Burried Fuel Oil Tanks....watch out - Posted by bobMD

Posted by Tarheel T on September 14, 2001 at 11:23:36:

I agree.

Tracy Thompson

Burried Fuel Oil Tanks…watch out - Posted by bobMD

Posted by bobMD on September 13, 2001 at 17:21:36:

When I bought a house a while back, I didn’t realize that there was a burried fuel oil tank in the ground next to the house. When I sold the house, the FHA appraiser spotted the vent pipe and then the fill opening in the ground and made a note on the appraisal form to the bank. Needless to say, that was like a red flag to the bank!! I just had it dug up and removed today by a certified tank removal company. It had to be removed and then inspected by the county environmental department. Fortunately, the tank was not leaking and the ground was not contaminated but it cost $1400 to have it removed and a lot of worrying until the job was done. A word to the wise…look for evidence of burried tanks before you write that contract to buy. I never thought about it until it was too late.


Resurrecting a ghost - Posted by Paul_MA

Posted by Paul_MA on September 14, 2001 at 13:47:02:

About a year ago, I posted a story about an abandoned house which the owner offered to me for free.

The problem is the oil tanks. An underground oil tank, with a vertical filler pipe, was run over and broke off while the tenants were moving furniture.

Since then, (8-10 years ago) the ‘hole in the ground’ remained open and the rain water and snow melt obviously filled the underground tank with water, in turn, floating the oil up and out of the tank to the surface soil.

Turns out, the city has eyed this building for knock down.

My question is: responsibility?

If the city takes the property via tax title, will it be their responsibility to clean the soil? Can towns get immunity from environmental hazards? Can or will they go after prior owners?

The property is in Massachusetts.

Re: Burried Fuel Oil Tanks…watch out - Posted by Tarheel T

Posted by Tarheel T on September 14, 2001 at 07:38:53:

Ok, what is the worst that can happen if you have an empty buried residential oil tank, and just remove the pipes and cover it over?

Tracy Thompson

You are very lucky… - Posted by David Krulac

Posted by David Krulac on September 13, 2001 at 19:26:59:

one attorney/real estate investor that I know went to an attorney’s seminar about under ground storage tanks
(USTs). He was so scarred that he removed ALL oil tanks, buried or other wise from his properties. In a worse case scenario you could have costs in the 6 figures.

Re: Burried Fuel Oil Tanks…watch out - Posted by AnnNC

Posted by AnnNC on September 13, 2001 at 18:55:03:

Glad you brought this up…what would it look like?
I have an open cut pipe next to my house. It has electric heat, but it’s old, so perhaps originally had oil. The cut pipe is right back at the side of the pantry, right next to where the new(er) hot water tank is. Dang!
Most places here have above-ground oil tanks. Any thoughts on how to spot these? Plus, elsewhere in the lawn, about 10’ away, is another smaller cut pipe. By “cut pipe” I mean a pipe that is facing upwards, more or less flush with the ground, and open.
Thanks for info.

Re: Resurrecting a ghost - Posted by David Krulac

Posted by David Krulac on September 14, 2001 at 20:38:33:

I don’t know Mass. law, and I don’t know if the mincipality would have immunity. I think that they would. But I do know that any and all owners have a responsibility, whether they caused the problem, or knew of the problem, and usually the deep pocket owner becomes the stuckee.

The problem could be minor or could be major. How much oil is involved? How much area of soil is contaminated? EPA requires that the contaminated soil be removed and transferred to a hazardous landfill.

The worst that can happen… - Posted by JT - IN

Posted by JT - IN on September 14, 2001 at 08:06:27:

The worst that can happen is this:

  1. Drinking water contamination, if a well is present. If a well is not present, then nearby municipal water supply could be tainited.

  2. Considerable personal liability, if you attempt to cover-up or disguise these tanks, in lieu of removal.

Your idea is NOT a good one.

There are some approved methods, or have been utilized in the past, whereby, the underground tank could be purged of any/all fuel, certified to be so, then filled with sand, and left in place in the ground. If this is an option, within your state, this is a much beter approach.


Re: Burried Fuel Oil Tanks…watch out - Posted by Jim FL

Posted by Jim FL on September 13, 2001 at 21:12:27:

Before you panic too much, take a closer look at the pipes.
The one by the house, how big around is it?
If it is big enough, it could merely be a clean out for the plumbing.
If smaller, this could be the vent for the sewer system, although they usually go up to the roof somewhere.

The one in the yard, dig around the edges of it a bit in the dirt.
Is there cement around it at all?
Could be an old post cemented in that was hacked off instead of removing it all.
We had an FHA inspector tell us we needed to remove something from the ground once before close.
Turns out, it was just a post from an old laudry drying rack that was hacked off just below ground, in cement.
The type of pipe used on cyclone fences.

And if you cannot determine what it is, then hire an inspector, or contractor to look at it for you?
Talk to the previous owners?
older neighbors of the house, they might know.

Good luck, and don’t panic,
Jim FL