How are underground storage tanks removed?

Underground tanks that are no longer in use can be a worry for homeowners. There’s always the possibility of a leak from any product left in the tank. Alternatively, the tank, or its remaining contents, could pollute your land, or neighbouring properties. And if you want to sell or re-mortgage your home, the tank may affect the valuation because some buyers may find the idea off-putting. They realise that they will be taking over the decommissioning and removal responsibility.

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So it’s a good idea, if you no longer need the tank, to have it removed. This isn’t as simple as digging it up and arranging for it to be taken away. There are a lot of rules and regulations around the way that tanks are “decommissioned” – that is, emptied, removed, broken up and transported to a disposal site.

Environmental risks

Usually, unused storage tanks still contain remnants of what they were storing. Indeed, you may have moved into a property containing such a tank and inherited its contents. The problem is that if the tank leaks, it can cause an environmental pollution incident. As the polluter, you would have to pay the costs of the clean-up, which could include liability for lost business or other losses from properties that have been affected.

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Government compliance

There is a lot of government guidance on decommissioning. This is because decommissioning is one of the riskiest stages in the lifecycle of a storage facility. The tank can break up, leaking its contents. Or gases inside the tank can lead to illness on the part of the people dealing with the decommissioning. What’s more, the full paperwork has to be completed exactly as specified. That’s why most people use a professional tank decommissioning service such as

What a tank decommissioning company will do:

Survey the site, assess the risks, make a plan and get the relevant paperwork completed.

Engage a team of properly trained, experienced and equipped operators.

Drain the tank and dispose of its contents safely.

Remove it in one piece, or safely break it up.

Dispose of it in accordance with the regulations.

Complete the final documentation.

Today, the fact is that the decommissioning process is not really suitable for non-specialists, given the amount of regulation that now applies.

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