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Underground Storage Tanks and Purchasing Commercial Property

August 14, 2014 | Posted in Blog

When purchasing a commercial property, it’s important to consider not just what’s on the surface, but what’s found below. Underground storage tanks on the premises become your responsibility once you purchase the property, and if they are leaking, the onus is on you to deal with the leak. Before you purchase a commercial property, it’s important to take the following steps with regard to underground storage tanks.

Determine if there are USTs on the property
Even on properties that might not seem likely candidates for USTs, it’s entirely possible that there is a tank on site. A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is a useful tool for determining if there are any tanks on-site, as well as a number of potential environmental obstacles.

Determine if the Tanks are leaking
Leakage may be uncovered during the Phase I ESA, especially if the tank is of newer double-walled construction. Older single-walled tanks may pose more of a challenge. You will have to determine what was stored in the tank when it was taken out of use, and if there is anything left in the tank. If water is found to be present in the tank, then it’s almost a guaranteed sign that there is a leak.

Moving Forward
If there is a leak, it’s likely that you will be obligated to clean it up. Statutory and EPA guidelines will be your guide in this situation. If the tank is old and no longer in you, you will be required to remove the tank. A tank distribution company can assist you with the proper removal of old underground storage tanks to ensure that no damage is done and that any contaminated soil is properly disposed of.

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