An underground storage tank is a container that holds liquids such as oil or gas. It uses mediums including non-petroleum substances for short-or long-term heat storage.
You may want an underground tank to store heating oil, economize your space, or as a sewage-disposal tank. Other commercial uses entail using it as underground fuel storage tanks. If your property has a new storage tank, you should be worried about its potential risks. People rarely find untapped or emptied underground storage tanks, which is why leaks can pose a problem. Approximately 4,000 tanks covered by UST regulations hold hazardous substances.
Here is everything you need to know about underground storage tank removal, starting from your responsibilities and the potential risks associated with it.
Responsibilities of Owning and Operating Underground Storage Tank Facilities
Your responsibilities include the following:
- You must register your tank with the state.
- You must follow state UST regulations.
- You must protect against corrosion.
- You must monitor your tanks regularly.
- You must keep records of leaks, maintenance, and repairs.
Considerations Associated With Underground Storage Tanks
An underground storage tank's risk level depends on the tank's age, material, construction, and maintenance. Leakage of petroleum and other hazardous substances contaminates the soil and groundwater and causes health issues and environmental liabilities.
As an owner, you must comply with regulations and bear the cost of tank removals, maintenance, and environmental cleanups.
1. Your Financial Responsibility
Regulations require you to be financially responsible. Common financial assurance mechanisms are state funds and private insurance.
You can use a storage tank policy to cover losses associated with leaks from tanks or spills during the process of loading and unloading. However, the costs associated with tank removals, waste disposal, or leaks from other sources are not covered. To cover these risks, you need a premise pollution liability insurance policy where you individually itemize every underground storage tank.
2. Insurance Policies
Your insurance policy requires these elements to satisfy financial responsibility requirements:
- Cover costs from sudden and non-sudden releases
- Cover costs of loading and unloading
- Covers the cost of on-site and off-site cleanup
- Requires wording on the certificate of insurance used in the Code of Federal Regulations, 40 CFR 280.97(b)(1) and (2)
- The claims-made coverage reporting period should be six-months
The insurance policies depend on a claims-made basis. You have to make your claim before the policy period ends.
3. Problems With Aging Tanks
The life expectancy of underground tanks is 30 years, after which you should have an engineer check it. Waiting will increase the chances of leaks and the insurance cost. Many markets create financial barriers to prevent you from insuring older storage tanks by offering you tank pollution liability coverage.
Instead of insurance, look for other options such as removal, replacement, or switch to above-ground tanks as your risk management strategy.
The Procedure for Removing Underground Storage Tanks
An underground storage tank can bring down your property value. Old, unused, or failed inspection tanks are also a pollution risk. Here’s how you can remove unwanted or old tanks:
1. Looking at the Prerequisites and Permits
You must inform your local and state government 30 days before you decide to remove your storage tank. Before getting permits, you need approval to conduct soil sampling and drilling. The information you offer must include the location, size, and status. You will also need a certified contractor to obtain all permits and meet safety guidelines.
2. Prepare Your Site
You must empty your tank of all its content, as most waste can be flammable. Your local OSHA office will guide you on how and where to dispose of the content. You then make the tanks inert by using non-flammable gas such as nitrogen to replace oxygen. You also need to get certified professionals to declare your storage tank clean. Then, the excavation can begin by separating the soil to reach the tank.
3. The Excavation Process and Soil Sampling Protocol
The process begins with digging, which uses standard construction equipment that includes backhoes and excavators. They hoist the storage tank out of the hole by using chains to lift it. In the case of a large storage tank, you will use a crane instead.
After this, you need to test the soil for contamination. You can backfill the pit if it is free of all hazardous materials. Otherwise, using the hazardous material guidelines, you will need clean soil to fill the excavation pit.
4. Disposal of Materials and Closure Report
After removing the storage tank, cleaning up the waste is necessary before sending it for recycling. The process entrails pressure washing and rinsing on-site. The waste requires proper transportation and disposal protocol.
The engineer behind the project will submit a report which will summarize the on-site activities, soil and groundwater samples, and recommendations for the next steps. They will also need to sign and stamp the closure report. Copies of the report will remain with regulatory agencies and the property owner.
You must prepare for the cost of installing new tanks and start planning for their replacement from the day of installation. You must retain all your documents and records of the removal as it reduces the chance of investigation that could impact the value of your property. As the process can be dangerous, make sure to work with experienced and licensed individuals.