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Question DetailsAsked on 12/29/2013

Underground oil tank removal

Long story short. Seller was unaware that she had a tank in Newark NJ. Subsequent scanning revealed there was tank in the sidewalk (the fill cap was obvious but for a novice like me i did not know what to look for.. $200 later) After trying an angieslist contractor who was decently review until recently for a quote. He quoted me 3k and than the seller 4300. Which we felt was shady and after speaking to locals about the company in question we decided not to use them because "they always find a leak". Now we are using a person the seller found who i do not feel comfortable about. Unable to make contact with him yet but i do not believe he is licensed. He wants to pull the tank for 5k (its 500 gal approx 50 yr old with water in it and a little oil). He says he will pull it and than put black top over it until the spring when he will put concrete. He wants 2k up front and 2.5k after we close leaving 500 for the spring. He will probably leave the $ on the table. Does any1 know the NJ laws?

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2 Answers


Rules on removal and the environmental regulations are state by state. Some states do not have regulations for homeowner tanks.

Your contractor should close out the tank paperwork.

About 80-90% of the ones that I have pulled before that were left in without a homeowner knowing about them had already leaked. They fact that it was emptied (hopefully purposefully) and filled with water is a good thing.

If it just filled with water over time...not so good.

Get a price per ton for impacted soil removal and put back with clean fill.

Take plenty of pictures and have your contractor document everything. You may require information in the future when you go to sell the home.

Good luck!!!

Answered 6 years ago by WoWHomeSolutions


ALL underground storage tanks (UST's), when they are removed, have to be done so in accordance with EPA regulations relating to UST's, and there are mandatory certifications for the contractor (administered by the states) and required closeout testing and certifications.

Google this search phrase - New Jersey UST contractor licensing and you will find links to state web pages regarding certification of contractors, and required UST removal testing and affidavits that the site has been cleaned. Here is a link to FAQ's on the issue -

IT is a little confusing, because of two reasons - the New Jersey UST program is not yet fully approved by the EPA so some of the rules are NJ rules, some EPA. Also, home heating oil tanks of not more than 2000 gallons are exempt from registration as UST's and do not have to be removed or upgraded to double wall containment till proven to be leaking, BUT, removal of them and remediation of any detected spills at that time IS regulated and has to be done by a certified contractor.

Having been responsible for this type of removal (as a hazardous waste supervisor and as a remedial designer and/or project engineer) for dozens of tanks ranging from 80 to 3 million gallons, I would say you should not (if it is possible to specify in contract conditions still) close on the house until the tank has been removed, remedial soil removal completed, closeout certification filed AND accepted by the state, and the hole backfilled with compacted suitable fill. The fill should be allowed to settle through the spring anyway to minimize settlement of the walk, then the repaving could be done either by the remediation contractor or by a separate concrete walk and drive contractor in the summer. Having an UST removal hanging after closing is a no-win in my mind, and to me personally would be a deal killer - of course, not knowing where you are in the buying process here. Your biggest risks are that he will go out of business with the work undone but part of the money paid, and of course the substantial $ risk of having to remove a lot of soil that is found to be contaminated after the tank is removed - including a distinct possibility the plume will extend under that house or adjacent ones, which gets REAL expensive. I have NEVER, in probably 50 or so UST removal or remediation jobs, seen an UST without significant spillage from filling, and in a tank of that age probably only a handful without pinhole or fitting leakage, so I would expect it highly likely that you will be seeing $1000-3000 possible additional exposure for contaminated soil removal in the normal case due to leakage - and of course in rare cases far more. I worked one job in NY where we traced an oil plume from a household heating oil tank over 1/4 mile- turned out annual supply had been over 4 times normal usage for the appliance sizes, and about 3000 gallons a year had been going into the ground for dozens of years because an unused end of tank fitting had been left with the factory plastic protective shipping plug in it, which was not watertight so it seeped out the fitting at a third gallon or so per hour.

I would check into the contractor's certification - if it turns out he is not certified then that might be grounds for a contract amendment to get removal and certification done (by a different contractor) BEFORE closing, even if it leaves you with the fairly minimal walk replacement cost after closing out of your pocket - not a tough thing to do as a do it yourselfl job if only talking 15-20 feet of walk.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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