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

What if I removed my tank or filled it in place but did not check for contamination?

Please don't panic.  You have not done anything illegal, but you still have unfulfilled responsibilities for a tank and associated contamination.  Additionally, a wise buyer will not accept this type of property until a proper tank removal and assessment is conducted.  This is also the only way to definitively end your liability for the tank and the required cleanup.

1)  Tanks Previously Removed without Contamination Assessment:  In this situation, tank removal was done although it was not required.  Contamination assessment and cleanup is required but was not done. 

Buyer Beware! Tank removal without assessment is a very bad situation for a property buyer to purchase.  You may be buying contaminated property and may not qualify for Trust Fund assistance if you have to conduct contamination assessment and cleanup at a later date.  Remember: the average cost of a clean up is between $10,000 and $20,000.  Please see our Property Values, Tanks, and Contamination Page.

There are actions that can correct this potentially complicated situation. 

  • Solution to Resolve a Tank that was removed earlier without assessment:

PES will conduct an appropriate soil assessment at the former tank location to determine if contamination is present on the property. 

If contamination is not discovered, our professionally sealed report will document this fact. Depending on the method of assessment, this investigation may or may not be as conclusive as searching for contamination during tank removal.  We can, however, offer you several investigation options to allow you to achieve the level of certainty that you desire to end the tank concern and to satisfy any inquiring potential buyer, bank, or insurance company. 

If contamination is discovered, the release will have to be immediately reported.  PES will perform all the required contamination assessment to bring the property into compliance with State and Federal requirements.  For this scenario, the State may not pay for contaminated soil cleanup (excavation) and therefore it will not be conducted until specifically directed by the State.  Using the assessment data, the State will determine what additional assessment and/or cleanup is required at the property.  PES can complete all of the required work for you and assist you with your reimbursement from the Trust Fund.  Please see our Incident Closure Scenarios Page. 

2)  Tanks Previously Closed-in-Place without contamination assessment:  Tanks that were closed in place without State permission and/or without soil samples to document a "clean closure" are not considered "closed" tanks

Buyer Beware! Tank closure without assessment is a very bad situation for a property buyer to purchase.  Please see our Property Values, Tanks, and Contamination Page.

Unless State approved, this action really didn't accomplish anything.  It did not bring the property/tank closer to compliance with State and Federal laws and it did not end the liability for the current property owner (seller) or protect the future buyer from assuming the tank and cleanup responsibility. 

Most tanks closed in place by persons other than environmental professionals are not conducted according to any accepted protocol.  An in-ground tank can not be pumped empty without uncovering and cutting a sizeable hole in the top of the tank.  This is very rarely done.  This means that most if not all previously filled tanks were filled with 2 to 5 gallons of fuel still in them (possibly more).  Eventually, this "residual" fuel will leak out of improperly filled-in-place tanks.  It may seem hard to believe, but even a leak of a few gallons from an underground tank can make a significant contamination problem requiring cleanup and costing approximately $10,000. 

  • Solution to Resolve an Earlier Filled In-Place Tank:

a) Tanks Previously Filled with Sand:

This tank situation can be brought into compliance with State and Federal requirements fairly easily.  PES can simply remove this tank as though the earlier filling never occurred. 

If contamination is not discovered, our professionally sealed report will document this fact as well as the proper tank and contents disposal.  This should end the tank concern and satisfy any inquiring potential buyer, bank, or insurance company. 

If contamination is discovered, PES will perform all proper tank removal and contamination cleanup activities required by State and Federal regulations and guidelines.  This will bring your property into compliance with State and Federal requirements. 

There may be additional costs to remove and treat the contaminated material inside the tank.  In most cases contaminated soil outside the tank will have to be excavated and properly disposed of.  These potential cost will have to be determined on a site by site basis dependent on the facts of each site. 

b) Tanks Previously Filled with Concrete:

This tank situation can also be brought into compliance with State and Federal requirements but not as easily as a sand filled tank.  Proper closure and appropriate clean up can be conducted but these situations will have to be discussed with the State of North Carolina's UST Section to determine what actions will satisfy their requirements. 

Depending on the size of your tank, it may weigh over 3 tons.  This is not going to be easy or inexpensive to remove the tank from your property.  Removing contaminated soil from around the tank may be a better option. 

We would be happy to discuss your specific situation with you.  Please Contact PES.

Back to top