‘Tank Yank’ will remove polluting underground tanks for free

Posted April 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm

The State of South Dakota has entered its 14th year of the voluntary tank removal program. The S.D. Department of Environment and Natural Resources will remove the tanks that qualify, and the Petroleum Release Compensation Fund will pay for the removal and any necessary cleanup, but any resurfacing of the area is the responsibility of the property owner.

The Abandoned Tank Removal Program has removed tanks at approximately 3,000 sites; however, many underground storage tanks no longer used have never been removed from the ground. Petroleum products may still be in the tanks or have leaked into the ground. The spillage can cause ground water to become polluted and may be a risk to people in the area.

Two primary reasons are cited for tank removal. First is the possibility of pollution. One gallon of gasoline has the potential to render one million gallons of water undrinkable. Leaks from abandoned tanks can also contaminate the soil around the tanks, causing unhealthy gasoline vapors to seep into basements of private homes and businesses. Second, as old tanks become corroded, there is an increased risk of the tank collapsing, and someone or something falling into the hole or tank.

The State’s goal is to remove every abandoned underground storage tank that was used to store a petroleum product, such as gasoline, diesel, fuel oil, waste oil, etc. It will not remove petroleum tanks that are inaccessible, such as any located beneath a building. The State will also not remove non-petroleum tanks, such as propane tanks or septic tanks.

The petroleum-tank removal is of no cost to the property owner. The owner only needs to fill out a Tank Removal Form, which gives permission to the State to dig up the tank(s) and do any necessary cleanup.

When the program was first approved by the 2000 Legislature, the State was required to place a lien on the property for five years; however, the 2001 Legislature approved eliminating the lien.

For additional information, call the Abandoned Tank Removal Program at 605-773-3296, or e-mail DENRINTERNET@state.sd.us. You may also find information and a permission form at http://denr.sd.gov/TankYank.