Discovering an old Underground Storage Tank (UST) on a property can create headaches for the sellers, buyers, and real estate agents alike. Older versions of these tanks present an environmental hazard. If the tank is no longer in use, it must be removed or properly abandoned by a Maryland Department of Energy (MDE) approved contractor before settlement. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prior to the 1980, manufactures made tanks out of bare steel This material can corrode over time and contaminate groundwater.
1. Old USTs have to go.
All Maryland realtors should be aware of the regulations surrounding USTs. The average life-span of an underground tank is 20 years. Without proper documentation stating otherwise, it’s reasonable to assume the tank is much older. It is not worth the expense (often upwards of $600) to test a tank that is older than 20 years. No owner wants to admit that their tank is leaking. It is expensive and messy to fix. But no buyer wants the hassle and expense of disposing of these old tanks either. It is the responsibility of the seller to disclose the status of the UST. If it is older than 20 years, have the tank removed before offering the property for sale. Otherwise, all parties risk delaying the sale of the property.
2. Check for contaminated soil.
It is increasingly more difficult to sell a property with an aging UST, and if one exists the best course of action is to remove the tank, not abandon it. Before closing on a property with a UST, banks, mortgage companies, and home insurance companies will expect proof that the UST has been properly disposed of and has not contaminated the surrounding soil. If there is contaminated soil, the MDE Home Reimbursement Fund (HRF) will often reimburse out-of-pocket expenses. A full disclosure report before settlement will need to include:
- pictures of the tank removal
- soil sample analysis from a lab
- a written report detailing the completed work
3. The earlier, the better.
The process of dealing with a contaminated tank can be extensive and expensive. It can take months of work to make a site MDE compliant. That is why it is so important that the owner takes care of these issues prior to selling the property. Once under contract, long delays due to an environmental hazard may cause the owner to incur additional escrow expenses to cover the costs of remediation, and the buyer will have to wait potentially months for the work to cease so that they can assume the property.
4. Call GreenTRAX.
GreenTRAX has a long 25-year history of working with property owners and realtors to remove these potentially dangerous tanks. GreenTRAX can remove the tank, remove contaminated soil, and implement a plan to correct possible leaks into the owner’s sump pump basin, basement, or the potable water well.
Just as an owner would never ignore an aging leaky roof, an owner should never ignore the potential dangers surrounding an old Underground Storage Tank. Call GreenTRAX, Inc. today to help you get started, and get your property on the market in no time!