What to Know About Underground Oil Tanks



While underground oil tanks are no longer as common as they once were, there are still plenty of properties that have them. So if your home or business currently has an underground oil tank, or you plan on buying a property that does, there are a few key things you should know.


What to know about unused underground oil tanks


If your property has an underground oil tank that is not in use, the first thing you will want to check is whether it has been correctly decommissioned. If it hasn’t, then you will need to hire a contractor to correctly clean and then either remove it from your property or fill it in. 


If you do plan on filling in the oil tank, polyurethane is often the best option as it is relatively lightweight helpful should you decide to remove the tank at a later date.


If the underground oil tank has not been properly decommissioned or just abandoned, then be aware that any issues relating to your oil tank will likely not be covered by your insurance.


It’s also important to know that a property fueled by active natural gas, but with an abandoned underground oil tank, will not be covered by the Pollution Liability Insurance Agency (PLIA) insurance program. This scheme offers funding to assist with the costs and environmental responsibilities associated with owning an underground tank.


Removing a disused oil tank from your property can be expensive, but the long-term benefits can often outweigh the short-term costs.


What to know if your property is using an underground oil tank


If you do plan on using your underground oil tank, it is crucial you have the correct insurance. Spillages caused by leaks from connecting pipes or the tank itself are not uncommon and can lead to costly damages.


Hiring a licensed environmental professional to conduct tests on the oil and the water around the tank can establish whether there is a leak or not. If the licensed environmental professional does discover any leakage, they can often provide you with a quote to fix the issue. If no issues are found, they will give you the documentation to prove this.


It’s also important to check the age of any underground oil tank as the average lifespan is typically 15 years. Though, it is not uncommon for tanks to last longer if correctly maintained.


The dangers of underground oil tanks


While underground oil tanks can be a great option for heating the home, it’s crucial to recognize that there are several risks involved if they are not properly looked after.


Poor care can lead to spillages, which are often both difficult and expensive to clean it is also highly likely that your insurance will not cover these costs either. Leaking oil can also spread from soil to groundwater, which can be disastrous for local wildlife and farmers.


Oil leaks can also be a danger to you, your family and your neighbors' health if left unresolved. Nausea, headaches and dizziness can all be caused by oil vapor coming from a damaged oil tank, while long-term exposure may lead to much more serious illnesses.


It’s not just your health that’s at risk from a poorly cared for underground oil tank. If an oil leak ends up affecting neighboring premises, then you may find yourself liable for any damages. An improperly maintained oil tank may also impact the value of your home or business premises. 


If you plan on selling your property but can’t show potential buyers the correct documentation for your underground oil tank, then they may suspect that there is an issue.


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