OIL TANK ABANDONMENT ON LONG ISLAND
I don't know if this applies to other states but, here on Long Island, when you convert to gas heat from oil, the oil tank must be abandoned properly. Years ago, it didn't matter but, with the new concern for environmental protection, soil and water contamination are, understandably, a very hot topic.
When you convert to gas heat in your home, besides removing the old oil burner and boiler, you must also give thought to how you're going to decommission your old oil tank that may be buried beneath the ground. It's not just a recommendation; it's the law.
Even if your oil tank was emptied and the fill pipes were plugged before the conversion, it's likely there remains a little oil or sludge. Over time, the tank will start to decompose and what's left on the inside will leak out. This is the real concern.
Oil tanks can be filled with sand or foam or you can have it pulled from the ground. There are companies, like this one Windmill Oil Tank that provide this service. When it's done properly, the homeowner receives a certificate. In Nassau County, the Department of Health also gets a certificate that is kept on file. I wish I could say the process works the same in Suffolk County but there, this rule has only sporadically been enforced, to date, and homeowners have often misplaced the paperwork or never had it to begin with.
This can make home sales even more complicated than necessary and possibly delay the contract signing while all interested parties attempt to figure out if the oil tank was ever legally abandoned and, if necessary, how it will be remedied. You may wonder how it's possible that the homeowners don't know if the job has been done but, if the conversion took place twenty years ago, and the owners are elderly, it's likely that they've long forgotten.
Yet, this is a failure that can't be overlooked in today's housing market. Often, attorneys will not close unless this problem has been addressed and homeowner's insurance for the new residents may be difficult to get. The new buyers will likely incur tremendous costs if the job is not done prior to their move and the future resale potential of the property will be effected if the job is not done at all.
Just something else to worry about...
Picture courtesy of Sharonmleon's photostream via Flickr.com's Creative Commons License