I understand that you cannot sell a home in NJ with an underground oil tank – is that true?
There is currently no regulation prohibiting anyone from selling a home with an underground oil tank in NJ. The fact of the matter is that homes with an underground tank are less likely to sell as quickly as those with an above ground oil tank or gas. Also, attorneys will always talk about the unknown liability of a house with an underground oil tank.
As a realtor, I have a client who had their underground tank foam filled some time ago. They have the permit, the inspection ticket and the CA from the town. The buyer is asking them to remove the tank if they want to sell to them. What should we do?
While it is within the regulations to abandon an underground tank in place, it is also undesirable to purchase a house with that tank in the ground. The real solution would be to remove the tank – short of that, soil sampling below and around the tank would yield important information. Once again, remember what you are going through now will come around again when the house is ready for sale.
I have a client who has an underground tank and needs to sell, but cannot afford the removal cost – is there some program available? What if the tank is a leaker?
Depending on the situation, we have done the work for both non-leaking and leaking tanks and have had our invoice paid at closing on the HUD. We can apply to the leaking tank fund for reimbursement for a leader. The process takes five years at the present time, but they will pay.
My client has no money and must sell their house. They need to remove an underground oil tank. Can they pay for your services at closing?
We have made arrangements like that depending on the circumstances. We want to be on the HUD statement – but what if the house doesn’t close?
What is going on with NJDEP funds for leaking tanks?
The last election included a vote to fund open space and take some of the money for the underground tank fund for open space – the vote was for open space and it then caused the underground tank fund to lose some funding, therefore, there is not as much money available.
What can we do if the seller refuses to remove the underground tank and my clients are really interested in the house?
You can suggest that you share the cost of the tank removal (approximately $1400) or pay for it yourself. Another option would be to sample around the tank to find any impacted soil – sampling is about 90% accurate, but it may be the best alternative. Also, if the seller is refusing to remove the tank, there must be a reason!
What percentage of the tanks that you remove are leakers?
It has been our experience after removing hundreds of underground tanks that about 20% of all the tanks we remove are leakers. Of that 20% number, less than 2% have been extraordinarily expensive projects (over 100K).
How much does a leaking tank cost to cure?
The average leaking tank will cost approximately $6500 with no groundwater impact. With groundwater impacted, the cost would be around $22,000 assuming that the impact did not advance below the footprint of the house.
My client has ProGuard and they want to transfer the warranty with the house – is that a good idea?
Yes, if they are staying with oil heat – if they are planning to switch to gas, you should look at the ProGuard charges so you understand. There is a $500 service fee to remove the tank and a $2500 deductable fee. Also, you must use oil for 12 more months after the underground tank is removed.
What is the process to get a No Further Action letter? When a tank has leaked, must it be called in to the NJDEP Hotline?
The DEP wants to know that there is nothing remaining in the soil and/or water above the state criteria (published). Samples are collected and analyzed at a certified laboratory. The results are compiled into a report and that is sent to NJDEP asking for the No Further Action letter. The entire process from tank removal to the No Further Action letter takes about 2-3 months.
The buyer’s lawyer wants to have an electronic scan of the property to look for any underground tanks – is that something you can do?
Yes, we also like to go inside the house if possible to see the basement first, then we electronically scan the exterior of the house with a specialized metal detector. We then provide a written report of findings.
My client needs a tank tested – is that something you can do? What is the difference between a pressure test and soil sampling?
We do soil sampling, which looks at the soil below the tank sides. The soil is collected and then delivered to an NJDEP certified laboratory for analysis. We then provide a written report of findings. Since vacuum testing is normally done when the tanks are going to be left in service, this is not the most advisable method to determine impact to the soil and is generally used at gasoline stations.