Why should I check for an Oil Tank in New York?

When I bought my house I saw some unexplained pipes in the wall. The owners said that the house was heated by natural gas, they had never used oil. The inspector made no mention of the potential that there might have been an underground tank. I wasn’t taking any chances. I called a tank investigation company.

Under the Navigation Law of New York, the owner is absolutely and unconditionally responsible for oil contamination. In fact, the Department of Environmental Protection is entitled to clean up the site and bill the owner for the costs associated with cleanup.

Luckily, the tank inspection company found the tank (1000) gallons, and we refused to close unless the Sellers cleaned up, which they did at a cost of more than $30,000 (often not covered by home owners insurance). That would not have been a happy day for a new home owner. I learned my lesson, and I try to impart that knowledge to my clients.

Every client and potential home buyer I speak to I ask the same questions– Is there an oil tank? How is it heated? Do you know whether there ever was an oil tank? Shouldn’t you test the property to be sure? Some clients do, some don’t, that’s their risk.

There are various professionals out there to answer your questions, and many myths and facts about locationg underground storage tanks that could be filled with oil. Hire a professional.

The bottom line– Today’s equipment can search for underground tanks up to 20 feet deep, it is important to look for tanks so that further soil contamination can be examined; and “abandonment” of the tank is an important step before purchasing a house with a burried oil tank.

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