Tips for finding records on decommissioned oil tanks in Olympia, WA
Some older homes in the Olympia WA area relied on buried and sometimes above-ground oil tanks to fuel their furnaces to heat their homes. Many of these homes have since been converted to natural gas or electric and the oil tank is now not in use. Oil tanks can last for about 30 years before they start to corrode and potentially start to leak oil into the soil and groundwater.
Decommissioning a tank involves either digging out the tank and removing it or leaving the tank in place and filling it with material such as concrete.
In a real estate transaction, trying to find these records of decommissioning is very challenging. And if there are no records to be found, that doesn’t necessarily mean the tank was not decommissioned properly because permits may not have been required.
Currently, I’m on the hunt to find records for a home in the city limits of Lacey WA. The City of Lacey does not require a permit nor an inspection, which really makes it impossible to find records. As a last resort, I’m calling oil tank decommissioning companies in the area to see if they did the work and have archived their records, but this is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
To find records on an unused oil tank, here are the resources I can suggest:
- Look for permitting records. The cities of Lacey and Tenino are the only two cities where permits are NOT required for oil tank decommissioning. The other cities in Thurston County do require permits.
- If the home is within a city’s limits, call that city’s building department to see if they have records. If the home is in unincorporated Thurston County, contact the building department at (360) 786-5490.
- If no luck there, try contacting the Thurston County Environmental Health Department.
- If no records are available, try the Washington State Department of Ecology. They may have records if there was soil or groundwater contamination.
- The fire department is no longer required to be involved with residential oil tank decommissioning unless the property is within the city limits of Olympia.
- Last resort, call contractors who may have done the work.
This is also a very good reminder for homeowners to keep good records of all work done on the property.
For more information about abandoned oil tanks, visit the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services site at https://www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehhw/oiltanks.html