Heating oil presents an immediate environmental and hazardous threat to communities that require its use. The oil is stored in underground storage tanks (USTs) to minimize its environmental impact. While this storage method solves one problem, it also creates another. Over time, storage tanks corrode in the ground, increasing the risk of an oil leak, which can contaminate the nearby water, soil and cause harm to healthy plants.
If you have a UST on your property, now is the time to schedule a tank search/locate and soil testing. Alpha Environmental offers comprehensive storage tank and soil testing in Portland, OR. Using advanced technology and proven methods, we can evaluate the current condition of your storage tank and identify any oil contamination in the soil.
Why You Need Your Soil Sampled & Tested
As an oil tank ages, it shows signs of corrosion. Eventually, the corrosion eats through the tank, allowing heating oil to leak. As the oil leaks, it contaminates the soil and water in its path. A tank search and sample provide an accurate assessment of the tank’s location, condition, and level of contamination in the soil.
You may need a tank to locate and sample in the following situations:
- Selling or buying a home with a heating oil tank on the property
- Updating homeowner Insurance coverage
- Discovering a UST for the first time
- Converting from an underground tank to an above-ground tank
- Increasing your home heating oil consumption
- Applying for a home mortgage
Although every UST in the United States should have documentation, some tanks can go years without an assessment. If you discover a tank on your property, Alpha Environmental can research the history of the tank and perform a complete assessment to determine what you need to do next.
Symptoms of a Leaking Oil Tank
Oil tank leaks slowly develop over time. As a result, the signs of a leak are not always evident. A single tank could contaminate the soil and water in surrounding areas for several years before you realize there is a problem. Therefore, it is important to identify the symptoms of a leaking oil tank. Some of the most common signs of a leak include:
- Oil sheen in the water
- A strong and constant oil smell
- Dead plants in the vicinity
- Dark brown spots on the ground
- More frequent requirement to refill the heating oil tank
How We Assess Leaking USTs
Alpha Environmental follows a thorough, step-by-step process when locating and assessing your tank. However, each scenario is different and dictates precisely how we perform tank testing on your property. Below, we break down our procedure.
A tank that has been buried on your property for decades can be difficult to find. We use several methods to identify connecting pipes or related equipment. Our technicians also use specialized equipment to identify the size, shape, and depth of the tank. There may or may not be signs of oil or penetrations in the yard, so it is important to have certified personnel perform these assessments.
2. Soil Sampling
One of the best ways to identify a leak is to retrieve a soil sample around the tank. We may need to take samples inside the tank if there are signs of leaks or corrosion. Soil samples can help us locate the leak, the path of the oil, the type of oil in the ground, and how long the oil has been leaking.
Our certified heating oil tank supervisors perform clean decommissions, full decommissions, and risk assessments on a daily basis, depending on the assessment outcome. We ensure the site meets the requirements set by the EPA and DEQ, along with submitting the proper permitting and paperwork required prior to closure.
If soil testing reveals the presence of contamination, then soil and groundwater remediation may be necessary to resolve the issue. Various methods are available for cleaning up contaminated groundwater including thermal remediation, encapsulation, air sparging, and bioremediation. Which method is used depends on the type of contamination.
Schedule Soil Testing and Sampling Today
If you discover an oil leak on your property, you need to act quickly before the leak spreads further into the soil and water. Contact Alpha Environmental for a soil sample and test today.