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Maryland State Government Maryland Department of the Environment

Underground Storage Residential Oil Tank Removal

This fact sheet is to inform owners of the procedures involved in abandoning fuel oil tanks with a capacity of 1,100 gallons or less on their residential properties tanks taken out of service after October 1992 must follow these guidelines. Tanks taken out of service prior to 10/1/92 must be pumped out and can be left in place. 

If your tank is under a building or would endanger a building if removed, then it is recommended that you abandon the tank in-place. If abandonment in-place is the only option, clean out the tank and fill the tank with sand or a cement slurry mix. Abandoning in-place is only recommended in these limited circumstances.

For all qualifying tanks, the procedure for removal of a residential underground storage tank is as follow:

  • Notify the Oil Supplier: If you are converting to gas or electric heat, or if you are replacing your tank, call your oil distributor and ask them to discontinue the oil service to your home.
  • Obtain a Contractor: Hire a competent contracting company to do the tank closure and removal for you. Your oil supplier or MDE can provide you a list of State certified contractors for the job.
  • Obtain a Local Permit: Before any excavation work can be started, a permit to abandon the underground tank may be required from a county agency, such as the local fire department, health department, or planning department.
  • Remove Product from the Tank: All product, or oil, must be removed from the tank and lines before closing or removing the tank. Your supplier may pump out the reusable oil and credit your account.
  • Conduct excavation: Dig to the top of the tank and expose the piping.
  • Disconnect Piping and Drain: All piping including the tank fill line should be disconnected, drained, and removed, or capped if it cannot be removed.
  • Clean tank and remove: Oil sludge or residue should be removed and disposed of properly. Once the tank is cleaned, remove it from the ground.
  • Report and Cleanup a Release: You and the contractor performing the work must report any contamination of soil or groundwater found during tank removal to MDE immediately upon discovery. Call (410) 537-3442 during work hours or 1-866-633-4686 after hours.
  • Dispose of Tank: Once the tank is removed from the ground it is ready for disposal. There are a number of locations, such as dismantling yards, landfills, or local scrap yards, which are willing to accept tanks. Your contractor or MDE can assist you in finding a proper disposal location.
If your tank is larger than 1,100 gallons in capacity, you must follow more stringent removal requirements as well as the registration of your tank with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), Land Management Administration, Oil Control Program.