Frequently Asked Questions

Should you tell buyers about your home heating oil tank?

The State of North Carolina Residential Property Disclosure Statement (Item 12) requires property owners to disclose “Environmental Hazards” such as underground storage tanks (USTs), prior to selling a property.

You are not required to remove your home heating oil tank if it has not leaked; however, a petroleum leak from any UST is regulated by NCDEQ and action is required.

According to North Carolina general statutes you may still be the owner of a tank even after you sold the property; therefore, you could be liable for a tank that started leaking after you sold the property. Therefore, it is recommended to landowners to at least determine if a tank did or did not leak prior to a sale of property.

A leaking UST can be a financial liability. The liability of the UST can transfer to you with the sale of property unless provisions are made. Therefore, it is important to determine the financial liabilities associated with a UST prior to purchasing property.

According NCDEQ the “statutory tank owner” is responsible for the release from the tank. The “statutory tank owner” is determined by the date the tank was last used. If it was last used before November 8, 1984 then the last party who used that UST is considered the tank owner (even if that party no longer owns the property). However, if that tank was used on or after November 8, 1984, anyone that owned the property would be considered the tank owner even if that person never used it.

Most of the time total petroleum hydrocarbon analysis of a sample strategically collected near the tank will indicate if a tank has leaked. The cost to inspect a UST ranges depending on location and urgency. Call Cohesion for an estimate.

Although the removal of a UST is not required, in most cases it is recommended. If the UST did not leak and is not removed, Cohesion recommends pumping and properly disposing all fluids from the tank to protect the UST from future leakage. Keep all documentation indicating tank status and fluid disposal information with the property records.

According to NCDEQ’s rules and regulations, a leak must be reported within twenty-four hours to NCDEQ. Violation of this regulation is punishable by law with fines up to $10,000 per day. A leaking UST is subject to additional federal and state regulations requiring assessment and cleanup. We recommend calling Cohesion for advice and guidance. All client and property information is kept confidential.

If contamination from a leaking UST is not cleaned up to unrestricted use standards, NCDEQ regulations will require a Notice of Residual Petroleum (NRP) to be attached to the deed.  The NRP is a land use restriction for a defined area of the property. Cohesion Flow Chart If there is an exposure risk, clean up is required.

Contaminant exposure risk is determined by proximity of sensitive receptors and/or preferential contaminant migration pathways. Sensitive receptors are humans, animals, or plants susceptible to exposure via water supply wells, surface water, vapors or free product in basements or crawl-spaces. Preferential migration pathways include buried utilities, foundation drainage, and septic systems. Other exposure risks include direct contact to surface contamination due to UST overflow or leaking above ground storage tank (AST).

No, as of October 1, 2015 there is no longer a non-commercial UST Trust Fund to help with cleanup costs.

When a property is petroleum contaminated, several rules and regulations apply to that property. Failure to properly follow applicable regulations and procedures may result in fines and penalties. Cohesion has the experience and environmental knowledge necessary to help you comply with the rules and regulations.