The Dilemma with Soil Testing
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The Dilemma with Soil Testing

The Dilemma with Soil Testing…

First off, lets begin with a few scenarios that may present the potential need to perform soil testing around an existing Underground Oil Tank.

You are a potential buyer of a property and you have discovered that there is an Buried Oil Tank on the property.
You are the owner of a property with a buried oil tank and are in the process of selling your home.
You are in the process of purchasing a Bank Owned property and discover a buried Oil Tank exists.

Dilemma with Soil Testing

Realtors, owners and buyers alike often ask ADS, do you offer soil testing/soil borings to sample and test the soil around the Underground Oil Tank for contamination?

Our answer to this question is No.  We do not offer or recommend this service for the following reasons.

The Soil Testing  method is Not always truly accurate.  When doing soil borings and taking samples around the perimeter of a buried oil tank, the samples are not providing an accurate analysis of the area beneath the oil tank itself.  Unless you are drilling directly through the tank itself, it is difficult to sample the area directly below the UST (Underground Storage Tank). This may mean that although the results may come back showing non detectable traces of oil around the tank, the area underneath the tank may contain contaminated soil not detected in the analysis. Please be aware, in an effort to reduce prices some companies may run a composite sample, which is a combination of all samples taken in one test.  Where there is absolutely nothing wrong with this method, it may give less accurate results than testing each sample individually.  Secondly, beware of the fine print!  It is possible that soil testing analysis reports may have notes that read, “Areas underneath the tank may have different results”.

Regardless of the sample results around the tank, if there are any holes discovered in the tank during the removal process, it is likely that a case number will be created and submitted to the NJDEP.  If holes are discovered in a Previously filled/decomissioned tank, in some cases it becomes the decision of the City or Municipality as to whether a NJDEP Case Number will be required.In situations where a NJDEP Case Number is created, the area under the tank will require a Soil Investigation/Remediation.  During this investigation, A subsurface evaluator will use a PID (Photo Ionization Detector) as a guide to determine whether any contaminated soil needs to be removed from the area.  A detailed report will be a required submission to the NJDEP in order to receive a NFA, No further Action letter.

It is our opinion that doing Soil Borings and taking samples from around the perimeter of a buried oil tank may offer inaccurate results.  While this is not always the case and only our opinion, it is a scenario that may cost the client unnecessary money and time.

In Conclusion:

ADS has been hired multiple times to remove Underground Oil Tanks after the area around the Tank has been bored, sampled and tested by a laboratory for contamination.  During the Tank Removal process,  holes are discovered in the tank and the soil underneath the tank area requires site investigation and remediation.  In certain cases we have discovered contamination after doing investigation.  We understand that this is an unfortunate situation for the party involved, but it is a situation that will require attention with or without the additional cost of Soil Borings and sampling.

We hope this has been a helpful article.  For more information or help please contact us here.

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  • Kenneth Gladman
    May 18, 2017, 9:03 pm REPLY

    I like that you mentioned reading the fine print on your reports. You want to be sure and get the full and accurate report. Some companies can try and hide things in the fine print.

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