Quick Takeaways

  • Corrosion is the most common reason for leaks
  • Improper installation is another cause of leaks
  • External damage from construction activities or natural disasters may also cause leaks

Source: Top Causes of Underground Storage Tank Leaks (Environmental Works, Jan. 17, 2023)

Until the mid-1980s most underground storage tanks (USTs) were made of bare steel, which is likely to corrode over time and allow UST contents to leak into the environment. The greatest potential hazard from a leaking UST is that its contents (petroleum or other hazardous substances) can seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater, the source of drinking water for nearly half of all Americans.

The EPA keeps track of underground storage tanks performance measures, such as cleanups and inspections. Removing and disposing of old tanks is a complex process that a lot of home buyers do not want to undertake. For that reason, many REALTORS® recommend removing them before sale. 

Underground storage tanks impact property values negatively. Buyers pay more to live outside of a mile from a UST.

The EPA provides resources for obtaining underground storage tank insurance and a list of clean up enforcement tools.

Need more information? Check out the list of government and non-government resources.

See References for more information.

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