Underground Storage Tank Removal Process

Removal of underground storage tanks due to leaking, corrosion or reduced tank integrity is not uncommon. Many households in New England have underground oil tanks with possible contamination that could affect the value of their property.

Most storage tanks are not empty, even if they have been abandoned for some time. And, as they age, they will deteriorate more and potentially begin to leak. This could cause significant damage to your property and the environment.

To avoid any potential leaking and property damage, you will want the tank to be removed and properly disposed of.

However, this is not something you want to do by yourself. Improperly removing an underground storage tank is dangerous. This is why there are both state and federal regulations in place to make sure they are removed in the right way.

This can make the removal process seem daunting, but it is actually not a complicated feat.

The Tank Removal Process


Your first step is to notify local and state governments of the removal. This needs to be done at least 30 days in advance.

You may also need to notify local municipalities depending on your region.

Enlist a Professionaltank removal company

You’ll then want to find a licensed professional to assist in the removal. It’s important to make sure your professional is licensed and has the proper certifications. These will vary by state, but the main purpose of the professional is to make sure you are meeting all the state regulations.

Drain the Tank

Before you can dig the tank up, you need to make sure it is empty. The materials inside the tank could be flammable or toxic, so it is essential to empty it fully.

Make the Tank Safe

The next step is to make sure the tank won’t explode. Underground storage tanks will often have oxygen left inside them after the materials are removed. Oxygen is a very flammable gas and is perfect fuel for an explosion.

Due to this, you need to remove the oxygen inside the tank and replace it with a non-flammable gas such as nitrogen. This process is also known as making the UST inert.

Dig the Tank Up

Now that it is safe, you can begin to dig the tank up. You’ll want to make sure that the areas above and around the tank are completely cleared. This will give access to the top of the tank and any additional sites that the tank piping may be connected to.

Clean and Remove Tank

After digging it up, you must clean the tank and remove it. There are proper guidelines that must be followed for each step including things such as:

  • cleaning
  • disposal of sludges/liquids
  • disconnecting from pipes
  • removal of potentially contaminated soil

Process Tank for Disposal

Depending on the location, the tank may have to be cut up on site. In most locations, you will also have to dispose of any potentially hazardous material or contaminated soils.

Check & Sample Soil

The soil around the tank needs to be sampled. Samples should be collected from the areas where the tank was sitting and areas near the tank that could have been contaminated.

After the soil is sampled and contamination is determined, the soils may need to be removed and properly disposed of.

Send Required Closure Documentation

After all of this, you will need to submit a Tank Closure Report.

A typical underground storage tank Closure Report will include:

  • results of soil/groundwater sampling
  • maps of where the samples were taken
  • documentation of storage tank disposal
  • documentation of soil/groundwater disposal

Different states will have varying requirements for their Tank Closure Reports. So be sure to check your state’s requirements to ensure you have met their standards.

You may also have to take additional steps depending on the level of contaminants in the soil/groundwater samples. If the contaminants are above the action level, a chemical specific amount set by the EPA, the state will require extra investigations into the area affected.


Leaving underground storage tanks where they are is a potential risk for contamination to the environment and your property. This is why it is important to remove them and even more important to remove them properly.

The EPA has regulations that ensure the removal of any tank, aboveground and below ground, is done safely and with minimum contaminations. They are designed to minimize risk for both you and the environment.

It is important to keep your documentation of the tank removal as they will be required for any future sales of the property. Well-documented reports will help you close sales quickly and efficiently.