Why do I have to remove my previously filled Oil Tank?

The Truth About Previously Filled Oil Tanks

At ADS, we frequently are asked by our clients, “Why do I have to remove my Oil tank that was previously filled in place?”  Perhaps they had the Oil tank filled with sand a few years ago or purchased the house with the tank already filled.  They may even have copies of proper township documentation and contractor receipts.

Just a few years ago, it was a popular option to have your Oil tank filled with sand and abandoned in place.  The option was less expensive, less of an intrusion, and less likely to discover a problem, such as a leak if there was one.

Previousyl Filled Tank

As the years went by, and the economy began to slow down, the market was attracting smarter buyers.  The banks began to become strict with lending and the insurance companies were becoming involved in the environmental aspects of properties.  It was becoming the norm that people wanted Oil tanks out of the ground.

The issue is this, when people were filling their Oil Tanks with sand and abandoning them they were trying to do the right thing.  The clients would hire a contractor to fill their Oil Tank.  Firstly, they would file for permits and  set up the inspection with the city or town inspector.  Secondly they would hand dig a 4 x 4 hole down to the top of the tank.  A Technician would cut a small hole in the top of the tank, remove any liquids left inside, enter and scrape and dispose of sludge.  The tank would then be wiped clean, and inspected.  Finally, the Tank would be filled with sand and back filled.  In most cases, the contractor would supply a certificate and the township an inspection sticker.

Now, Here is the issue with the Entire Process.

Without Removing the Tank, the inspector can’t tell if there are any holes in the bottom .

No inspector can tell if an oil tank has leaked by looking through a small hole in the top.

Even if there may have been a leak, it was easily undetected.


The bottom line is that MANY oil tanks were filled with sand and abandoned in place even though they were leaking!  WITHOUT PULLING THE TANK OUT OF THE GROUND COMPLETELY  IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW IF THE TANK IS LEAKING!

So moving along, the buyer purchases the property from the seller who has all the proper documentation for an oil Tank that is actually leaking.  The new homeowner decides to put in a pool a few years down the road, has the tank removed only to find out that Site Remediation is now required due to the leaking.  Not the Sellers Problem anymore!

This has happened many times in the past and ADS Environmental is here to help!!

Buyers:  Have the Oil Tank removed before the purchase of a house.  If the sellers don’t have the money, perhaps you can negotiate the price of the home to compensate the cost.  If your not sure that a tank exists, Schedule a Tank Sweep!

Sellers:  If you have a previously filled tank we would recommend removing it before you put the house on the market.  It can take months to deal with environmental concerns if they become necessary.  Buyers will have mortgage deadlines and you may lose sales if you wait too long.

Please contact ADS Environmental with any questions about Previously Filled Tanks.



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  • Audrey Kinley
    June 14, 2016, 12:19 am REPLY

    I feel like the economy is always going up and down. I agree though that it does affect the sales. My dad use to work in the oil fields and when the economy got bad he got fired. I wonder though if they ever cleaned those oil tanks.

  • Braden Bills
    July 19, 2016, 1:53 pm REPLY

    I’ve always wondered why you need to get rid of your previously removed oil tank. It’s weird that people once tried to fill their oil tanks with sand and abandoning them! It seems like a waste of material. Thank you for sharing!

  • Luke Yancey
    November 17, 2016, 1:51 pm REPLY

    It makes complete sense that you need to remove the tank completely before being able to tell if it is leaking. I noticed that a lot of people were having them removed. I couldn’t understand why, but it makes complete sense now.

  • Megan Alder
    March 23, 2017, 9:27 pm REPLY

    I never knew that people would fill their oil tanks with sand. I guess they would only do that if they’re broken tanks. It’s always interesting learning new things about the oil fields.

  • Vladislav Yakov
    October 17, 2017, 3:20 am REPLY

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