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Underground Storage Tanks: Real Estate License Explained

An underground storage tank with a blueprint-like design
In this article

In the world of real estate, there are various factors that can greatly influence property value and the overall buying experience. One important aspect that often goes unnoticed is underground storage tanks (USTs). While they might not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering real estate, understanding USTs and their significance is crucial for both buyers and sellers alike.

What is Underground Storage Tanks?

Underground storage tanks (USTs) are containers used to store various substances, such as petroleum products and hazardous chemicals, beneath the ground’s surface. Commonly found in residential, commercial, and industrial properties, these tanks serve as a convenient solution for storing and accessing necessary substances. However, it is essential to be aware of their potential risks and impact on real estate transactions.

One key consideration when dealing with underground storage tanks is the issue of environmental contamination. Over time, USTs can deteriorate, leading to leaks that release harmful substances into the surrounding soil and groundwater. This can result in significant environmental damage and pose health risks to nearby residents. As a result, proper maintenance, monitoring, and compliance with regulations are crucial to prevent such incidents.

Moreover, the presence of underground storage tanks can also impact property values and transactions. Buyers and sellers need to navigate complex regulations regarding USTs, including compliance with storage tank regulations, leak detection requirements, and cleanup standards. Failure to address these issues adequately can lead to delays in property transactions and potential legal liabilities. Therefore, it is vital for all parties involved to conduct thorough due diligence and seek professional guidance when dealing with properties that have underground storage tanks.

Understanding Underground Storage Tanks

To get a clearer picture of USTs, it is important to understand how they function and their construction. USTs are usually made of materials such as fiberglass-reinforced plastic, steel, or a combination of the two. They are designed to withstand the pressure and weight exerted by the substance they hold, as well as potential external forces.

These tanks are typically installed below the ground, with only access points visible at the surface. Proper installation and maintenance ensure that USTs function effectively and safely, preventing leaks or other potential hazards.

One key aspect of underground storage tanks is their corrosion protection. Depending on the material used, USTs may have corrosion-resistant coatings or cathodic protection systems in place to prevent deterioration over time. Regular inspections and monitoring are crucial to ensure that these protective measures remain intact and effective.

Furthermore, USTs are equipped with various components to facilitate their operation, such as leak detection systems, overfill prevention devices, and automatic tank gauging systems. These components work together to enhance the safety and efficiency of storing hazardous substances underground.

Why Is Underground Storage Tanks Important?

The importance of understanding USTs extends beyond mere knowledge. It directly impacts the real estate industry due to potential risks and legal obligations associated with these tanks. For both buyers and sellers, identifying and addressing UST-related issues is crucial to ensure a smooth transaction and protect the interests of all parties involved.

One key reason why underground storage tanks are important is their significant role in storing various substances, such as petroleum products, chemicals, and hazardous materials. These tanks are commonly used by industries like gas stations, manufacturing plants, and even residential properties that require bulk storage of liquids. The proper maintenance and monitoring of USTs are essential to prevent leaks, spills, and contamination of soil and groundwater, which can have detrimental effects on the environment and public health.

Furthermore, understanding the regulatory requirements surrounding underground storage tanks is vital for compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines, legal consequences, and reputational damage for property owners and businesses. It is crucial for stakeholders to stay informed about evolving regulations and implement best practices to ensure the safe operation and management of UST systems.

Example of Underground Storage Tanks

A notable example of UST significance in real estate is with older properties. Many older homes were built before the regulations regarding UST installation and maintenance were established. Consequently, there is a higher likelihood of encountering USTs that may no longer comply with current standards. Identifying the presence of these tanks and assessing their condition becomes imperative for both buyers and sellers.

Moreover, the presence of underground storage tanks can pose environmental risks if not properly maintained. Leaks or spills from these tanks can contaminate soil and groundwater, leading to costly cleanup efforts and potential health hazards. It is essential for property owners to conduct regular inspections and maintenance to prevent such incidents and ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

Additionally, the history of underground storage tanks on a property can impact its value and marketability. Buyers may be hesitant to invest in a property with a legacy of USTs due to the potential liabilities associated with them. Sellers, on the other hand, may need to disclose any past UST issues, which could affect the selling price and negotiation process. Understanding the implications of USTs on real estate transactions is crucial for all parties involved in the buying and selling process.

Why Is Underground Storage Tanks Important in Real estate?

When dealing with real estate transactions, USTs can introduce potential environmental and financial risks. Leakage from USTs can contaminate soil and groundwater, leading to costly environmental remediation efforts. Additionally, many states and local authorities have specific regulations that govern USTs. Compliance with these regulations is essential for property owners and can impact property value and legality.

It is important for buyers and sellers to be aware of USTs on the property they are dealing with to avoid potential legal disputes, environmental liabilities, and unexpected costs. Due diligence and proper inspections are necessary to ensure the integrity of the property and the safety of the individuals involved.

Moreover, the presence of USTs can also affect the financing options available for a real estate transaction. Lenders may be hesitant to provide funding for properties with underground storage tanks due to the associated risks. This can complicate the buying or selling process and may require additional steps to secure financing.

Furthermore, the maintenance and monitoring of USTs are ongoing responsibilities for property owners. Regular inspections, leak detection tests, and compliance with regulatory requirements are essential to prevent environmental contamination and ensure the safe storage of hazardous materials.


While often overlooked, understanding underground storage tanks plays a crucial role in the real estate industry. Buyers and sellers need to be well-informed about USTs to protect their interests and navigate potential risks. Ensuring proper inspection and compliance with regulations are vital for a successful real estate transaction that protects the environment and the parties involved.

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