Practical Environmental Solutions, P.C.Practical Environmental Solutions, P.C.
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Property Sales and Tanks

An underground oil tank is not required to be removed before selling a property.  It is an issue that is negotiated between the buyer and seller.  The North Carolina's Underground Storage Tank Section is not going to prevent or postpone a property transaction even where contamination is known.  However, a proper tank removal and contamination assessment before a property transaction has many benefits for both the buyer and the seller. 

It would be best for all parties, if the tank removal and all of the required contamination assessment and cleanup work described on the Project Schedule Page could be completed before the property changed owners.  However, this can take approximately 4 to 12 months to complete.  Most buyers and sellers aren't willing to wait this long. 

Having the oil tank and contamination issue completely resolved (and the incident officially closed) before attempting to sell a property can be very beneficial in helping to achieve a quick and successful property sale.  

If the tank is still in the ground at the time that the property is being sold, the tank can be removed and contaminated soil verified and reported to the State before the property closing occurs.  (Also see our Fast track Assessment option - Buyers Page.)

This limits the buyer's liability because it establishes the seller as the person responsible for the required contamination cleanup and other compliance requirements.  Additionally the buyer does not take possession of the tank because it has been removed. 

Any additional work that is required by the State will remain the responsibility of the "seller."  Taking these actions before a property closing, may help to prevent the "buyer" from being named in any potential third party lawsuits. 

If a Fast Track Assessment is conducted (Buyers Page), the buyer can know the level of soil and groundwater contamination before they purchase the property.  You wouldn't wait to do a house inspection until after you buy the house.  Why would you wait to determine the level of soil and ground water contamination until after you bought the house?  (A Fast Track Assessment may include additional costs that are not reimbursed by the Trust Fund.)

Remember, 88% of underground oil tanks have leaked and 12% of underground oil tanks have leaked so significantly that fuel is measured floating on top of the water table.  Please see our Incident Closure Scenarios Page. 

The tank status and contamination level may greatly affect the value of the property.  Please see our Property Value, Tanks, and  Contamination Page.

Sellers can end their legal liability for the tank and contamination and have the Trust Fund assist paying for it.  Trust Fund coverage is better now than it is likely to be later. 

PES will do everything we can to meet your scheduling needs.  We do need a minimum of one week to plan, schedule, and remove your underground oil tank. 

Complete Cleanup ("clean bill of health") vs. State Compliance

At most sites, providing adequate protection for the house foundation does not allow PES to excavate all of the soil that is contaminated above the State's standard.  PES does not guarantee complete and total "cleanup" of a site.  We will conduct all the necessary tasks to bring the site into compliance with the State's requirements.  Most incident sites will probably be closed by the State with a Notice of Residual Petroleum (See below). 

Notice of Residual Petroleum:

Timing of a property sale relative to the tank removal

The tank owner is required to complete a Notice of Residual Petroleum (NRP) when selling a property with a known underground storage tank release.  If conducted because of a property transfer, the NRP will not be reimbursed by the Trust Fund (TF) (approximately $1000).  The State will notify you of this requirement approximately 6 to 10 weeks after the tank release is discovered. 

The State may require a NRP at the end of the project to allow incident closure.  If conducted for incident closure, the NRP and associated scope of work will be reimbursed by the Trust Fund. 

Generally, the State is not aware of the timing of property transactions for incident site properties. 

Description of the Notice of Residual Petroleum (NRP):

The NRP is a document recorded at the Register of Deeds office to notify future property buyers that contaminated soil and/or contaminated groundwater above the State's standard remains on the property.  If groundwater is contaminated, the State may restrict the use of groundwater on the property so that no irrigation wells may be installed or used on the property.  Existing irrigation wells will have to be properly abandoned to allow official incident closure. 

Tank Owner (responsible for the tank and contamination) :

For a tank used on or after 11-8-1984, it is any and all property owners. 
For a tank not used on or after 11-8-1984, it is the last person to use the tank. 

If an estate is applying to the Trust Fund (usually to obtain a lesser deductible), that estate must remain open until the final claim check is received (see Project Schedule, Month 13).  Failure to keep an estate open may require it to be re-opened to receive the final Trust Fund claim check.  This may result in additional costs to the estate's heirs.

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