Underground Tanks – 10 Facts You Should Know
R&R Landscaping & Tank Removal offers safe removal services of underground storage tanks and hazardous material tanks in the Central Connecticut area. We serve towns including Manchester CT, Newington CT, Willimantic CT, New Britain CT, Wethersfield CT, Enfield CT, Branford CT, Cheshire CT, Lebanon CT, and more.
Who Oversees the Regulation of Storage Tanks?
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the federal organization that oversees the regulation of underground storage tanks on a national level. Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) is the regulating body at the state level that sets the standards and procedures for underground storage tank installation, maintenance and removal.
What is an Underground Storage Tank System?
- The EPA defines an underground storage tank system or UST as a tank and any underground piping connected to it that stores either petroleum products like oil and gasoline or certain hazardous substances like natural gas.
Are There Standards that must be Met for Storage Tanks?
- In 1984, the EPA setup technical standards for tank design and installation that include leak detection, spill and overfill control, and corrosion protection. The deadline for manufacturers and installation technicians to meet their standards was December 22, 1988. If your underground tank was installed before that date, you should assume that it does not meet these standards
- Before the EPA stepped in, underground storage tanks were made of bare-steel which is more susceptible to corrosion. Faulty installations, poor maintenance procedures and inadequate operation were also commonplace before their regulations set higher standards for technicians and home contractors. These are the reasons why a high percentage of tanks installed before 1988 have leaked and caused significant environmental damage.
What Should I do if My Underground Storage Tank was Installed before 1988?
- If there is an underground storage tank on your property that was installed before December 22, 1988, you are required by the EPA to either 1) upgrade it by adding overfill, spill, and corrosion protection; 2) replace it with a new storage tank that has overfill, spill, and corrosion protection; 3) Properly close it or remove it.
Is There a Procedure for “Closing Down” and unused Underground Storage Tank?
- When an underground storage tank is no longer in use it can be closed or “abandoned” by having it emptied and filled with a harmless, chemically inactive solid like sand or concrete as long as it has not leaked. This procedure is not as simple as it sounds and should be done by a licensed professional who will meet local, state, and federal regulations including taking a soil sample from underneath the tank beforehand to verify that it has not leaked since leaking underground storage tanks must be removed.
The Fire Marshal also has to approve the abandonment which is not frequently granted since DEEP discourages tank abandonment. The only time it is recommended is if removing your underground storage tank would endanger a foundation or if it is inaccessible because it is beneath a patio, deck or home addition. The best option for an underground storage tank that is no longer in use is removal.
- Every year people are killed and injured trying to remove or close their underground storage tanks because they do not know all of the standard safety practices that need to be followed when emptying a tank filled with flammable hazardous materials like oil, gasoline, natural gas and propane. Hiring a licensed professional who specializes in storage tank removal is the best way to ensure your safety. They have the training, knowledge and specialized equipment necessary to properly empty these tanks without causing harm to themselves, others, or the environment.
Do I Really Need to Remove My Old Underground Storage Tank?
- Many banks and lenders require the removal of underground tanks because of the liability that they pose. The state and federal government hold property owners with underground storage tanks responsible for any pollution caused by a leak or spill. Many homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover the cost of cleanup or any damage caused by the leak or spill. It is usually excluded under a pollution exclusion clause. In most cases, it is necessary to have a separate Oil Tank Insurance policy to obtain coverage. Several requirements and stipulations must be met to even obtain this coverage.
- Removing an old underground storage tank before it begins to leak is the best way to avoid large cleanup costs. If an underground storage tank has a large leak or has been leaking for many years, cleaning up the contamination can lead to millions of dollars in remediation costs. As the property owner, you will be responsible for all of it. Connecticut used to give grants and low interest rate loans to homeowners who had leaking oil tanks. This program, which was known as the Residential Amnesty Program (RAP), ended in 2001. There are no longer any assistance programs for homeowners with leaking underground oil tanks in Connecticut.
Who Should I Hire to Remove an Underground Storage Tank?
- Hiring a contractor without the correct license, proper insurance coverage and expertise in underground tank removal and abandonment can cost you more money in the long run. A licensed professional will take care of obtaining all of the necessary permits, inspections and tests that are needed to get the job done right and produce a certified closure letter at the end of the process.
Selling a home that had an underground storage tank without a certified closure letter documenting the process is much more difficult. Securing proper homeowner’s insurance and refinancing can also be challenging without a certified closure letter.
If you have an underground storage tank on your property, contact R&R about removing or replacing it! We are the leading storage tank removal company in central Connecticut with 20 years of experience in underground tank removal and all of the requisite licensing and insurance. Our goal is to give you peace of mind and protect our community from the risks of leaking underground oil tanks.