Q: There’s a fuel tank in the ground on the airpark property I am interested in buying. The seller hasn’t had fuel delivered in a number of years, but says the tank is sound and there’s no reason it can’t be filled by a local distributor of avgas or auto fuel. What are the rules on this? Can I buy fuel in bulk? I know a lot of gas stations in town have had to dig up and replace their fuel tanks and I’ve heard that’s costly. Would a property like I’m looking at require that type of action?
A: Oil companies can sell fuel to an individual and deliver it to your underground tank in any quantity that works out for both parties. However, before the oil company can legally deliver the fuel and pump it into your underground storage tank, it must see your Underground Storage Tank permit.
In order to obtain a permit, you must register your tank with the EPA (or whatever the appropriate agency is in your state). That agency will come out and check your tank to make sure there are no leaks or other problems that can contaminate the surrounding ground.
Assuming all checks out properly, you will be issued a permit, which then can be shown to the oil company.
You are responsible for making sure the tank doesn’t leak and meets all the requirements of the EPA and other state and federal requirements.
My concern about older tanks has always been the cost of removing them and performing the remediation of the soil if the EPA requires it because of leakage. If there are tanks in the ground that aren’t being used and you don’t plan to try and get them approved for fuel, there is little risk of the EPA or other similar agencies finding out about the tanks and requiring their removal.
Dave Sclair is co-founder of Living With Your Plane and a renowned expert on airparks.