The Top Contaminants Found in Decommissioned Oil Tanks and How to Handle Them Safely 1

Decommissioning an oil tank can be a challenging task, especially when dealing with the various contaminants that might be found in the tank. Whether the tank is buried or above-ground, there is always a chance that it contains toxins or impurities that could be harmful to the environment. In this article, we will discuss the top contaminants found in decommissioned oil tanks and how to handle them safely.

Contaminant #1: Petroleum Hydrocarbons

Petroleum hydrocarbons are some of the most common contaminants found in oil tanks. These can include benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, all of which are toxic and can be harmful if they find their way into the groundwater. If you suspect that petroleum hydrocarbons are present, it’s important to have the tank professionally drained and removed. The soil around the tank may also need to be tested to ensure that these toxins haven’t seeped into the surrounding area.

The Top Contaminants Found in Decommissioned Oil Tanks and How to Handle Them Safely 2

Contaminant #2: Sludge and Sediment

Over time, sediment and sludge can accumulate in oil tanks, especially if they haven’t been cleaned regularly. This can lead to clogged filters, decreased efficiency, and even tank failure. When decommissioning a tank, it’s important to remove any sediment and sludge that might be present to prevent these issues. It’s best to have a professional handle this task, as they will have the proper equipment and experience to do it safely.

Contaminant #3: Water

Water is another common contaminant found in decommissioned oil tanks. It can enter the tank through leaks or condensation and can cause corrosion, tank failure, and even contamination of the surrounding area. If you suspect that water is present, it’s important to remove it before decommissioning the tank. This can be done by draining the tank and then allowing it to dry completely. It’s important to note that water should never be drained into the environment.

Contaminant #4: Rust and Corrosion

Rust and corrosion can weaken the structure of an oil tank, making it more susceptible to leaks and failure. When inspecting a tank for decommissioning, it’s important to look for signs of rust and corrosion, such as cracks, holes, or weak spots. If these are present, the tank should be drained and then carefully dismantled. Any rust or corrosion found on the exterior of the tank should be removed with a wire brush or sander before the tank is scrapped or recycled.

Contaminant #5: Bacteria and Mold

Finally, bacteria and mold can grow inside decommissioned oil tanks, especially if they have been left abandoned for some time. These contaminants can pose a health risk to anyone who comes into contact with them and can also cause damage to the tank itself. When decommissioning a tank, it’s important to inspect it for signs of bacterial or mold growth. If present, the tank should be thoroughly cleaned using a biocide and then dried completely.


Decommissioning an oil tank can be a complicated process, but with the right precautions and expert advice, it can be done safely and effectively. By identifying the potential contaminants that might be present in the tank, you’ll be better equipped to handle them and prevent any harm to the environment or your own health. If you’re unsure about how to decommission your oil tank, always seek advice from a professional. Uncover more information about the subject by checking out this recommended external website. Click for additional information on this subject.

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