With approximately 3 million residential heating oil tanks in New York State, contamination amongst older buried tanks is likely. Leaks from buried tanks can be indicated by signs of a damaged tank pipe, soil that is stained or gives off strong oil odors, or even a sheen on the groundwater. Many residential underground home heating oil tanks are similar to the 275-gallon steel tanks that you would see in basements or garages. These tanks were not designed to be buried, and if left in place, will eventually corrode and leak. Even larger tanks that were specifically designed for underground use will leak if they are not protected from corrosion.
It's a question which every home seller must answer and every home buyer wants to know even if the tank has been abandoned and is no longer in use, it’s still information that needs to be addressed. If your purchasing a new home and the heating oil tank has been moved into the basement or garage but you still see capped pipes from a previous tank, that’s an indicator that the prior tank was buried and you should ask for all paper necessary paper work showing a certified removal. Many real estate deals go bad over buried oil tanks and the possible long term effects of them being buried for years. How much does it cost to remove an underground tank? Removal costs vary depending on the size of the tank, its condition, and how easily it can be reached. If your tank has leaked and is located near any wells, drinking water supplies, wetlands, ponds or streams, or if there are any indications that contamination is present, sampling and analysis will need to be performed. If remediating an actual leak, the cost will be much more. Oil tanks, usually made of steel, are prone to rusting which can lead to leakage and pollute soil and groundwater. The life of most oil tanks is somewhere between 10-15 years when they are buried. Due to the potential problems with the tanks, many home buyers are putting a contingency in their purchase and sales contract requiring the seller to have any underground oil tanks removed before closing.