Heating Oil Tank Removal and Cleanup

On occasion I think to myself, “I would not like to get in a wrestling match with dude X.”  A couple hours after Pat and Matt showed up to remove the oil tank, I thought, “I would not like to get in a shoveling competition with Pat.”  Not to mention, I wrestling with them probably wouldn’t be too much fun either.  And this coming from a guy who loves to dig.  That said, I don’t think I’m ready to make oil tank removal my vocation anytime soon.  

The guys get started by laying out plastic to pile the refuse (dirt/soil) from their dig.  Then after some head scratching about exactly where the tank is and making sure where the gas line is they start digging.  Before I even knew it they had moved my landscaping obstacles.  No fooling around with these guys.  And the digging continued…

oil tank removal, environmental cleanup, garden

Fast forward.  The guys dug like banshees but even they had to submit to the rocky hard pack and get a pneumatic shovel.  They set up a super slick scaffold with a come-along winch (yes Kelly, I’m learning the difference).

Edit: note from Kelly: Matt used to get the words “winch” and “wench” confused, which was pretty entertaining.  Good job, hubby.

oil tank removal, lifting, garden

Fortunately our tank was pretty much empty but clearly they’ve lifted some heavier ones because that beam is seriously and permanently bent.

oil tank removal, garden, pile of dirt

Uh oh.  Plenty of leakage (the black on the underside).  Thank God, wait, and the EPA and WA State Department of Ecology for having a Pollution Liability Insurance program.  We’re on the hook for the removal but that pales in comparison to the cleanup cost and because we were having the tank removed within 30 days of converting to an alternative fuel, the insurance will basically cover the cleanup.

oil tank removal

A different view of the corroded and leaky tank.  It’s not leaky like oil was pouring out but definitely with the pressure of a full tank I can imagine the rates of leakage are non-trivial.

oil tank removal

6 foot man in a 6 foot hole.  Fortunately no bones were found.  Not like we have put much in the way of bones in the yard but ya never know.  Our backyard is a trip because glass practically grows in the soil back there. 

oil tank removal

After they were done removing the tank all the fun paperwork begins.  Fortunately that’s been pretty easy.  They covered the excavation and fenced around it.  I reminded them to cover the dirt pile (which will have to be disposed of—again, it’s not like there’s an oil slick coming out of it but there has definitely been a not-so-sweet aroma of oil in my front yard since the removal).

oil tank removal

Did the guys do a good job?  As far as I can tell.  I did add more plastic because a sheet of old broken plywood was definitely not going to keep water out of the pit.  I just hope they finish the job before we get a lot of rain and matters get complicated.  I did have to terminate my tomatillos early but they were more of an experiment so not too big of a loss.  Fortunately I think all of my plantings that had to be moved are going to survive their untimely uprooting (late summer is not a great time to be moving heat and water stressed plants).

—Matt