North Carolina Underground Storage Tank Contractors

Best UST Contractors in North CarolinaDo you need to remove an underground storage tank (UST)? Do you need help dealing with a leaking UST (LUST)? Do you need help filing a claim for assessment and cleanup costs with the NC LUST Trust Fund? If so, you will want to research different environmental consulting firms to find the one that best fits your company’s unique and important needs. While our services help clients with all types of environmental issues—including USTs—we understand you may still want to consider all of your options before selecting a UST contractor.

It is common for companies to ask, “If we do not use EMS Environmental, who would you recommend?” Here at EMS, we do not shy away from daunting questions and have an honest and transparent philosophy when it comes to interacting with our current and future clients. This is why we have compiled a list of the eight best UST contractors in North Carolina.

It is important to employ the help of environmental professionals who possess the knowledge and expertise of ever-changing state and Federal environmental regulations. Searching for the right UST contractor to effectively and efficiently meet your objectives may seem tedious, but it is also an important step to ensure you and your property are protected in the event of environmental contamination. We understand that there are many environmental consultants in your area, and some may be more suitable for your situation than others.

In this article, we will briefly discuss the qualifications that a UST contractor should possess, and a list of the best UST contractors in North Carolina.

What Qualifications Should a UST Contractor Possess?

EMS recommends the following qualifications for UST contractors:

  • Tank Removal Certifications
  • Professional Geologist/Professional Engineer License
  • Experience with NC LUST Trust Fund
  • Experience with similar properties
  • Experience with the type of material in the tank
  • Remediation experience
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Responsiveness and reputation for closing UST projects

Tank Removal Certifications

In North Carolina, UST contractors are not required to have specific certifications related to UST activities. However, EMS recommends that at a minimum all workers have completed 40 Hour OSHA HAZWOPER Training and are current on the annual 8-Hour Refresher courses. All EMS employees comply with the corporate Health and Safety Program developed in accordance with Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1910.120 (29 CFR 1910.120). Subcontractors, visitors, regulatory agency personnel, site owners, and their representatives must also comply with site-specific safety requirements.

EMS-NC also looks for subcontractors who adhere to the cleaning, removal, and safety procedures provided in the May 1, 2017 NC Guidelines for Site Checks, Tank Closures, and Initial Response and Abatement for UST Releases:

  • American Petroleum Institute
    • Recommended Practice 1604, Removal and Disposal of Used Underground Petroleum Storage Tanks
    • Standard 2015, Requirements for Safe Entry and Cleaning of Petroleum Storage Tanks.
    • Publication 2217A, Guidelines for Work in Inert Confined Spaces in the Petroleum and Petrochemical Industry.
    • Publication 2219, Safe Operating Guidelines for Vacuum Trucks in Petroleum Service.
    • Recommended Practice 2003, Protection Against Ignition Arising Out of Static, Lightening and Stray Currents.
  • National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)
    • 70B, Electrical Equipment Maintenance.
    • 326, Safe Entry of Underground Storage Tanks.
    • 327, Standard Procedure for Cleaning or Safeguarding Small tanks and Containers.
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
    • Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Working in Confined Spaces.
    • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
    • 29 Code of Federal Regulations Part 1910 (Occupational Safety and Health Standards).

Professional Geologist/Professional Engineer License

All work involving site assessments (UST closures), interpretations of subsurface geologic conditions, or preparation of corrective action plans or which requires detailed technical knowledge of site conditions must be performed by persons, firms, and corporations licensed by the North Carolina State Board of Professional Engineers or the North Carolina State Board of Licensed Geologists, as required under 15A NCAC 2L .0103(e). Reports associated with UST closures assessments including the title pages of the 20-Day Report and the Initial Abatement Action Report must display the seal and signature of the certified Professional Engineer or Licensed Geologist and the name and corporate certification number of the firm or corporation, as applicable.

Experience with the NC LUST Trust Fund

At a minimum, a NC-UST contractor should be able to assist a client in the leaking UST (LUST) eligibility application process and in the preparation of claims for cost recovery. In order to maximize cost recovery, the NC-UST contractor should be familiar with the most current NC LUST Reasonable Rate Document (RRD).

Assisting in the preparation NC Trust Fund eligibility documents allows clients to gain access to cleanup funds during all phases of investigation and cleanup activities. Once eligible, the NC-UST contractors should assist clients in cost recovery efforts through the preparation of NC Trust Fund Claim packages.

Experience with similar properties

The selected NC-UST contractor should have demonstrated experience in UST release investigations and cleanup activities. Some contractors specialize in residential USTs while other contractors may specialize in commercial UST work. The size and layout of an operation may not easily accommodate an environmental investigation and remediation activities, which must be kept in mind as a UST contractor plans their scope of work. A contractor who is experienced with coordinating between you and various subcontractors will provide you with the most effective and efficient means to accomplish the project goals.

Experience with the type of material contained in the tankBest UST Contractors in North Carolina

Regulatory requirements will require different investigation, closure sampling, and cleanup methods based upon the previous contents of the UST. Acquiring as much information as possible prior to the start of the investigation ensures that the methods used to remove a tank, investigate a release, or remediate a release can be identified prior to site mobilization in order to minimize potential costs to the UST owner.

A contractor needs to be knowledgeable of the various regulations and requirements for your specific situation. There are many nuances throughout North Carolina environmental regulations, and these regulations may require specific remediation activities based upon the material stored in your tank. It is essential your contractor is aware of these nuances so you can capture exactly the data that is necessary to progress your case.

Remediation Experience

Some UST closures and subsequent investigations of the release result in the need for additional groundwater and/or soil cleanup to satisfy regulatory requirements. A contractor which has a history of designing and implementing cleanup strategies resulting in ultimate site closure should be hired at the beginning of the process. Contractors with remediation experience will look to shorten cleanup times or will devise strategies during the investigative phase that will lower cleanup times and costs ultimately leading to site regulatory closure.

Insurance Coverage

Carrying various types of liability insurance protects the UST owner against damages to persons and entities not related to the company during the course of UST investigative and cleanup activities. EMS recommends employing the services of a UST contractor who carries the following insurance:

Worker’s Compensation

Worker’s compensation protects the UST contractor’s employees should they be injured while working on their client’s project.

Commercial Automobile Insurance

This insurance provides coverage in the event that the contractor’s vehicle damages persons or property while on site.

General/Professional/Pollution Liability Insurance

These liability insurances protect the client should that contractor’s negligence result in bodily injury or property damage as well as claims arising out of a professional error or a pollution situation.

Umbrella Liability

Umbrella Liability insurance helps to protect the client should a catastrophic situation arise where damages exceed the limits of the contractor’s primary insurance policies.

If a contractor cannot provide proof of one or more of these coverages, it may be time to consider a different contractor who can.

Responsiveness and reputation for closing UST projects

It is important to find a contractor who will work closely with the UST owner and regulatory agencies to commit to the fastest path towards regulatory closure of a UST release incident, whether it’s a commercial or residential property or a major oil company or a small business. It is not uncommon for UST cleanups to last many years—sometimes because a questionable contractor may perpetuate a project to keep that source of income. A good contractor will have a reputation for closing projects by navigating regulations, and this reputation often results in repeat work.

It may also be useful to ask your contractor about Risk Based Contamination Assessments (RCBAs) and ask for examples of successful completed projects.

The Best UST Contractors in North Carolina

AMEC Foster Wheeler

Founded (combined): 2014

NC Locations:  Asheville, Cary, Charlotte, Durham, Wilmington

AMEC Foster Wheeler provides services such as decommissioning, design and construction of new tanks, relocation of tanks and associated infrastructure, repair and refurbishment, seal replacement, and project management.

Cohesion, Inc.

NC Location: Raleigh

The professionals at Cohesion conduct field operations and regulatory compliance that is tailored to the needs of commercial storage tank owners. They also offer clients with LUSTs the co-payment cleanup option though NCDEQ’s LUST Trust Fund.

Duncklee & Dunham

Founded: 1996

NC Location: Cary

Duncklee & Dunham provide pre-site assessments, preparations for closure, oversight of closure, Limited and Comprehensive Site Assessments, Corrective Action Plans, and design of treatment systems.

Geological Resources, Inc.

Founded: 1971

NC Locations: Monroe, Winterville

Included in the repertoire of services at Geological Resources is drilling around UST components, soil sampling, tank removal, excavation, and proper disposal of tank and materials.

Hart & Hickman

Founded: 1995

NC Locations: Charlotte, Raleigh

The Hart & Hickman professionals can perform evaluations of regulatory requirements and negotiations, compliance records reviews, status assessments, hydrogeologic evaluations, groundwater modeling, regulatory tank assessments, closures, and removals, and risk assessments.

Mountain Environmental Services, Inc.

NC Location: Canton

Mountain Environmental can conduct characterization, removal, and disposal of liquid waste, tank cleaning, excavation, removal, proper disposal, soil sampling, and closure report preparation.

Pyramid Environmental and Engineering

Founded: 1990

NC Location: Greensboro

The experts at Pyramid provide tank inspection and testing services, removals, replacements, and upgrades of tanks, release investigations, site remediation, and cost reimbursements through the LUST Trust Fund.

Terraquest Environmental Consultants

NC Location: Mebane

Terraquest conducts closures of storage tanks containing petroleum products and also performs subsequent assessments and remediation of impacted soil and groundwater.

Selecting a UST Contractor

Now that you’ve gained some basic knowledge of the best UST contractors in North Carolina, consider the services your business needs to ensure you are making the decision that makes the most financial sense for your situation. Remember to consider these factors while making your decision:

  • Certifications, licenses, and insurance coverage held by the contractor
  • Experience with NC LUST Trust Fund
  • Remediation experience with similar properties and tank materials
  • Responsiveness and reputation for UST project closure

If you have questions or if you need help to formulate the most beneficial resolution for your situation, our professional geologists, engineers, technicians, and scientists are ready to help.


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To learn more about how EMS can help you with your UST needs, please reach out to us.


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For more information about underground storage tanks, check out our other articles!

How Do I Make a Claim for North Carolina Leaking Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Costs?

What is My Financial Responsibility for Owning an Underground Storage Tank in North Carolina?

Top 10 Causes of Underground Storage Tank Leaks

Understanding the Underground Storage Tank Removal Process

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