Did you install a fuel tank at your airpark home at one time or another? Did you buy a place with an underground tank? What is the size of that tank? Is that tank underground? Is it still there and in use? Is it simply in the ground, even if you aren’t using it any more.
If that tank is 1,000 gallons or less and on your private property for personal use, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations probably don’t apply to you. If it is over 1,000 gallons, even on your own grounds, all the regulations that apply to the corner gas station, probably do apply to you.
Some states have their own regulations concerning fuel tanks, so you need to find out how they apply to your installation or the property you are considering.
During the early 1970s and even in the 1980s it was quite common for people to obtain a fuel tank of 500 to 1,000 gallons, dig a hole and bury the thing to keep it out of sight. Back then the fuel dealers were happy to sell fuel to individuals and and dump it into those tanks. Pumps were relatively inexpensive and the installation of an individual systems was real easy to set up.
If there were two or three adjacent property owners sharing the installation cost and the funds for that first tank of fuel, the entire operation worked out real well.
And for many, many years, individuals and small residential airparks operated that way, safely and economically.
However, with the growth and development of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) things have changed drastically.
Have you noticed all the gas stations being rebuilt? Witnessed all the fuel tanks being dug up and discarded and new tanks installed on beds of dirt and fine sand and stabilized with extreme measures? How about all the corner gas stations that have gone out of business? Ever wonder why? Primarily because EPA has required the tanks be tested at considerable expense and replaced at a certain age. Mortgage companies are requiring environmental investigations of commercial and residential properties to make sure they aren’t going to face a future lawsuit over underground pollution.
If you have a tank in the ground that’s over 1,000 gallons, you probably have not been able to get anyone to sell you fuel for it unless it has been registered with the EPA and tested because the jobbers don’t want to take the risk of getting into trouble with the EPA.
It might be a smart move for property owners with tanks, regardless of size, to consider all the consequences in the near future. If that tank is in the ground when you try to sell, it could raise a red flag for a mortgage lender or title insurance company. The prospective buyer may require testing at that time or want a considerable insurance policy or considerable discount to cover future problems.
If you have a system that has been checked and tested and approved and the fuel company is still making deliveries, your risk is probably considerably less. However, there is still the likelihood that at one time or another you will face some expensive issues as a result of that fuel tank on your own property.
Even if the fuel system is a coop type program for all or most of the airpark property owners you may want to check into this issue carefully to determine the risks and potential liabilities you face. You may discover that your present savings in fuel costs can quickly evaporate with any problem like leakage or spill.