Delicate removal of buried fuel tanks


Given the ownership history of the plot, the oil industry group responsible did not question their liability for this oversight. Although its insurer did send in Stelliant loss adjusters, it was primarily to optimise the cost of removing the fuel tanks and restoring the plot to a usable condition, as well as to manage any associated risks (pollution). An excellent service was provided by Stelliant loss adjusters, with the aim of securing an amicable solution. 

How Stelliant proceeded

Because the oil company immediately agreed to remove the fuel tanks at its own expense, there was no need to examine the sale contract (liability clauses, terms and conditions for the acquisition/transfer of the plot). Stelliant’s work therefore focused on: Determining the optimal solution, in terms of cost, for the excavation and removal of the fuel tanks, their transportation to a site where they could be dismantled, and restoration of the property where they were found. The Stelliant loss adjuster travelled to the site to carry out their assignment. They assessed the deconstruction/reconstruction methods most suitable in this context, to avoid the risk of causing further damage. If a terrace, swimming pool, or building were found nearby, underpinning work would be required when extracting the buried fuel tanks. 

The loss adjuster’s work on-site enabled the best possible alternative to be identified and costed. The loss adjuster drew on their skills in diplomacy to play the role of mediator between the different stakeholders involved, in order to come to a satisfactory arrangement. In light of the products involved (hydrocarbons), the owner’s insurer issued an assumption of ground pollution and wanted to carry out testing following removal of the fuel tanks. The Stelliant environment and pollution loss adjuster kept a close eye on the claim, until they received confirmation that no pollution had been found. Indeed, before selling the land, the oil company had, extremely fortunately, drained, degassed, and cleaned the buried fuel tanks. 

Stelliant’s work concluded with the parties signing an agreement protocol and a waiver of any future claims. The owner can once again use their restored property. As for the former service station operator’s insurer, they paid out fair compensation for third party damages. If any pollution had been found, Stelliant would have been able to oversee management of this highly technical associated risk. Our environment and pollution loss adjuster would have enlisted specialist depollution engineers from its network of trusted service providers. The resulting analysis would have enabled the loss adjuster to: 

  • Assess the ground and the pollutants, i.e. different kinds of hydrocarbons (kerosene, tarmac or polychlorinated biphenyls, a highly toxic compound). 
  • Determine the severity of the pollution (concentration in ground). 
  • Assess the scope of any transfer of pollutants into the environment. 

Drawing on their expert legal, technical, and regulatory knowledge of depollution, Stelliant’s geologist loss adjuster would have acted as a moderator between the oil company’s insurer and the company tasked with decontaminating the site. Their aim? To strike the right balance between sufficient depollution and streamlined costs.