QUESTION: There’s a fuel tank in the ground on the residential airpark property I am interested in acquiring. The seller hasn’t had fuel delivered in a number of years but he says the tank is sound and there’s no reason it can’t be filled by a local distributor of av gas or auto fuel. What are the rules on this? Can I buy fuel in bulk? I know a lot of gas stations in town have had to dig up and replace their fuel tanks and I’ve heard that’s costly. Would a property like I’m looking at require that type action?
ANSWER: For a long time I understood oil companies wouldn’t even consider delivering fuel to an individual with only a 1,000-gallon tank in the ground. Further, it was also my understanding that they couldn’t service such a location unless the EPA or some similar agency had certified the tank.
Recently I did some additional checking into the situation and here’s what I found:
Oil companies can sell fuel to an individual and deliver it to your underground tank in any quantity that works out for both parties. However, before the oil company can legally deliver the fuel and pump it into your underground storage tank they must see your Underground Storage Tank permit. In order to obtain such a permit, you must register your tank with the EPA (or whatever the appropriate agency is in the state). That agency will come out and check your tank to make sure there are no leaks or other problems that can contaminate the surrounding ground.
Assuming all checks out properly, they will issue you a permit which can then be forwarded to the oil company and they can then legally sell fuel to you and deliver it to your tank.
What is required to allow a complete check of the tank and what is required to maintain its integrity wasn’t clear to me in the online search that I made.
So, it appears it is possible to obtain fuel in bulk for your underground storage tank but you are the responsible party for making sure it doesn’t leak and meets all the requirements of the EPA, both state and federal requirements.
My concern about older tanks in the ground has always been the cost of removing them and performing the required remediation of the soil if the EPA requires such actions because of leakage. It appears that if there are tanks in the ground that aren’t being used and you don’t plan to try and get them approved for fuel, there is little risk of the EPA or other similar agencies finding out about the tanks and requiring removal of them.