“Ask the MPCA” features questions the agency has received on topics we work on, from waste disposal, water and air quality, and chemicals in products to recycling and reuse, contaminated sites, and septic systems. If you have a question for MPCA staff, submit it via our website.
I discovered an old underground heating-oil tank buried near my home. The tank was installed when the house was first built in 1969, but we now power our furnace with natural gas. The tank is empty, but I’m wondering what needs to be done to get the tank properly removed.
The MPCA regulates aboveground and underground storage tanks in the state. We make sure that tanks at service stations, industrial facilities, utility companies, and the like conform to state standards, and respond when a tank leaks and releases harmful contaminants, like chemicals or petroleum.
Many homes and businesses in Minnesota have small, underground tanks that contain or were once used to store heating oil. These types of smaller tanks are not regulated by the MPCA. Some have been in the ground for a long time and have little in the way of rust or corrosion protection. Such tanks can pose problems for homeowners. If an old tank is rusting, it may leak fuel oil into the soil or even collapse and create a hole on your property. In addition, banks or potential buyers may want them removed prior to the property being sold. Minnesota’s fire code requires that storage tanks that have been unused for more than a year be removed or properly closed in place before a property can be sold or transferred. The state fire code governs how underground storage tanks should be emptied and removed or closed.