Photograph of - is this heating oil running across the basement floor? Notice the abandoned oil line at the furnace? Buried Tank and Above Ground Oil Tank Leak Reporting & Tank Abandonment Regulations
Federal & State, National & Provincial Oil Tank Laws

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Oil storage tank reguations guide:

This document outlines the basic rules for reporting oil tank leaks and abandoning oil tanks which are no longer to be used. It provides locates and summarizes oil tank abandonment guidelines providing oil tank regulations for all of the U.S. states and for several Canadian provinces, it provides state and national building or environmental code references for abandoning oil tanks including procedures for temporary abandonment and for handling of tanks when converting to other fuels.

In the U.S. some state regulations concerning underground or aboveground oil storage tanks can be a bit difficult to locate, or in a few cases they are nonexistent. This document collects all of them and includes brief summary comments about various state oil tank regulation programs. Researchers wanting to compare oil tank regulation and statistics across the U.S. will want to refer to this document.

We also provide links to programs offering financial aid to people lacking the means to pay for abandonment or removal of residential oil tanks both at a national and at state levels. Programs offering such assistance are invited to contact us to add their information to this listing.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Oil Leak Reporting Requirements & Oil Tank Registration at Residential Properties

We've been collecting copies of environmental regulations regarding oil storage tanks for U.S. states and Canadian provinces since 1990. Regulations regarding identification, testing, and removal or abandonment of buried tanks vary widely from state to state in the U.S., Canada, and other countries.

Article contents

Oil Tank Abandonment Regulations: buried & above ground heating oil storage tanks

This text summarizes oil tank abandonment regulations.

Abandonment (discontinued use) of buried oil or other storage tanks is regulated in most U.S. states as well as in other countries for safety, to avoid cave-ins, to avoid leaving flammable liquids at a site (a fire hazard), and also for environmental protection, to avoid leaving heating oil or other stored liquids in a container which may leak into and contaminate the environment, as well as to assure that if such a tank has already leaked, the leak will be discovered and properly cleaned-up.

The regulations require that buried oil storage tanks be removed, which leaves a large hole to be filled-in, or, provided there is no evidence of leakage, a buried oil storage tank can be filled in-place with a solid, inert material. Filling the tank also keeps the tank from floating up out of the ground in areas of rising water table. Tanks are filled with sand, concrete, or special foams.

Not only is the oil tank excavated, emptied, cleaned, and inspected for leaks, but also all fill and vent lines are removed from the tank.

Old oil lines between the tank and building may be left in place in some jurisdictions, but the lines are capped off.

Above ground oil storage tanks that are to be abandoned may also be regulated, depending on where you live.

NFPA 31(2011) Section 7.12 regulation on removal of above-ground oil-storage tanks and pipes after abandonment requires that tank, fill, vent and supply tubing be disconnected, cleaned and removed from the premises.

An exception is allowed if the unit was converted to an alternate fuel, and the tank is kept for switching back, the tank/pipes must be emptied and purged of vapors, the VENT PIPE must remain intact and open, the fill pipe must be plugged with concrete, and all other pipes and openings capped or sealed. State and local laws vary. - NHFireBear 05/11/2015

In the U.S., federal commercial UST regulations require for sites where more than 1,100 gallons of fuel or heating oil were stored must also be checked for contamination.

List of Government Contacts for Oil Tank Information & Regulations for Canada

Contact the Environmental or TSSA office in your province (Canada): [U.S. state regulations are listed below].

Canadian Provincial Environmental Regulatoins for Oil Tanks: Above Ground and Under Ground

List of U.S. State Environmental Regulations & State Offices for Oil Tank and Oil Spill Regulation & Advice

Contact the DEC/DEP/DNR office in your state (U.S.)

Oil Storage Tank Installation, Clearance Distances, Piping Regulations, Codes, Standards

Oil Storage Tank & Piping Codes, Standards, Inspection Procedures

The oil tank piping installation and testing standards cited below are the most-widely adopted throughout states and cities in the U.S.

U.S. State Oil Tank Regulation & Environmental Agency Directory by State*



In the U.S. many state DEP/DEC/DNR (Departments of Environmental Conservation or similar agencies) have programs for registering buried tanks at any site storing more than 1100 gallons of heating oil. The choice of 1,100 gallons was probably chosen by the states in order to exclude the largest common home heating oil storage tank size which is 1,000 gallons.

Requirements for gas (auto fuel), or other fuels may be different. Eventually this concern may spread to smaller residential tanks. The concern is for leaks which contaminate the environment. Tanks located where they may leak into a local waterway or into the water supply are a special environmental concerns. (C)trap DJ Friedman.

Examples of oil tank leak reporting requirements and oil tank registration requirements are given here. Please see specific regulations by state or country for the details of your locale. Also in many states, such as New York in the U.S., local governments (such as Long Island in New York) may have enacted specific reporting laws for their region.

Reporting Oil Tanks and Oil Leaks in New York

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, which has regulations similar to those of most U.S. states, has a program requiring the registration of buried tanks at any site storing more than 1100 gallons of heating oil. Though specific reporting details may vary, most U.S. states have similar requirements. Requirements for gas (auto fuel), or other fuels may be different as well.

Oil Tank registration: The presence of a buried (or above ground) oil storage tank at a residential property does not need to be reported to the DEC provided the onsite storage volume is less than 1100 gallons.

Oil Storage Tank Leak Reporting:If a leak is detected at any fuel storage tank, it must be reported to the state Department of Environmental Conservation within two hours. (State DEC telephone numbers are provided below in this document.) The concern is for leaks which contaminate the environment. Tanks located where they may leak into a local waterway or into the water supply are a special environmental concern.

Reporting Oil Tanks and Oil Leaks in Maryland

Using a second U.S. state, Maryland, as example, if soil or groundwater contamination is found during oil tank (or presumably any other) excavation, the contamination must be reported to Maryland Department of the Environment immediately upon discovery.

Phone number: 410/631-3442 or after hours 410/974-3551. Maryland, like New York, requires that any residential heating oil storage tank greater than 1,100 gallons in capacity must be required to be registered with MDE. We add that the choice of 1,100 gallons was probably chosen by the states in order to exclude the largest common home heating oil storage tank size which is 1,000 gallons.

Heating oil tank regulations vary widely in other countries. According to Project Clean Oslofjord in Norway, "ninety per cent of the 13,000 buried oil tanks that are registered in Oslo are more than 20 years old, and 37% more than 40 years old. The danger of leakage is acute.

A new regulation from the Norwegian Ministry of environmental protection that requires maintenance checks of buried oil tanks applies initially only to tanks over 3,200 liters, namely half of the tanks. Calculations show that the total number of buried oil tanks in Oslo could be over 35,000. The Oslo local authority does not have any control with two thirds of these, because they are not registered."

For oil tanks within the regulated size range, since 1997 owners of such oil storage tanks must have the tanks checked at a frequency that depends on tank type: single- or double-bottomed steel tanks the first check is after 15 years. After the initial test, such tanks shall be checked every fifth year.

For less leak-prone fiberglass tanks (glass fibre reinforced polyester) the tanks must be pressure-tested two years after burial, and afterwards at 30 years. [ - 4/25/2006]


Continue reading at BULK STORAGE OF PETROLEUM PRODUCTS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

If your oil tank is leaking see OIL TANK LEAK ADVICE.

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