Underground Oil Tanks: Frequently Asked Question

Underground Oil Tank

I would like to list my single family detached house for sale on MLS, do I need to find out if I have an underground oil tank on my property?

It is very important to find out if there is an underground oil tank on your property before placing your house for sale. If your house was built after 1960 it is very unlikely there is an underground oil tank;  houses built prior to 1960 are more likely to have an underground oil tank.

The first step you should take is to have the property scanned by a professional licensed oil tank removal company.  Once the oil tank company has scanned the property they will be able to establish if an oil tank exists. If there is no oil tank, you will be given an official certificate stating there was no oil tank found on the property. If an oil tank was found you will be given a written report showing where the underground tank is located.

I have an underground oil tank on my property. How much will it cost to have it removed?

The oil tank removal cost depends on the following factors:

  • the size of the tank
  • where it is buried
  • how much oil is remaining in the tank
  • permit cost
  • and if there has been a leak from the tank resulting in soil contamination.

If there is no soil contamination and the tank can be more easily be removed, the costs range from $2,000 to $3,000. It is important to get two or more quotes due to varying rates of oil tank removal companies.

How will I know if there is soil contamination?

The City of Vancouver now requires a (MOE) Ministry of Environment personnel visit the property after the tank has been extracted to have soil samples taken from around the area of where the tank was located. The samples will be taken to a certified lab and analyzed. A written documented will be provided stating whether there is or no contamination.

What happens if there is soil contamination?

If there is soil contamination, the contaminated soil will have to be removed. This is the area where the costs can get very expensive and it takes time. The cost will vary on how much contamination must be removed. Another (MOE) report will be done once the contaminated soil is fully removed. Upon successful removal of all contaminate soil you will be provided with an official certificate of completion.

What if I decide to sell my property with an underground oil tank?

I do not recommend selling a property nor buying a property with an underground oil tank because:

  • Most banks will not finance/mortgage a property with an underground oil tank.
  • Most insurance companies will not insure with a property with an underground oil tank.
  • There will be a negative impact on the property’s value.

How long does it take to remove an oil tank?

If the tank is not obstructed by any structure it should only take 2 to 3 days. Oil tank companies only refill the hole back with soil and do not restore the landscaping to its original state. More time should be allowed to restore the landscaping.

How do I know which licensed oil tank companies I should call for quotes?

I recommend getting three quotes from local certified and licensed oil tank removal companies. Three quotes is recommended if there is an oil tank found that is obstructed or has leaked.

If you have any questions please call or email me. As mentioned, I have assisted in many oil tank removals. This is part of my job when assisting home owners who are preparing their property for sale.

Written by Don Urquhart – Vancouver Realtor Since 1987


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