommends that you invest your money in conducting a proper tank removal rather than wasting it on inconclusive soil tests. 

A careful buyer should not accept this type of soil sampling as valid tank assessment.  Please see our Tank Closure: Sample without tank closure Page.

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