Steps // How to Remove an Old Fuel Tank
1 ×

Pump Out the Tank

 
Step One // How to Remove an Old Fuel Tank

Pump Out the Tank

Removal Specialists’ Robert Crowe inserts the hose that will suck out the uncontaminated fuel oil
Photo by Sarah Violette

After removing the tank’s gauge, Removal Specialists’ Robert Crowe inserts the hose that will suck out the uncontaminated fuel oil. He connects the hose to an explosion-proof transfer pump, which feeds the oil through another hose into a drum outside. That leftover oil will then be filtered and used for heating.

 
2 ×

Cut the Tank Open

 
Step Two // How to Remove an Old Fuel Tank

Cut the Tank Open

Removal Specialists’ Robert Crowe slices through the tank’s 12-gauge wall with a reciprocating saw
Photo by Sarah Violette

With the fuel oil removed, Crowe slices through the tank’s 12-gauge wall with a reciprocating saw fitted with a metal-cutting blade. Since fuel oil has a high flash point, there’s no concern that the hot metal sparks thrown off by the blade could ignite any fumes trapped in the tank.

 
3 ×

Clean the Tank

 
Step Three // How to Remove an Old Fuel Tank

Clean the Tank

the cut open oil tank
Photo by Sarah Violette

The hole that Crowe cuts into the side of the tank is wide and deep enough for him to reach in and scrape down the inside walls. When they’re clean, he scoops the sludge—a thick, black slurry that accumulates in the bottom of all oil tanks over years of use—into 5-gallon buckets.

 
4 ×

Recycle the Sludge

 
Step Four // How to Remove an Old Fuel Tank

Recycle the Sludge

Removal Specialists’ Lino Hernandez pours the sludge into a 55-gallon drum
Photo by Sarah Violette

Lino Hernandez pours the sludge into a 55-gallon drum. When filled, the drum will be taken to a specialized waste-management facility that processes the sludge so it can be burned for industrial use.

 
5 ×

Cut the Pipes

 
Step Five // How to Remove an Old Fuel Tank

Cut the Pipes

cutting away the pipes leading to the oil tank
Photo by Sarah Violette

Because an oil delivery to a disconnected pipe could result in a disastrous spill, Crowe severs the tank’s vent and fill pipes and removes them from the foundation. He then fills the holes with a concrete-patching compound.

 
6 ×

Move It Out

 
Step Six // How to Remove an Old Fuel Tank

Move It Out

Removal Specialists’ Crowe and Enrique Cobos-Cordero muscle the empty tank up and out the basement bulkhead
Photo by Sarah Violette

Crowe and Enrique Cobos-Cordero muscle the empty tank up and out the basement bulkhead. The tank will be taken to a state-certified yard, where it will be inspected and scrapped and then carried to a steel mill to be melted down.

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