Tank Talk Episode 007 – My Tank Leaked! Now What?

In the episode, Teddy talks with a client about what the next steps are since their oil tank failed the township inspection. Simple Tank grabbed a soil sample when the tank was removed and the results were 35,000 PPM. This is way above the cleanup standards of 5,100 PPM. We gave them some options with open ended contracts and also a fixed price cleanup contract.

Questions answered in this episode…

  1. What line items are variable in the open ended soil remediation contract? 1:15
  2. Can you give me a price from the one sample you took on the day you removed the tank? 3:45
  3. How far do you think the contamination traveled? 5:10
  4. How much should a groundwater investigation cost? 6:10
  5. If the initial groundwater samples fails, will we be charged every time you return to sample? 7:25
  6. What is the worst case scenario cost for the cleanup? 8:30
  7. How does a soil delineation work to get a fixed cost? 9:50
  8. Does the state certified subsurface evaluator work for you? 11:00
  9. Does the township have to do another inspection? 12:05
  10. How quickly can you get the final report that needs to be reviewed by NJDEP? 13:25
  11. Can we pay at closing? 14:00
  12. Is there an additional fee to pay at closing? 15:00
  13. What are the odds of hitting groundwater in Metuchen? 17:20
23 February, 2024

Tank Talk Episode 008 – Should I Remove My Tank Now or Later?

In this episode, Teddy talks with a potential client about the best of plan of action for removing their underground oil tank. They are not selling but are concerned that it could start leaking one day. Teddy explains why they shouldn’t wait and what the project consists of.

Questions answered in this episode…

  1. How much is it to remove an underground 550 gallon oil tank that is easily accessible? 1:40
  2. I’m not selling, should I remove the tank now or wait? 2:30
  3. How quickly can you schedule the project once I sign on? 3:20
  4. Does the NJDEP get involved? 4:00
  5. How do you close out a case # with NJDEP? 4:20

 

Speaker 2:

Just wanted a ballpark figure on a tank removal.

Teddy:

Sure. Yeah, I can help you with that. Where’s the tank located on the property?

Speaker 2:

Between the house and the driveway.

Teddy:

Between the house and the driveway. Okay. Is it a 550 gallon tank?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s 550,

Teddy:

Is it actively being used or was there-

Speaker 2:

No, it’s been deactivated for a couple of years now.

Teddy:

Okay. Was it filled in place with sand anything like that or foam?

Speaker 2:

No. It’s got about 50 gallons of residual oil.

Teddy:

Okay, perfect. That’s better. Sometimes the ones with the previously filled sand can be more expensive to remove, because it’s not cleaned out properly, so that’s good. So yeah, I’m looking at the property. Yeah, I see it. Okay. So it looks like there’s a tree when you first pull in the driveway to the left?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. The tank is to the left of the driveway.

Teddy:

To the left of the driveway, okay. Yeah. That’s easily accessible. Yeah, so something like that, pretty basic, typically how it works is we go to the town of Highland Park. We get the permits for you. Once they’re approved, we come out. We dig down to the top of the tank, cut it open, take all the oil out, wipe it down completely, and then we pull it. Once it’s out, we’ll have the town come do their visual inspection. This all’s going to happen in the same day. As long as their visual inspection passes, there’s no sampling required. We’ll be able to backfill the hole and take the tank away. And you’ll get a certificate from the township once we submit to them the disposal documents for the tank and the oil. So something like that, you’re looking at 1400 bucks. The only additional costs would be the permits. I think there’s $75 in Highland Park. And if there’s any water in the tank, we charge a dollar a gallon to dispose of water.

Speaker 2:

Sounds pretty good to me actually. Yeah, I’ve been sitting on a tank for 20 years. We used it for 20 out of the 25 years. And then a couple years ago, but just got paranoid, had them put in a tank in the house and disconnected that one.

Teddy:

So yeah, you have any plans of selling in the near future or?

Speaker 2:

No, but I’m afraid someday it’s just going to rot through and leak. I’m uphill from the river. The oil will float downhill and I’ll be responsible for everybody from here to New Brunswick.

Teddy:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, I mean, here’s the thing. So you definitely want to remove it. And the reason is because yeah, it will eventually leak. All these tanks, they’re steel; they’re going to corrode. So if it’s not leaking today, it could start in a year or two years. They will leak. And the best part about it is if you pull it today, let’s say worst case scenario, there is a leak, a lot of people think that that starts the ball rolling. They fear that if they pull it, then they’re going to open up a can of worms and they have to clean it up.

Teddy:

With residential sites, since you’re not selling right now, you can pull that out. And that’s when my recommendation would be. And if you don’t have the funds to go forward, you can wait until you have the funds. Nobody’s going to come after you to make you do the cleanup. The only thing is if you want to sell the property, then you have to do the cleanup. But other than that it’s good because you’re getting the source out, so it can’t get worse. So that’s definitely recommended to pull it.

Speaker 2:

When would be the earliest we could schedule something like this?

Teddy:

So I could email you out a proposal today. When you sign on, everything is electronic. You just click approve, type your name in. We’ll send you the link for the deposit and then we overnight the permit application to Highland Park. They typically take about two weeks to approve it. They are still open, Highland Park. Some of the towns have slowed down because of COVID, but Highland Park is still actively open from last time we checked. So I would figure two to three weeks.

Speaker 2:

Not bad. Well does the state have to approve it? You told me I’d get stuff from the municipality, but does the state have to approve anything? Give me any kind of certification that the tanks removed?

Teddy:

So as long as the township visual inspection passes and there’s no holes in the tank, there’s no visible signs of a discharge, the DEP won’t get involved. If it fails inspection, then you’re going to get what’s called a case number. That’s from the state. Once you have a case number from the state, there’s two ways to close it out. Either one, you sample the excavation to prove to them that yes, there’s been a discharge, but it’s below the cleanup standards. We don’t have to go any further. Or B, we have to remediate, which means we have to take out that soil that’s dirty, sample to make sure we got it all out and then replace it. So those are the two ways to close the case number out. And that’s the only time you’ll get involved with a DEP. So if the first inspection passes, you’re good to go.

Speaker 2:

Okay. Thank you.

Teddy:

All right. You’re welcome.

Speaker 2:

Bye-bye.

Teddy:

Bye-bye.

23 February, 2024

Tank Talk Episode 009 – I am buying a house with a previously filled oil tank, how can I protect myself?

In this episode, Teddy talk with a prospective client who is an investor buying a property with a previously filled oil tank that was properly permitted. Teddy explains that the soil around this tank still MUST be investigated since it was not required before it was filled in place.

  1. The house I am buying has a previously filled oil tank that has all the proper permits, does that mean the soil is clean around the tank.
    45 seconds
  2. How can you tell with 100% certainty that the oil tank has contamination? 2:20
  3. How much does it cost for the soil investigation around an existing underground oil tank? 3:20
  4. How long does it take to get on the schedule for a soil investigation? 4:45
  5. How long does it take to get the results from the soil investigation? 6:15
  6. When is the guarantee offered with the soil test? 8:00
  7. How much does it typically cost to remove a 550 gallon UST? 8:45
  8. How much is the soil sample guarantee? 9:05
  9. How can you figure out an exact price for the cleanup by sending one sample to the lab? 9:55
  10. Can you explain the entire soil investigation process again? 10:40
  11. We you stand behind your fixed price remediation contract? 13:30

Speaker 1:
Welcome to Tank Talk with Teddy, a podcast talking all things related to residential oil tanks. You have questions? Teddy has answers.

Teddy:
[inaudible 00:00:18] this is Teddy.

Jennifer:
Hi Teddy. My name is Jennifer [inaudible 00:00:20].

Teddy:
Oh yes, how are you doing?

Jennifer:
Good, thank you. So my husband and I have an accepted offer on a HUD home that has a properly permitted, decommissioned oil tank. And I naively thought that if it was permitted and it was decommissioned, that would mean that everything was fine. And that’s not what I understand to be the case. And I was wondering if there was any way to mitigate the risk through testing or something. We’re interested in the place, probably everything’s fine, but I understand that doesn’t mean certainly everything is fine.

Teddy:
Correct. No, you’re 100% correct. And you are absolutely taking the right precautions, because most people believe what you believe, that if it had proper permits, that everything is good. It’s the absolute, complete opposite of that. We actually find that a lot of these tanks that have permit, and were filled properly, inspected, a lot of those tanks, majority of them were actually leaking before they were filled in place. And it wasn’t detected because it wasn’t required to test the soil, so is a visual inspection which you can’t tell if the tank was leaking at the time and they just fill them in place. So we have a product or service that is set up exactly for this, where we come in and we probe around the tank. And we can tell you with 100% certainty if there is a problem. And if there is a problem, we’ll tell you to the exact penny on how much it would cost to cleanup. If it’s clean-

Jennifer:
Wow, you’re exactly the person I was looking for.

Teddy:
Yes. These are services are set up for… 90% of our clients are real estate related transactions, so we have very unique services that are set up for exactly what you’re trying to do. And we actually have a product where I could test it and if I tell you it’s clean, we back it up with 100% guarantee. As long as you pull that tank within six months by us, if there’s any contamination that we missed, we’re going to clean it up and no additional costs.

Jennifer:
Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this.

Teddy:
How does that sound?

Jennifer:
I called so many people and everyone’s like, “Oh, there’s no way to know.” So how do you know? Help me understand. I don’t…

Teddy:
So here’s the trick.

Jennifer:
And tell me what it cost because that’s very important.

Teddy:
Yes, absolutely.

Jennifer:
So go ahead.

Teddy:
So I’ll go through it. So yes, if you call 10 companies, nine of them are going to tell you it’s impossible, we’re the only company in the state New Jersey. We actually come out and we bore around your tank with what’s called a Geoprobe. It’s a tract rig machine, about $115,000 piece of equipment. The other guys that do your testing, they come out with hand boring equipment, and they send the guy out there that’s 10, $12 an hour. He’s not going to get to the proper depth, he’s going to get you a false reading, all these things. That’s why they don’t back it up with a guarantee. When we do our testing, we’re using a very high powered piece of equipment. And our tech is going to be able to get to the proper depth because that equipment is capable of going down to 30 feet if needed. I only need to go down to seven or eight, so I know I’m getting to the proper depth. So if there’s a major, major problem out there, I’m going to find it.

Teddy:
The only thing I could miss is I could miss a leak under the tank, but it’s going to be very minor because I know I sampled at the proper depth. And that’s why we offer a guarantee. It is an optional guarantee, there is a fee for it. So the way that it works is the initial investigation is $600. So for 600, I’m going to come out there-

Jennifer:
That’s a bargain, my God that’s such a bargain.

Teddy:
Yes. It is a good price. It’s very comparable to a regular soil test as a run 500, 600 bucks, and these guys are doing it by hand, and they’re not giving you all the information I’m going to give you. So we start at 600 initially. So worst case scenario, if I come out there next week for 600 bucks and I find a mess, and I come back to you and say, “You know what? You have a complete mess out here, it’s going to be 15,000, 20,000 to cleanup.” You could walk away, you’re only out of pocket the $600. If I find that it’s clean, you then go and buy the house, you close on it in 60 days, whatever. After the closing, then you would pay me a deposit for the tank removal, which is typically about $1,500. And then we charge, if you want that guarantee, it’s an additional 1400 bucks on top of the removal clause. And then you’re 100% covered for any liability.

Jennifer:
Okay.

Teddy:
So all in it’s about 3,500 bucks, if it’s clean.

Jennifer:
When are you available to bore around the tank?

Teddy:
If you sign on today, I could email you a proposal right now, it’s all electronic. I could have a guy out there, we have to call for utility mark-outs. What town is it in?

Jennifer:
Blairstown.

Teddy:
In Blairstown. So we’d probably be looking at Tuesday, the 26th.

Jennifer:
Today?

Teddy:
Today is Tuesday the 19th. So that’d be next week.

Jennifer:
Oh, so like a week.

Teddy:
Yeah, one week from today.

Jennifer:
So you come out with a high powered piece of equipment for $600 and you bore around everywhere, so you’re taking basically lots of soil.

Teddy:
Why our equipment is the proper way to do it is because it’s really the… It’s not amount of soil, it’s the depth of where you’re taking your sample. So for example, if a guy goes out there with hand boring equipment and he gets stuck around four or five feet because he hits a rock, and he can’t hand bore through it because he doesn’t have the power, he’s going to take a sample at four or five feet, give you the test results. Those test results 99% of the time are going to be clean because the proper depths where the oil is going to be leaking is around seven or eight feet, that’s where the bottom of the tank is.

Teddy:
So I know with my equipment, my guys just have to pull a lever. And like I said, it could go to 30 feet if it wants to, so I know I’m getting to the proper depth. And that’s why we are able to give you guarantee on it because I know I’m going to get to the proper depth. Worst case if I miss something, it’s going to be very minor and we’re willing to clean that up at no additional cost if you take the guarantee.

Jennifer:
And the name of your company, I wrote it down so sloppily when Sue gave me the thing, is what?

Teddy:
It’s Simple Tank Services. If you go on our website, which is simpletankservices.com, there’s a ton of video content on there. And you’ll be able to see what that machine looks like, and how the process works, as far as the borings go and everything, and you’ll be able to watch a short YouTube video on it. But we can do it typically within four business days and I’ll have verbal results for you that day, I’ll be able to tell you what’s going on. And then the lab results take five business days.

Jennifer:
All right, I’m sorry. What’s the four business days?

Teddy:
Four businesses is like if you sign today, I have to call for mark-outs, takes three days. So typically on the fourth day when you sign-on is when I could get you scheduled in.

Jennifer:
Okay. But if I sign on right now, can you get me scheduled for next Tuesday?

Teddy:
Yes. If you sign today, I’m going to email you right now. I’ll take some your info, I’ll email you out the contract, you just click approve on it. I’ll send you a link for deposit, I’ll set up your file, and put you on the schedule for Tuesday.

Jennifer:
Okay. Forgive me, I’m a little distracted. So it’s $600, you’re boring around, you’re taking lots of samples. And then how does it go from there? You’ll tell me that day, “This place is a disaster, you don’t want to buy it.” Or, “I think it’s pretty good.” That day?

Teddy:
Right.

Jennifer:
Now, is it you, or is it your guys?

Teddy:
No, I’ll have somebody out there. It would probably be one of my two project managers will be doing the borings.

Jennifer:
Okay. So I pay a deposit, I pay the [inaudible 00:07:53] 26. So you bore around it’s $600, you tell me that day is good or bad, and then what happens from there?

Teddy:
So I take one sample, I send it to the lab. The lab will pick up on that Wednesday and it’ll take about five business days. So the following week I’ll have you those lab results, which they just gives me confirmation. So if the soil is clean, we want to see the lab results come back non-detect which means there’s no detection of oil. And then that’s when we offer you the guarantee, which you decide on when you want… You don’t have to pay for anything until you close on the property as far as the guarantee goes in the tank removal. So you pay the only thing your pocket is $600, 300 today, 300 next week when we do the job, that’s it.

Teddy:
And then once the deal closes, if everything’s clean and you closing the deal, then you call us up, we send you a contract for the tank removal itself and then also the guarantee that would be included in there. And then you’re 100% covered, you have no risk at all. If we messed up and we didn’t find contamination and we completely missed it, we’re cleaning it up at no additional fees on top of the guarantee cost and the removal costs.

Jennifer:
All right. So the removal is how much?

Teddy:
Without looking at the job, typically, it’s about 1500 bucks to remove a tank if it’s easily accessible. And-

Jennifer:
And the guarantee… And you have to decide obviously before you remove it if you’re taking the guarantee or not.

Teddy:
Exactly, yeah. As long as you just tell us, the day before we pull it, and, “Hey, I want that guarantee.” And you pay for it with a credit card, you’re covered.

Jennifer:
And the guarantee is another 1400?

Teddy:
1400, correct.

Jennifer:
All right. So basically, you have a higher tech way to gather the things. But next Tuesday, your guys will be able to tell me like, “Yeah, you should go for this place or not?”

Teddy:
Yes.

Jennifer:
You’ll know if it’s a mess?

Teddy:
Exactly. I’ll be able to tell you with a pretty good confidence level what it looks like. And if it’s a mess I’ll be able to really tell you, “Hey, listen, this thing is a mess.” I’ll be able to tell you 100%. Yeah, next week you’ll have a verbal answer of what’s happening out there. And won’t be able to put an exact dollar figure on it until I get those lab results, typically. But I’ll be able to tell you, “Hey, this is pretty nasty, it’s leaking all over the place. It’s 10 feet deep. It’s five feet in this direction.” We’re going to figure all that out.

Jennifer:
And you’re able to do that only sending one sample to the lab?

Teddy:
That’s a great question. But the lab result really is a minor point of the equation, it doesn’t tell us that much. The main data that we need is how deep the contamination is, how far did it travel in each direction? And how deep did it go? That-

Jennifer:
And you can basically tell that by looking at the soil that you bring up?

Teddy:
Exactly. When I drill a probe down, it’s a two inch piece of pipe and I’m basically hammering that into the ground, let’s say eight feet. I pull it up, I have a eight foot sleeve of soil. I open it up and I can see all right at three feet, that’s where the contamination starts, it stops at seven and a half feet. And it tells me all that stuff.

Jennifer:
So I hire you, you come out at $600… I’m sorry, I just want to fully understand the process because it’s all new to me. Your guys bore around with these big expensive machines, and that day you’ll be able to tell me this place is a mess or not, so I’ll know whether or not to go forward?

Teddy:
Correct, exactly. Yeah.

Jennifer:
Okay. And then from there… So obviously you’re not going to… Oh, because you only offer a guarantee if you feel it’s not a mess. You’ll be able to tell me this place is clean and you’ll be so confident. So next Tuesday when I speak to your guys, you’re either going to say, “Buy this place, it’s clean. And I’m willing to remove the tank for $1,500 plus another $1,400 to guarantee my work.” Or you’re going to say to me, “This place is no good, don’t buy it?”

Teddy:
Well, yes, sort of. And the reason why I say sort of is because if the soil is clean, I’ll be able to tell you, “Hey, everything looks clean, appears clean, but we will need confirmation before I offer the guarantee.” Because the reason is it may be such a small traces of contamination that we may not pick it up visually or with our meters on site, we may have to wait for the lab to come back and tell us, “Hey, here’s your results. It’s a super low reading.” At that point then we don’t offer the guarantee. But I will be able to tell you confident, “Hey, this is a very minor issue here, you’re not going to have any major problems.” You know what I mean? I’ll be able to tell you that for sure. But the confirmation of that lab result really needs to say non-detect for me to offer the guarantee. That’s how it works.

Jennifer:
I see. So if I schedule you, and you’re not available any sooner than a week from now?

Teddy:
The problem is unless I could get one of my guys to come in on Saturday, which is possible, I could talk to them. But I might be able to do it Saturday because I have to call for utility mark-out, that takes three business days to clear. It’s already Tuesday, so Wednesday, Thursday, Friday is no good. So Saturday would be the first day, Monday is a holiday and then Tuesday, so either Saturday or Tuesday.

Jennifer:
Monday is a… Oh my God, it’s Memorial Day already? Wow.

Teddy:
Yeah.

Jennifer:
Okay.

Teddy:
[inaudible 00:13:08].

Jennifer:
So basically you wouldn’t be in a… But that would be before we close. So if it’s $600, I pay $600 and you’re like, “Oh, this place.”

Teddy:
Correct.

Jennifer:
Then I lose my 1,000 and 600. Well, I could probably get the 1,000 back if the place is a mess. And then when the lab results, the only way you offer it… So when the lab results come back, you will be able to price the cleanup at that point?

Teddy:
Yeah, exactly. Once the lab results come back, I’ll be able to put an… Either tell you, “Hey, you have a guarantee.” Or, “Here is cost for the fixed price remediation.”
Jennifer:
Okay. And you’ll be able to stand behind that cost? It’s not like you’ll say, “Oh, the cost is 5,000, [crosstalk 00:13:55] 25,000.”

Teddy:
No. That’s what’s very unique about our company and our services. Once I give you a number, it’s literally to the penny. It’s going to say, let’s say $9,765.32, it doesn’t change. That’s the quote, and if we completely mess up our investigation and I misquote you, and I come out there and I find a major mess, I’m going to do it, and you’re going to get a no further action letter. And your invoice is still going to be that 9,700 or whatever the quote is, that’s how it works.

Jennifer:
Okay, all right. Well, send me your stuff I can’t wait to hire you. And I’ll give you the deposit so you can plan for me and put me in for next Tuesday.

Jennifer:
(silence)

Teddy:
Okay. I’m going to email this to you, you’ll have it literally in a few minutes here. If you don’t get it in five minutes, just call me back it means I have your email wrong. But I’m going to send this out right now. If you have any questions, otherwise just click approve, type in your name as the signature. And then once that happens, I’m going to send you a link for the deposit and I’ll put you on the schedule.

Jennifer:
Awesome. I’m not home now, so give me a couple of minutes to get home and I’ll take care of it.

Teddy:
No worries, take your time.

Jennifer:
Thank you.

Teddy:
All right, bye-bye.

Jennifer:
Bye-bye.

23 February, 2024

Tank Talk Episode 010 – My oil tank is under my driveway! What are the steps to remove it?

In this episode, Teddy talks with a prospective client about the oil tank buried under their driveway! The client had some really nice things to say about Simple Tanks online reputation and not so nice things about some of the other contractors out there. Teddy will explain the step by step process to remove an underground oil tank that is located under the driveway!

  1. What damage will there be to my front lawn since the tank is located in the driveway
  2. What is the process to get the tank removed from the ground?
  3. Once permits are approved how long does the job take to get done?
  4. What is the process once the tank is out?
  5. Will I be able to communicate with the employees that are sent to our house.
  6. Will you come to my house to look before the work is started?
23 February, 2024

Tank Talk Episode 011 – Homeowner Not Happy with Lowest Price Contractor!

In this episode, Teddy talks with a homeowner that we sent a quote to remove her underground tank and install a new above ground tank. She decided to hire another contractor because he was cheaper. Once the tank was out of the ground, the contractor found a few pin holes and tried to pressure her to sign on for a soil remediation right away! He did not take any samples of the soil to determine the contamination levels to properly advise her. Please do your homework and don’t hire the cheapest contractor to remove your oil tank. The process that the contractor follows once the tank is out is more important and if not followed properly can cost you thousands of dollars in the end.

 

Transcript

 

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Tank Talk with Teddy. A podcast talking all things related to residential oil tanks. You have questions. Teddy has answered.

Teddy:

Hey guys. So I don’t typically hop on before the podcast starts, but I really felt the need to just get on real quick and explain this situation. So this client, had us quote them to remove their underground tank and install a new tank. They’re out in Phillipsburg area. So we gave them a very competitive price, we thought, and they did some price shopping. And they got somebody who was cheaper, that was more local to their house. And they were able to save a couple of hundred bucks on the project. So we didn’t hear from them after the project. Well we get a call and that contractor pulled the tank, and now there is a problem. They have holes in the tank, and there’s some contamination there. And the contractor did not follow the proper procedure. Did not take a sample of the soil.

Teddy:

That’s number one. Okay. And then he’s trying to force a remediation on them right away. That’s a tactic that they like to do. They like to pressure you to do that remediation right away, because they want to get that money out of your pocket and get that job done, and collect the balance. Okay? The proper procedure is to sample the excavation, determine the level of the contamination, and then give the client some options. That is not the process that was followed. So she called us, we are going to now give her a quote to go down to her property and perform what’s called a fixed price investigation. So we will probe around her tank. I mean, around the area where the tank was located, this way, we can get an idea of what the level of contamination is.

Teddy:

And then we’re going to provide her with a couple options to close out her case number. That is the proper procedure. We could’ve skipped this step, which is a $600 step, if the contractor pulled the sample the day he removed the tank. We would have had an idea of the levels of contamination. And then we would have been able to just explain to her over the phone, what her options are. But because he didn’t follow that procedure, she’s looking now at additional $600 to investigate it. And then we’re going to go back to her with some options on how to close out her case number. So listen up, and hope you get some value out of this call.

Speaker 3:

Hi, good afternoon. This is [inaudible 00:02:39]. I have used your services in past, and I wanted to inquire about a property that we took out a thousand gallon tank today. The guy said since there was a hole in the tank, right? They put it as a contamination.

Teddy:

Okay. Where is the house located? What county is the house located in?

Speaker 3:

How would I know? What are my next steps? Because I was not very happy and excited with the company who took out the tank. I felt like they’re over selling me.

Teddy:

Yes. Yeah unfortunately, a lot of that happens in this industry. It’s really unfortunate. If I had to take a guess, I’d say you’re out by Philipsburg, right?

Speaker 3:

Yes. [inaudible 00:03:22] literally by Philipsburg. In fact, you can call it as Philipsburg.

Teddy:

Yes. Yes. So did you use the local guy over there, ADS?

Speaker 3:

Yes.

Teddy:

Yeah. Did they take any samples when they removed the tank yesterday or today?

Speaker 3:

No. They removed it today and no, they did not. I mean, the weird thing was they just called up immediately saying that are two holes in the tank. Tiny, teeny, tiny holes. Okay? And then the inspector didn’t even look at the holes or anything. They just said, this is the DEP ID.

Teddy:

Wow, yep. Yep. This is exactly what a lot of these guys do. It’s really a shame. They really should have taken a sample. So did they explain to you that you’re allowed to keep contamination in the ground up to a certain level?

Speaker 3:

No, no, no. That’s the problem. See again I am a person who goes by rule book, right? You can’t bullshit me. But he says, oh this looks ugly. This looks bad. Come on, dude. There has to be some kind of a process in place. This is US. This is not like third world country where you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Teddy:

Yes, yes, exactly.

Speaker 3:

And I’m very upset, okay? I’m sorry. I’m like, I need to call up… I wish I had gone with you guys, but see the budget was a thousand dollars difference between your estimate and the guy’s estimate. And I don’t have any complaints on taking the tank out. It’s more of like, after the tank. And they said, “We can start tomorrow.” I’m like, Nope. Literally you should of looked at his face. The way I said, “Nope, you cannot start tomorrow.”

Teddy:

No, that’s the thing. They try to pressure you. It’s a pressure move. You know what I mean? They try to get you to do it right away, right away. You got to be careful. And then let me ask you this. Are you selling the property or anything? And what was the reason for removing the tank?

Speaker 3:

[inaudible 00:05:21] I got the property, I’m redoing it because my sister wants to move in. Okay? Unfortunately my next door neighbor is a police cop, and we had [inaudible 00:05:32] three bushes down to get it out, my oil tank. Somehow the oil tank is on a very tight spot between the two houses. So he wants to make sure. And I obviously, I don’t want an oil tank on my property, underground oil tank, no way.

Teddy:

Wow. Yeah, no, absolutely. You did the right thing. Absolutely. Yeah. I see that in our file. I guess we did send you a proposal. So for a removal and an install, and then also one for removal. So were we that much more expensive than those guys?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. You were a thousand dollars more expensive.

Teddy:

A thousand. Wow. So then they did a what? A removal and an install for $2,500 bucks?

Speaker 3:

Yes, yes.

Teddy:

Wow. See, this is the problem in this industry, they-

Speaker 3:

I had to pay-

Teddy:

Go ahead.

Speaker 3:

I had to pay a little more extra because it turned out to be 1,000 gallons, right? Instead of 500 gallons.

Teddy:

Okay. So I mean, see, this is the thing. They try to give a very low price and they want to be able to just get that tank out. And then the first thing they do is report you to the state. When a lot of times it’s not even required to report you to the state, because you can have a hundred holes in your tank. I don’t care if there’s no contamination, I’m not reporting you to the state, but that’s not how everybody works.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, no. He said smell the soil, it smells bad. So you definitely had a leak.

Teddy:

Did you smell it, that it had an odor?

Speaker 3:

Very slight odor. It wasn’t like, oh my God, I have to close my nostril. I mean, honestly see it was raining and it was pine tree freshly cut. I don’t even know whether it was petrochemicals, but it was weird. So, and I don’t know it’s the place for it, right? You’re talking to wrong person.

Teddy:

Yeah. Yeah. And he didn’t tell you that he’s taking a sample or any of that stuff, right?

Speaker 3:

No, no, no.

Teddy:

So the process he should have followed and here’s how it works. This is the way it’s supposed to be done. He should have taken one sample from the bottom of the excavation where the tank was. He runs that to the lab. He gets results within three to four business days. Then he should come back to you and tell you, okay, here’s the level of contamination. Because depending on what the level of the contamination is, then you have options. He’s not giving you any options. He’s trying to pressure you to do it right away. That’s not good businessmen.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. That’s, see he lost my business, because obviously I went to him right? You guys, and now I’m calling you back. That should tell you. My problem is, first of all, honestly, listen, I don’t know whether I have a problem or not. So it’s kind of like, no I definitely have a problem because he reported it to DEP, and the case is there, but there is a problem. Now I don’t know how to address that because I have zero clue. Google is not helping me out. And I’m like at dead ends. And I don’t want to go back to that guy no matter what.

Teddy:

Yeah. I mean, we could definitely help you out, and I’ll give you some different options. But what I would recommend since he didn’t take any samples, what I would recommend is… Now, did he backfill the hole? Is it all the way back filled up to grade and everything?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I’m sorry to say this, I was so upset, so upset with him. I said to him, “Why don’t you leave it like that?” He said, “No, no. By law, I have to do it.” And do you know what he did? He took out and he mixed all the… I mean, that’s not the way it has to be. The way you need it, it’s like, if you dug through three layers and you made three different stages, right? You don’t mix all the three stages together and put it back, right? If there is a contamination, right, you leave the contamination on the bottom most, then you put the fresh soil. He mixed all the soil, so now if there’s contamination I have [inaudible 00:09:22].

Teddy:

Yeah, the right process is to line the hole with plastic. And then you put the clean stuff on top of the plastic. That’s the proper way to do it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. No, he did not do anything like that. He just put it back. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Teddy:

Well, so all right. So here’s what I would recommend. We can definitely help you out, but the first step, okay? We need to know how extensive this contamination is. And what I would recommend is have us come down. We would drill around in that area. It’s a two inch pipe that we would drill down holes, and then we would pull the soil up. And we would see what the level is of the contamination. If it’s under a certain level, then we could just write a report for the state and you’re done with it. Okay? If it’s over the-

Speaker 3:

And what is the certain level?

Teddy:

Well the initial investigation is $600. That’s what we charge for that service. And that’ll tell us-

Speaker 3:

No, no, no.

Teddy:

Go ahead.

Speaker 3:

What are the certain levels, of the soil?

Teddy:

The levels, levels. So all right, so it’s a two step levels, basically. So ideally you really want everything to be under a thousand parts per million. That’s best case. If it’s under a thousand, we don’t have to do any additional analysis at the lab, and we can close out with a report to the DEP, and they’ll give you a no further action letter. That’s best case. Okay? If it’s over a thousand parts per million, but below 5,100 parts per million technically it can stay in the ground, but it will have to pass additional analysis at the lab. So a lot of times, if it is in between those two numbers, it will pass. So really, you really want it under a thousand. Next best thing is under 5,100. Anything over 5,100 has to get remediated.

Speaker 3:

Okay. Now, can you help me out? If it’s under 51… Now I’m understanding. I don’t even know. I don’t even freaking know, as sitting here right now that it’s under thousand or it’s under 51,000 or under 6,000, okay? So sitting here, I’m asking you, how would I know, if it’s just giving you vague example, if it’s 4,000, what would be the next step?

Teddy:

So, okay. So if we come down there and drill around, and this is what I would do. I’d go down there, drill around and I would send one sample out to the lab. Let’s see what that sample is, okay? And if it comes back at 4,000, like you just said, and whenever it comes back over a thousand during this initial investigation phase, I would recommend taking a little bit of soil out, okay? Because we can go back and take our six, because you need six samples taken with the oversight from a geologist. And we don’t want to spend all that money initially, if it’s going to be over the limits. That’s why the first phase is just investigation. It really is only for your use and my use. It’s not for the DEP, it’s for you and I to figure out how extensive this cleanup is. And then we can come back to you with some pricing. But if it’s a 4,000 parts per million, that first sample I would recommend to take out a little bit of soil in that situation.

Speaker 3:

Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. So, and this has to be done by a certified licensed professional like you, or can I just do it and give it to the lab and figure it out?

Teddy:

No, it has to be done by a certified contractor. In order for us to come down there and really drill down and figure this out. Because for us, when we do that investigation, once we’re done, I’m going to be able to tell you to the dollar and it’s going to be a fixed number, exactly what it’s going to cost for you to close this out. All these other guys give you open-ended contracts. So they’re going to tell you, oh it starts at 6,000 and then it goes up from here. And then they don’t tell you what the final invoice is going to be. A lot of times they come out that $6,000 quote, the invoice is $20,000 at the end of the day. So you’ve got to be very careful. Our program, when we do our investigation for $600 bucks, I’m going to give you a fixed number. That number does not change. You make the decision before the project starts, if you want to pay. And that number will not fluctuate.

Speaker 3:

Okay. Okay. Okay. So that’s a nice thing to know.

Teddy:

Now, if he had a sample, that’s why I asked. So a lot of times we get these phone calls where another contractor pulled the tank. They took the one sample, so they followed the correct process. And then the-

Speaker 3:

No, he did not.

Teddy:

Yeah. See, and then the homeowner would call us at that time. And then I ask, “Do you have a sample?” They say, yes. “Okay. What are the results?” And then we don’t have to do this next step. So, because he didn’t do the sample, we have to now go out down there and prob around to find out.

Speaker 3:

No [crosstalk 00:14:06]. Yeah, he said you can see it from a naked eye, right? That there is an oil contamination and I’m like, okay. See you go by what they say, right?

Teddy:

Well, of course, he’s trying to tell you that because he wants you to do the most expensive job, which is a remediation, but you may not even need that. You might be able to just sample it and write a report. And a lot of times it’s a quarter of the price of a remediation. A typical remediation, just so you understand, if we find that we have to take soil out, just so you understand cost. Typically on average they are about 8 to 15,000. So it’s very expensive. If I can prove that that soil is under the limits, I could close out something for $4,500 bucks. I could close the whole job, it can be finished.

Speaker 3:

Oh okay. I mean $4,500. I’m not able to understand. Okay, you need to repeat again, what did you just say?

Teddy:

Okay. So if we find, okay, so step one is for us to come down there and probe around to determine the level of contamination. That’s step one. Once we have the level, then I’m going to come back to you with options. I’m going to say, here are your options. Option one is going to be for us to basically, to come back and take the six samples that are required. And that’s something like that with the report is about $4,500 bucks.

Speaker 3:

Oh, okay. Okay. Okay. Depending on the readings, right?

Teddy:

Exactly. Exactly. We need that initial reading.

Speaker 3:

Depending on the first sample.

Teddy:

Exactly.

Speaker 3:

Okay. Let me do one thing. Sorry, I came back to my house and my little one is literally all over me, because he didn’t see me since morning. You there?

Teddy:

Yes, I’m here. Yep.

Speaker 3:

Hello?

Teddy:

Yeah, yeah I’m here. Can you hear me?

Speaker 3:

Okay. Yeah, I can hear you. Give me some time, okay? Let me, I’m not available tomorrow and day after tomorrow, I want to meet the person who will be doing the sampling. Let me circle back to you Friday, first thing around 11:00 ish, okay? And then schedule a time for Monday or Tuesday.

Teddy:

Okay. So yeah, I’m going to email you right now, I have all your info. I’ll email you the proposal for the $600 bucks. Once you sign it, it takes about four business days for us to get out there on our calendar. So just keep that in mind. I’m going to email it to you, so you have it in your inbox. If you want to call Friday, that’s fine, but it’ll be about four business days out in our schedule.

Speaker 3:

Okay. Perfect. Perfect. Thank you. Thank you.

Teddy:

All right, thank you for calling. Take it easy. Bye. Bye.

Speaker 3:

Bye. Bye.

23 February, 2024

Tank Talk Episode 012 – How Can I Protect My Downside When Buying a Home with an Oil Tank?

In this episode, Teddy talks with a future client about buying a home with a previously filled underground oil tank. The seller is pushing back saying that they have all the proper documents. Teddy explains why it is so important to not trust those docs!

Questions Asked…..

  1. The seller refuses to remove the tank, is there anything I can do to minimize my risk? 1:00
  2. Does the cleanup mean we need a No Further Action letter 2:30
  3. How can you see if the soil is contaminated 4:30
  4. Is the tank filled properly, what is the chance you will find a oil leak? 5:30
  5. If the tree is on top of the tree, will your company take it down? 6:30
  6. How big will the holes be when you test the soil? 7:30
  7. How much does average oil tank removal cost? 8:30

Transcription…

Narrator:

Welcome to Tank Talk with Teddy, a podcast talking all things related to residential oil tanks. You have questions? Teddy has answers.

Teddy:

Hello?

Andrew:

Hi. My name is Andrew. I got a question related to oil tin removal.

Teddy:

Sure, I can help you with that.

Andrew:

I hope you can help me that. So, the situation is that I’m going to buy a house with an underground oil tin. It’s a 550 gallon tin, which is under the front yard of the house. It was properly abandoned in 1996. My situation is down the seller of the house, where it fails to do anything. So, I have to take the risk to buy the house with the tin. But before I do that, I want to find out, is it any key cautions, any soil testing that I can do in the inspection period? So, I can at least have a better idea whether there’s an oil leak or whether there’s soil contamination around the tin. Is this something that’s possible or there’s no way to tell?

Teddy:

Absolutely. Yeah, I could definitely help you with this. So, I’ll explain typically how the industry works. For soil testing around a tank like this, basically they will send somebody out to do it by hand, and they bore down alongside the tank. But a lot of times they don’t get to the proper depth and they don’t ever back up the results with some kind of warranty or guarantee. So, for you as a buyer, if you were to pay somebody five or $600 and they gave you results with no guarantee, you are going to be liable for a potential cleanup in the future. So, that’s not going to work, right?

Teddy:

So we have a program where we can come in. We have a special machine called a geoprobe that probes around the side of the tank. I just pull a lever, so I know my guy is going to get to the proper depth. If we can prove that the soil around the tank is clean, we’re going to offer you an optional guarantee for that. It covers you for up to six months. So as long as you hire our company to pull that tank within six months, and if we find any contamination, it could be $50,000 worth of cleanup, you’re covered. We would cover it and clean it up for no additional cost to you, if you take the optional guarantee.

Andrew:

Okay, so the cleanup doesn’t mean that it’s over township and get the no follow up actions certificate?

Teddy:

Yes, that’s what I mean. So let’s say hypothetically, we test the tank next week. I tell you that the soil is clean. You say, great, I’m going to buy the house. Two months from now, you close on the house, you hire us to pull it. I come out and pull that tank out of the ground, and I find that it’s riddled with holes and there’s contamination directly under that tank that we missed. We would then have to get a case number from the DEP, we’d have to then clean up the soil and write a report to get you that no further action letter. That is going to be all included in your guaranteed price.

Andrew:

Okay. I see. So, that means it’s kind of an insurance. So maybe you charge a little bit more than the other company, but you guarantee that you take care of the pull up? [crosstalk 00:03:22]

Teddy:

Exactly. The first step is we charge $600 for the investigation. So, you’re going to have two outcomes. If you can picture that, you’ll have two outcomes on that initial test next week. One outcome, we’re going to find clean soil. I’ll come back to you. I’m going to send those samples to the lab, get lab results and give you those results and tell you that you’re all clear, you’re good to go. Okay, that’s one outcome.

Teddy:

The second outcome is that we find contamination. And when we’re out there that day, if we find contamination, we’re going to do what’s called a delineation. What that means, in layman’s terms, is we’re going to figure out how deep the contamination is, how far it traveled in each direction, and we’re going to give you a fixed price that you can then go to the seller to negotiate. We even have a program where… I’m going to throw numbers at you. Let’s just say it’s a $15,000 remediation. We could come in now, do the remediation at no cost to you or the seller, and the seller could pay us at closing, once we give him the clean bill of health.

Andrew:

Okay. I think that makes sense to me. I think that’s just more save approach. But do you mind just to expand a little bit, like soil contamination? I don’t think it’s like a zero and one thing. So, how do you consider the soil is contaminated? Is it really a black and white case or [inaudible 00:04:42] area?

Teddy:

It’s very black and white. It’s very obvious. So you, as a homeowner, a potential homeowner that has never seen an oil tank come out of the ground, you don’t need me or a township inspector to tell you it’s leaking. It’s very obvious. You can see the soil. It’s discolored. It’s got an odor to it. The tank is riddled of holes. It’s a very obvious thing. So, it’s a visual inspection, initially, that’s done, and then a sample is typically taken from the bottom of the excavation to determine what level the contamination’s at, okay? Because you are allowed to keep contamination in the ground, up to a certain level. And we would have to go through that process once the tank is out. But yeah, if you have the guarantee, you are completely covered, you have no additional worries, you have nothing else to worry about once you close on that property. You have no extra liability. You have nothing that’s going to pop out at you down the road that’s going to cost you a fortune.

Andrew:

Okay, got it. Do you mind if I ask two more questions?

Teddy:

Absolutely.

Andrew:

The first one is, based on your experience, if the tin is sealed properly, in 1996, what’s the chance to have an oil leak come from that tin?

Teddy:

Very high. And let me, [crosstalk 00:05:56]. Yeah, let me explain why it’s very high. Because in 1996, they decided to take that tank out of service. Most of the time, the people didn’t just decide on a whim that they didn’t like oil heat anymore, most of the time. Most of the time that that tank was taking on water, and the heating system wasn’t properly working, which means they had no heat. So what they did is they followed all the proper rules and regulations back then, they opened it up, and they threw sand in it. The problem is it wasn’t required to test the soil around the tank, so there’s no way to tell back in 96 that tank was actually leaking. So a lot of these previously filled tanks were actually leaking before they were filled in place. So, once we pull it, we’re going to find that out, or once we do our soil investigation, we’re going to know that.

Andrew:

Okay, I see. And another thing is that it looks like there’s a tree on top of the oil tin. Do you also take care of the tree removal or I need to find a different company to handle that?

Teddy:

It depends on the size of the tree, but when we come out to do our soil investigation, we’ll be able to let you know if we can handle it and how much it would cost or if it was too big and you had to hire someone else to remove it. When we do our soil investigation, we’re going to know the exact location of that tank, and we’ll let you know which landscaping will be impacted during the dig, and we’ll be able to give you a fixed number on what the cost would be to remove it and all that stuff at that time, and we’ll be able to tell you if we can handle the tree or not.

Andrew:

Okay. And I think you mentioned you have the tools to dig down into the ground to test the oil. What little bit, the impact… Is it just a small hole or there will be a big hole that you need to dig from the ground?

Teddy:

It’s a two inch piece of pipe that gets drilled in through the ground. So, it’s a two inch hole, and we fill the hole in when we’re done. So, when we leave initially during that investigation, you won’t even know we were there.

Andrew:

[inaudible 00:07:56]. Okay. I think that’s really helpful. Let me just talk to my real estate agent. I think most likely I will just call you back and arrange a visit to your house.

Teddy:

Okay, perfect. Yeah, call back and I can take your info, email you out a proposal. Everything we do is electronic. You would sign it electronically. We’ll call you for a 50% deposit, and then we’ll set you up on the schedule. And then when we come out, you pay the balance.

Andrew:

Okay. Sorry, just one more thing forget to ask. So $600 for the inspection, and we want to remove the oil tin, assume there’s no soil contamination. What’s the FH cost for that?

Teddy:

So, it’s about $1,500 typically, plus permits. And if the sand inside of it is contaminated, there’s typically a charge to dispose of that. If it was done in 96 with a permit, most likely that sand is going to be clean. I’m going to reuse that sand as fill material, so there’s no charge for that. But if it’s contaminated, there’ll be an additional fee. So, all that will be spelled out in the contract, if you decide to go forward with us on the guarantee, and that’ll be in the contract itself.

Andrew:

Okay. Sounds good. What’s the name?

Teddy:

My name is Teddy, T-E-D-D-Y, Slack, S-L-A-C-K, from Simple Tech.

Andrew:

Okay, understood. So if I call back, do I need to ask for you or I can just speak to somebody else?

Teddy:

If you want, what I could do is I could take your info right now, I’ll email you proposals in the next few minutes. And then if you decide that you want to move forward, all you have to do is literally open up the email and click approve and type in your name, and then we’ll get everything rolling from that point. Would you like to do that?

Andrew:

Yeah, sounds good. Let’s do it.

Teddy:

Okay, perfect. Look into your email inbox in the next few minutes. You’ll have it there. If you have any questions, my name is Teddy.

Andrew:

Okay. Thank you very much.

Teddy:

Thank you, sir. Bye-bye.

Andrew:

Okay, thank you. Bye-bye.

23 February, 2024