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Real Estate Q&A: Oil Tank Scans

Apr 13, 2021 | Real Estate

This spring, we are sharing common questions that we receive from clients regarding real estate transactions. From transaction timelines to deposits, be sure to read our Q&A series on real estate matters. Find our second installment below:


The answer as to whether you will need an oil tank scan as part of your inspections is always YES! 

An abandoned underground oil tank is one of the most significant inspection defects that can occur on a property. Essentially, an abandoned underground oil tank can eventually be breached and leak oil into the soil, or even worse, into the ground water. If this occurs, it will cost several thousands of dollars to:

  • Conduct soil tests
  • Remove and replace soil
  • Multiple re-tests until the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is satisfied with the work done and issues a No Further Action (NFA) letter

If the ground water is contaminated, then the environmental remediation work must go further and will require more significant monitoring by the NJDEP. Ultimately, an underground leaking oil tank can cost a homeowner several thousands, and sometimes, tens of thousands of dollars.


Certainly, you do not want to get caught in a position where you did not do your due diligence and you buy the house with the abandoned underground oil tank. If you decide to sell your home in the future, you are then responsible for the remediation.

At that point, it may jeopardize your sale or cost you thousands of dollars to remediate this condition. Even if you buy a house that has an abandoned underground oil tank that is not leaking, when you go to resell it, you will be required by most potential buyers to remove it. As such, it is better to protect yourself and do the oil tank scan now while you are doing your inspections to ensure that the property either does not have an abandoned underground oil tank or that you have the seller take care of it before you become the owner of the property.

A skillful and experienced real estate attorney will guide you through this process and explain the significance of getting the oil tank scan done. More importantly, a skillful real estate attorney will be able to explain and guide you through the process if an oil tank scan is positive for an abandoned underground oil tank.

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