Decision to make: need in-ground oil tank advice

Old 04-25-13, 03:54 PM
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Decision to make: need in-ground oil tank advice

Hi all,

I'm looking for some advice regarding an in-ground oil tank. Hopefully this is the right forum.

We've been in our home 11 years and have no intention of going anywhere anytime soon. Not to say I won't get transferred at work, but that's our current plan.

When we bought the house, we were told we had a 550 gal abandoned oil tank in one of the front planting beds. We see the tubing coming in to the house at that location. We have a certificate from a tank remediation company to indicate that it was sand filled in 1999, and there is a permit on file with the muncipality. From what I know of the abandonment work, the tank was opened, cleaned, and filled with sand; the piping was disconnected. There was an inspection of the job, but I'm told that, at that time, there was no soil sampling completed, only an inspection for visible holes in the tank.

When we bought the house, it was a "seller's market" and our attorney told us "nothing to worry about with the tank, you have documentation".

We went on our merry way until about two years ago when our homeowner's insurance company offered up "last chance" on third-party liability insurance for in-ground tanks. Reluctantly, we added this coverage to our policy. This coverage only covers us for third-party issues, and does nothing to help us with removal or remediation efforts locally. The coverage costs us an additional $400/year.

My rational side is telling me that it's ridiculous to be carrying this insurance, but it's also telling me that it doesn't make any sense to consider removing the tank at this point either. It's not a live tank, meaning it's empty and filled so it can't do any damage at this point, so all we're concerned about is any damage it might have done between installation (1958?) and abandonment (1999).

We have a well that's adjacent to the tank (about 8 feet away) that is tested annually and has never shown traces of hydrocarbons. There's no unusual odors in our basement and no oil slicks in our sump pumps. Nothing oozes from the ground. Plants grow well above it, in fact, we have a substantial amount of expensive landscaping that I would hate to disturb.

There's no evidence that the tank is or has been a problem.

What would you do? I'm thinking of cancelling the insurance and letting the tank be until if and when we go to sell the house. I can't justify disturbing the landscaping, and spending >$2500 on a tank removal isn't making much sense to me.

Any thoughts on whether the abandonment process or permits absolve me from future liability? Do the abandonment contractor or muncipality share in any liability if there is a future issue, considering they both signed off on the process?

How about other ways to mitigate the concern without removing the tank?

Thanks in advance!
Old 04-25-13, 08:57 PM
PJmax's Avatar
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This isn't my field of expertise and I'm just making some observations.

the tank was opened, cleaned, and filled with sand; the piping was disconnected.
Interesting.... All this work..... why wasn't the tank just pulled ? Cost maybe ?

I don't know if there really is a "right" answer. Personally, I think I'd drop the insurance.
Old 04-26-13, 04:36 AM
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I think the times were different too... cost was probably a factor and there was no problem with just abandoning in place. Since that time, buyers have the upper hand with home sales and most won't accept a tank as part of the deal. And the environmental risks and liabilities have increased.
Old 04-26-13, 06:34 AM
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400 a year more! Thats more than all my coverage. id drop it and not worry about it. Sounds like the tank never leaked.

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