Planning is definitely the first step if you’re considering removing an underground storage tank (UST). You want to get rid of it, but there are several factors you should consider before moving forward. Taking a little time to understand the process and get organized will help make sure you’re approaching the process in the most cost-effective and environmentally appropriate way.
Eventually you’ll need to hire a contractor – or several – to perform required soil sampling as well as actually remove your underground storage tank. Working with a professional team of environmental engineering experts right from the start can save you time and hassle, maybe even money. They know the rules and the regulators, so you won’t have to worry about mistakes that could cost you money and delay your project.
They also hold the required licenses and certifications to oversee your project. They can help you find, hire and supervise a qualified excavation contractor. And they’re fully equipped to handle the scientific part of your removal process, with thorough and accurate soil sampling and testing and knowledgeable evaluation of the results.
Contamination is nothing to take lightly, so it’s crucial to work with someone who understands all the ramifications of test results. If your tests indicate problems, you’ll want to know all your options to resolve those problems, including timing and costs.
You can’t remove an underground storage tank until it’s been officially cleared.
You’ll need to obtain official permits. USTs are regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency and also a relevant state agency. In New York State, that’s the Department of Environmental Conservation Bulk Storage Program. Many municipalities also require permits.
You’ll also want to check with Dig Safely NY – or your state’s similar organization – to locate any utilities within your proposed excavation area.
Whether you’ve actively using your tank or it’s been sitting idle for some time, it and the surrounding area have to be checked out if the tank has been used to store petroleum fuels or some other hazardous chemicals. So the first stage of your project will include:
- Uncovering the tank and allowing any accumulated vapors to escape.
- Removing any remaining product or residue.
- Visually inspecting the interior of the tank for damage or leaks.
- Inspecting the surrounding area, and taking soil samples to test for hazardous substances.
With luck, your property will be clear of contamination. If not, you’ll need to prepare a formal remediation plan. Your environmental engineering firm can work with you on that.
Actually removing your underground storage tank follows a specific process, too.
Once testing is completed and your property has a clean bill of health, your excavation contractor can dig it up and remove it, along with its associated piping. They will know how to properly dispose of these things. You can then refill the site and regrade it in preparation for additional restoration work.
If your local municipality allows, you may not have to remove the tank at all. It may be possible to “abandon” it in place, filling it with concrete slurry or sand and then covering it with soil. This alternative can be considerably less expensive, but obviously it’s not an option if your property shows signs of contamination.
Naturally, you have to prepare a report.
Along with obtaining permits to begin your underground storage tank removal process, you have to file a formal final closure report with authorities when your project has been completed. Your environmental engineering firm can do this for you, since they’ll have all the information needed, and they’ll give you a copy of the report for your permanent files, too.
By starting with a well-thought-out plan, your underground storage tank removal will go smoothly, and you’ll know everything was handled properly.
Photo Credit: konradfoerstner via Flickr