There are two reasons an underground storage tank (UST) might need to be removed. The first: it’s aging or leaking and needs to be replaced. The second: you’ve discovered an old tank buried on the property and local law requires it to be removed.
The tricky thing about removing underground fuel tanks is that local and state laws vary. In some areas, there are no regulations. In others, there are strict rules about how tanks must be handled when they are decommissioned, or taken out of service. The law might require all tanks decommissioned after a certain year to be removed, or it might say only leaking tanks need to be removed. In some places, old tanks can remain in place as long as they are pumped out, cleaned and filled with slurry.
No matter what, dealing with an old or obsolete storage tank is an urgent matter. If regulations do exist, failure to comply could result in thousands of dollars in fines. Even if they don’t, there’s always the risk that an old tank can leak if it hasn’t been properly decommissioned, contaminating your property and requiring a costly cleanup. There are horror stories of cleanup costs topping $50,000, and if your insurance policy has a “pollution exclusion” clause, as most do, you’re footing that bill.
How Does UST Removal Work?
Once you’ve determined that a tank needs to be removed, it’s time to call a professional. Many states and municipalities require contractors to be licensed or approved to do this kind of work. If that’s the case, ask local officials or your fuel supplier for a list of approved contractors. Always seek quotes from more than one.
Because removing an underground fuel tank involves excavating, it usually requires a permit. Your contractor will likely take care of that for you, but it’s always a good idea to make sure. In most cases, tanks must be cleaned before they are removed. All piping is disconnected and removed, unless that’s impossible, in which case it’s capped. Finally, the tank must be properly disposed in accordance with local laws.
Keep in mind that many states and municipalities require the contractor to report any soil or groundwater contamination they discover during the removal. You, as the homeowner, will be responsible for mitigating that damage.
How Much Does It Cost to Have a UST Removed?
On average, the cost to remove an underground storage tank is $1,000-$3,000. Pricing varies based on your geographic area and how difficult it is to access the tank. This estimated range does not include any cleanup that is required.
If you’re replacing an old underground storage tank and never want to deal with the hassle again, consider having your new tank installed above ground in a garage, utility room or basement. You’ll prevent a lot of future headaches.
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