Home Heating Oil Tanks

In 1937 heating oil replaced coal as the primary source for heating homes until the 1970s or when electric heat pumps became popular. The oil was stored in underground storage tanks (UST) or above ground storage tanks (AST). Most tanks installed during this time were constructed of steel and can range in size from 250 gallons to 1,000 gallons. These tanks can leak and create large liabilities for current or future property owners.

The team at Cohesion can assist you in locating a tank, determine if the tank leaked, remove the tank and assist with any cleanup.

How to locate an Underground Storage Tank?

An underground storage tank (UST) is often located by the vent and fill pipes that stick out of the ground. In some situations, these pipes are missing, and locating the UST is not always easy. Fortunately, the staff at Cohesion have over 20+ years of experience and several instruments to potentially locate a hidden USTs.

Learn more about our Site Inspection Service

How to determine if a tank leaked?

Once a tank location is known, the tank can be removed or inspected by soil boring's to determine if it leaked. Note: there is a chance to miss the detection of a leak during a site inspection by soil boring's since we may have collected samples where the leak did not occur. Removing a tank and inspecting the soil underneath the tank provides the best chance to determine if a leak occurred. Most leaks occur from the bottom of the tank (UST), so most leaks are not visible from land surfaces above the tank. We remove tanks and conduct a soil inspection for a very competitive price.

Learn more about our tank inspection service.

So the tank didn't leak, what should a property owner do?

Most tanks, even though they have not leaked, might contain enough water or heating oil that, if not removed or cleaned, could cause a potential environmental liability in the future. As Environmental Land Specialist, we feel that removing the tank helps property owners reduce their liability and gives you the best opportunity to utilize your property as you wish.  In some situations, abandoning your tank in place can be an alternative solution.

So the tank did leak, what’s next?

If the tank did leak and is above the NCDEQ reporting levels, it is required to report the leak to the NCDEQ within 24 hours of discovery.  In our 20-day report to the NCDEQ, we will present information regarding the tank and leak. Depending on the location of the leak, the NCDEQ will either classify your site as high or low risk depending on the proximity of a well.

NCDEQ classified my property a Low Risk, what’s next?

Under current regulations, tank removal, tank abandonment, or cleanup is not a requirement for low-risk sites. NCDEQ will require the completion of either Option A or Option B to get a No Further Action letter, which is needed before you can sell or purchase the property:

Option A

  1. A Notice of Residual Petroleum (NRP) will need recording with the Register of Deeds. An NRP will place restrictions on any activity that can occur on, over, or under the location of the site of the tank so that the soil is not disturbed. Also, the site will have a restriction prohibiting the use of any groundwater.
  2. A Public Notice of the contamination is required to be sent to the neighbors located near the property.

Option B

  1. Remove all impacted soil and groundwater. This option does not restrict how you can use your property. 

NCDEQ classified my property a High Risk, what’s next?

The NCDEQ will require removal of all impacted soil and groundwater with the tank to obtain a No Further Action letter unless the risk classification is changed to low.


Cohesion provides heating oil tank inspections, tank removal, and as required by the NCDEQ any environment cleanup and recording in all of North Carolina including Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Garner, Burlington, Hillsborough, and Fayetteville. Please call us at 919-233-8626 or email us to schedule an initial assessment of your unique situation.