Steps of Underground Tank Demolition

Underground storage tanks (USTs) pose a serious environmental risk and can be a big obstacle to new construction. A lot of USTs are used to hold oil and gas products, but they can be used to hold a wide variety of chemicals. Unfortunately, USTs are hardly ever fully drained and are left abandoned holding small, but dangerous, amounts of chemicals that can make demolition a bit tricky.

These lingering chemicals not only make demolition hard, they can also create environmental dangers. As the tank sits underground and ages, the chemicals will start to break down the walls of the tank and could start to seep into the nearby soil. If these seeping chemicals were to find their way into a water source, it would mean big trouble for the property owner and surrounding residents.

At DT Specialized, we have years of experience safely removing USTs. To mitigate the risk of uncontrolled explosions and environmental contaminations, we take the following steps when demolishing USTs.

Notify the Authorities

State, federal, and sometimes city governments need to be notified prior to the demolition of USTs. In most cases, notice needs to be given 30 days before demolition begins.

Drain the Tank

Before we start lifting or damaging the tank, we need to make sure it’s safe. A quick inspection for remaining chemicals will be completed and if anything is found, we’ll drain the tank. Any chemicals we remove will be properly disposed of according to environmental protocol.

Inert the Tank

To make sure there aren’t any dangerous and flammable fumes lurking, we replace all the oxygen with an inert gas such as carbon dioxide or nitrogen.

Start Digging

Now that we have the all clear, we can start digging out the tank. We need to remove all the soil around the tank so we can have full access to the tank.


The size and nature of the tank will dictate the removal method. Some will simply be lifted out and hauled away, but others might need to be cut into smaller pieces. Occasionally, a tank can be cleaned and sealed in place, meaning we leave it in the ground after we make it safe. This can happen when a building is already on top of a tank or under similar extenuating conditions. To do this, we drain it, pump it with inert gas, clean it, seal it, and then do extensive follow up testing. This is rare, but it does happen from time to time.

UST demolition is a complicated process that’s better left to the professionals. If you’re in need of this service call DT Specialized.