Five underground storage tank FAQs

Want to know more about underground storage tanks? We’ve got you covered with some fast facts!

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Why can underground oil tanks pose a concern?

Petroleum products were once stored underground in steel tanks, but these UST’s had a finite lifespan and rust would lead to corrosion in the tank shell and seam. This resulted in polluting products leaking into the ground. Government legislation tightened up the use of these underground storage tanks and, as a result, most people are moving away from the old single-wall varieties.

Why do these tanks end up corroding?

Metals based on iron will always tend to rust in order to return to their original, more stable form – what we see as rust. The speed at which this happens depends on factors such as pH acidity, soil moisture, physical tank location, the thickness of the wall, volume of liquid held, the tank’s age and any damage that may have occurred during installation. Typically, any single-walled underground storage tank will rust within twenty years and need replacing as part of a tank decommissioning process.

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Are these tanks subject to legislation?

This depends in which country you live and which state or county. Contact your local environmental services or council office to find out more about tank decommissioning and the law.

Has my property got an underground storage tank – how can I tell?

If you are buying a new property, especially in a rural area, look for signals. These include disconnected oil lines which may pass through foundation walls (indicating lines of supply and return), filler pipes, vent pipes and concrete channels in a basement floor. This will suggest that there is a tank located in the ground, or that there was once one that has since been removed. A professional environmental analyst can also use a metal detector and other specialist equipment to identify a buried underground storage tank.

I’ve got an underground storage tank on my property – what shall I do?

If you have bought the property with the tank there, you should be provided with paperwork that shows its age and other particulars. If this doesn’t exist, a specialist environmental or land remediation consultant can carry out an assessment to see whether there is any leakage or imminent danger of rusting and petroleum product leaks.

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