Environmental Tests : Underground Storage Tank

Underground Storage Tank (UST) Testing and Removal

The home inspection does not include the search for underground storage tanks because it is beyond the scope of our licensing; presence of a tank is not visible to the inspector. Evidence such as abandoned oil lines, exterior fill pipes, tank excavations, or tank equipment may be identified by the inspector. If evidence of prior use of an underground tank or current use is noted, the inspector will suggest obtaining documentation from the owner or further evaluation by a specialist. Depending on the circumstances, begin the process by asking the homeowner for documents, checking town records and continue with the options for testing and analysis.

Tank searches can be performed when it is suspected that a tank was at one time outside, but there is no documentation available to prove it was removed or abandoned properly. Despite manufacturers’ stated life expectancies, tanks have been known to last as little as six years to an extended life of forty or fifty years. Predictability of leakage cannot be accurately based on tank age.

There are three commonly accepted methods to address an underground storage tank (UST) at the time of a real-estate transaction. They are: tank removal, tank abandonment, and tank testing. It is important that only a licensed and insured contractor perform these functions.

At this time, the State’s regulation/law does not apply to residential tanks under 2100 gallons. There is no requirement for registration or removal at a state level. However, a leaking tank must be reported to the DEP. Although the State does not regulate residential underground tanks, some local municipalities do have their own regulations. These regulations have requirements ranging from simple installation permits to mandatory removal after a specific life expectancy. Check with your local municipality for your town regulations.

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