Fuel tanks of any kind must be absolutely empty before you attempt to recycle or dispose of them.  Scrap metal companies and landfills require you to demonstrate that the tanks are empty by cutting them apart. Use caution before you do any cutting or drilling and always get professional advice

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Grand Rapids Field Office, (616) 356-0500
Environmental Assistance Hotline, 1-800-662-9278

According to the MDEQ, the following steps are required for either underground or above ground storage tanks that have been out of service for more than 12 months or will not be used again:

  1. Empty the tank, and empty and cap pipes.  Many homeowners have the heating oil company from which they purchased the oil also pump the tank.
  2. Have the tank professionally cleaned before removal.  There are usually tank cleaning firms listed in the yellow pages of most telephone books under “tank cleaning” and “environmental and ecological services.”
  3. Contact the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Grand Rapids office (above) to see if any permits are required for tank excavating.
  4. Remove the pipes and tank unless removing them would threaten the structural integrity of a nearby building.  If the underground storage tank cannot be removed, it must be filled with an inert material (sand, gravel or cement) before closing in place.  Above ground storage tanks can be left in place if the tank is safeguarded against trespassing and the filling portals locked to prevent trespassing.
  5. Heating oil tanks located in basements must have the fill pipe “blind flanged” (a solid disk inserted at a pipe joint) to prevent heating oil from being mistakenly pumped into the basement if the tank was removed.
  6. A site assessment must be performed in accordance with Section 2.6.5 of Part 2 of the FL/CL Rules for underground heating oil tanks of 1,100 gallons or more.  A site assessment is recommended for tanks less than 1,100 gallons.

Disposal: You must be able to show that there is no sludge or residue inside the tank.  Most scrap metal dealers and disposal sites will require you to cut the tank in half.