Our Team

In order to provide you with further information, our blog writers contribute here weekly to answer any additional questions you may have. Click on a blog title to view its content.

Oil Tank Removals

In my first post of the Oil Tank Removal Cost series, we covered the top two details needed to help determine the cost for your underground oil tank removal. After we’ve established the property’s location in our service area, and the oil tank’s location on the property, I will try to gather more of the following details:

3. Do you know the size of the oil tank?
For most residential properties with underground oil tanks, the most common sizes we encounter during oil tank removals are either 290-gallon, 550-gallon, or 1,000-gallon oil tank sizes. These sizes refer to the gallon capacity of the oil tank. We have a general framework of cost in place for the process of removing an oil tank of one of these sizes. If the oil tank is a much larger gallon capacity, such as a 2,000-gallon, or even a 4,000-gallon size, we would need to evaluate the resources needed to complete the oil tank removal efficiently and compile the cost estimate accordingly.

4. Do you know the contents inside the oil tank?
The contents of the oil tank can vary, although naturally, the most common content is oil! Specifically, residential underground heating oil tanks use #2 heating oil. When we prepare for an oil tank removal that still has oil inside it, we will send a technician to the property ahead of time to dip the oil tank’s fill port and attempt to measure the approximate amount of liquid inside the tank. Then on the day of the oil tank removal, we come prepared with either a vacuum truck or 55-gallon drums to containerize the oil, depending on how much oil is inside the tank at that time. The oil is then transported to the appropriate disposal facility.

The second most common material that we encounter inside an underground heating oil tank is sand. Up until about 10 years ago, a popular option with homeowners was to decommission their underground heating oil tank, instead of removing it altogether. This is also known as a “tank abandonment.” Typically, when an oil tank is abandoned in place, the oil is removed from the tank, cut open, filled in with sand, and then covered back up with soil to grade level. When we remove an oil tank that has been filled in with sand, we remove the sand contents first and transport it to an appropriate disposal facility.

Knowing the size and contents of your underground heating oil tank up front i is helpful to both provide you with a more accurate cost estimate, and to allow us to prepare to remove your underground heating oil tank efficiently.

In the next post of the Oil Tank Removal Cost series, I’ll address examples of site-specific factors that can have an impact the oil tank removal procedure.

For more information, view our page on oil tank removals.

Until next time 😊 Laura

As an environmental contractor, a major aspect of Renova’s business is removing oil tanks. For many people, though, the reason why we remove oil tanks may not be clear. The first thing a homeowner should understand about oil tanks, is that you may not even know that you have one, especially when it is an underground oil tanks, or UST. These underground oil tanks exist for the purpose of heating a home, but it is important to understand that they have a limited life span, and can become prone to leaking, which can be a headache for a homeowner.

For homeowners who are unaware as to whether or not they have a underground oil tank, or the location of the underground oil tank, we can help with a process known as a “magscan”, also known as an oil tank sweep. Once we identify whether or not an underground oil tank is present, we then use a tile probe to define the orientation of the tank, and mark it with flags or paint. Sometimes underground oil tanks are decommissioned, and no longer contain oil, so if you are unsure, we can identify the oil tanks contents by opening the fill port, and stick tank to determine the contents.

An obvious indicator that the underground oil tank should be removed, is if the oil tank is leaking oil. We identify a leaking underground oil tank by using a hand auger (or geoprobe) to advance borings on sides of the oil tank to examine the soil. If the soil extracted from the boring has a petroleum odor, petroleum staining, or PID readings, that is an indication of a release. If the tank did not leak, there should be no indication of a release in the soil extracted from the boring location.

So, if you are unsure if you have an oil tank, give Renova a call, and we will provide you with the expert knowledge needed to solve your problem.

For more information, view our page on oil tank removals.

Written by Mick Gutchigian – May 20, 2019

The Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Remediation, Upgrade and Closure Fund (UST Fund) was a New Jersey program that existed to provide funding for homeowners for oil tank removals since 1997. This made handling oil tank removal costs much easier for NJ homeowners. As of a few years ago, though, the fund reached an end. So with this update coming from the state, it is important that people are aware of a few points:

  • If I recently discovered an oil tank, can I still submit an application to the UST Fund?

    Yes, although the applications will not be reviewed or processed, due to insufficient funds. This may seem confusing, in that you can submit an application, but all they will do is time stamp it, and hold it in queue. If funds become available one day, they will issue funding to applicants in the order of the queue. The UST Fund will only accept new applications for newly discovered oil tanks, if the owner reports submits the application within 18 months from the date of discovery.


  • What if my UST Fund application has already been approved?

    If you have received approval in the past, but are now worried about whether or not you will receive the funding, you don’t have to worry, as your funds have been reserved, and the state will assist your oil tank removal cost.


  • What if I need additional funding beyond what has been already approved, due to cost increases?

    In this case where the oil tank removal cost has to increase, the applicant must submit a “Supplemental Funding Request”, and they will be accepted, reviewed, and processed, as long as sufficient funding is available in the UST Fund. The updates regarding the UST Fund have no effect on this.


  • What does the future look like for the UST Fund?

    The UST Fund is allotted a certain amount of funding each fiscal year, and these amounts vary with certain tax revenues collected by the state. The NJ Department of Environmental Protection and the NJ Economic Development Authority are working on legislative initiatives to more effectively utilize these limited funds, although they cannot guarantee any increases in funds given to homeowners in need of oil tank removals.
In addition, it is important to know to as of May, 2011 the UST Fund will no longer accept any applications for non-leaking oil tanks.

For more information, click here to view the UST Fund website. You may also call them at 609-984-2076.

For other information, view our page on oil tank removals. Written by Matt Vetter – June 14, 2019

Remediation

Renova’s core competency is as an environmental remediation contractor. Environmental remediation is defined as the cleanup of pollutants from environmental media, including soil, sediment, groundwater, and surface water. In addition, a remediation project can be done in a number of different ways.

Remedial Methods Overview:

Excavation:

Renova is most adept at soil remediation via the excavation and disposal of contaminated soil. For the majority of sites, it is the most effective method for soil remediation. Soil that is determined to be contaminated is removed from the site and transported for offsite disposal. Following the removal of contaminated soil, the area is backfilled with certified clean soil.

Thermal Desorption:

Thermal desorption is the process of heating up the subsurface in order to mobilize/volatize contaminants, which are then extracted. In a typical case, contaminated soil is heated by thermal conduction from heated metal pipes installed within the contaminated area. An extraction system will then remove the contaminants and vapors from the ground. From there, the collected vapors and fluid are separated, treated, and discharged.

Chemical Oxidation:

In-Situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO) remediation involves the treatment of soil and/or groundwater through the introduction of chemical oxidants which destroy contaminants. Strong chemical oxidants are either mixed into the soil or injected into the contaminated area. ISCO is most commonly used to treat organic compound contamination.

Pump & Treat:

“Pump and Treat” remediation is the most common method of groundwater remediation utilized here at Renova. Contaminated groundwater is removed from the subsurface and then pumped through a treatment system which removes any contaminants.

New Remediation Advancements:

Bioremediation is a quickly advancing alternative remediation approach, with a wide variety of remedial strategies. Microbial remediation is of the most widely used and well-studied approach; bacteria, fungi, or algae are used to degrade hydrocarbon contamination. Another quickly developing bioremediation method is phytoremediation, which utilizes plants to remove contaminants from soil, water, or the air. Of recent note is the use of sunflowers planted near the area of contamination surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in order to absorb radioactive heavy metals.

Written by Ryan Bilgrav – February 15, 2019

The environmental remediation landscape in New Jersey is one of constant change. The means and methods, clean-up standards, and the way the NJDEP manages contaminated sites have evolved over the last ten years. I entered into the environmental world as a young scientist in 2009 straight out of college with very little understanding of the field. Since that time, I have worked for four amazing companies, finally landing at Renova in 2018, and throughout my career, I was able to witness many of these changes happen in our industry.

For example, probably the largest change in the environmental landscape in New Jersey over the last ten years has been the adoption of the Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP). An LSRP is an experienced environmental professional who is licensed by the State of New Jersey to oversee environmental investigations and remedial actions in accordance with applicable rules and regulations. The LSRP program has streamlined site remediations across the state of New Jersey, allowing individual sites to get immediate and continued attention from the time the case is opened to the issuance of a Response Action Outcome.

As an environmental contractor, this has both positive and negative impacts. On the positive side it allows for decisions to be made on the fly during the remedial action phase without waiting for approval from the NJDEP. It also has vastly improved coordination between contractors, clients, and consultants involved on jobs. The adoption of the LSRP has had some negative aspects as well. Unfortunately, no two LSRPs are alike and often what was allowed on one site may not be allowed on another. This often leads to a situation where the planned execution for a job needs to be completely rehashed to satisfy the differing views of the LSRP.

Overall the adoption of the LSRP program has been a great success. The streamlining of the entire cleanup process has benefited clients, consultants, contractors, and the NJDEP. Without the implementation of this new program, many of the most successful cleanup projects in New Jersey would have not been possible.

Written by Matthew Vetter – April 19, 2019

Soil samples are collected by Renova daily and analyzed for several reasons:

  • To determine if an existing underground storage tank (UST) or above ground storage tank (AST) is leaking
  • To determine if a former underground oil tank or above ground oil tank was leaking prior to its removal
  • To determine if a decommissioned underground oil tank or above ground oil tank was leaking prior to its abandonment
  • To determine the vertical/horizontal limits of a contaminated area
  • To determine if contamination exists on a site with unknown environmental history
  • To determine if soil remediation of a contaminated area was successful
  • To determine the classification of a waste to ensure proper disposal

The analytical results of a soil sample give Renova information regarding the site’s current environmental condition, and rationale for next steps that may be needed. Proper collection and care of soil samples is imperative in order for the results to be accurate, reproducible, and accepted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

To collect a soil sample, the appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) must be utilized. Chemical-resistant nitrile gloves are worn to protect scientists’ hands from possibly hazardous substances in soil. In addition to nitrile gloves, Renova wears high-visibility apparel, eye protection, safety-toe work boots, long pants, and a hard hat during soil sample collection.

Soils are first screened with a photoionization detector (PID) to determine relative volatile organic compound (VOC) content, which guides Renova toward more heavily contaminated areas. Soil samples are collected and placed directly into clean, laboratory-provided bottleware. Depending on the contaminant(s) of concern, different volumes of soil may be required for the lab’s analysis needs. Gloves are disposed of and new ones are worn between handling each individual sample, to reduce cross-contamination. The date and time of sample collection is recorded, as well as the depth of soil at which the sample was collected, the site address/location, and the PID reading from the initial screening. This information is included on Renova’s field sheets to make sure each soil sample is properly identified. The exact location of each soil sample is measured based on surrounding site features and noted on a site map.

Once all samples are collected, bottles are placed on ice for preservation until the laboratory picks them up from Renova. Ice preservation ensures lab analyses are accurate for each contaminant of concern; elevated sample temperatures can skew results. A Chain of Custody (COC) form is completed for each sample group, including the same information as included on the field sheet and more, and accompanies the samples to the lab. The COC remains with the samples throughout their transportation, and requires each individual or company who handles them to sign indicating the date and time of their receipt/relinquishment of the samples.

Upon completion of lab analysis, results are submitted to Renova and we review the data to determine if: soil remediation is required at the site; an oil tank removal is required at the site; the site is confirmed clean and a No Further Action (NFA) letter may be requested from the NJDEP; or additional soil sampling is required at the site, among other conclusions.

Careful and correct collection of soil samples produce most accurate results. Renova utilizes the data obtained from soil sample collection to best serve our clients and bring environmental projects to completion as quickly, effectively, and professionally as possible. Renova’s scientists and Project Managers are available to discuss your environmental service needs, and are happy to develop a soil sampling program applicable for your site!

Written by Alessandra Looman – May 31, 2019

Soil Sampling
XRF display
Sample result

One of the many challenges associated with site remediation and soil sampling is the ability to know, in real time, when you have removed enough soil to satisfy regulatory requirements, or to make sure that all remaining soils are below applicable standards. For most of Renova’s jobs that involve heating oil, gasoline, or other fuels or contaminants that release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), our scientists use a device called a Photoionization Detector (PID) to screen soils in the field. While the PID is undoubtedly a useful tool, it can only provide a measurement of the total VOCs and will not provide a specific compound breakdown nor give a laboratory result of the compounds of interest. Therefore, the PID is only used to give a relatively qualitative indication of how contaminated the sample is. Below, you can see one of our Staff Environmental Engineers, Lindsay, using a PID in the field to evaluate soil that has been contaminated with marine diesel fuel. After screening with the PID, this soil will be sent to a laboratory for analysis, which can take anywhere from one day to three weeks depending on the analysis that is completed.



Renova recently acquired a new device that allows us to conduct laboratory-grade assessments in the field to evaluate soils that are contaminated with lead and other metals, increasing the range of soil remediation jobs we can do. This device, a handheld X-ray Fluorescence analyzer or XRF, uses x-ray beams to detect elemental compositions of soil and other objects. Below you can see our Project Scientist, Ryan, happily demonstrating the use of the XRF at our office.



The XRF has numerous useful applications in many different industries including detecting toxic heavy metals in consumer products, analyzing historic art and archaeological artifacts, positive identification of metals and metal alloys in jewelry, and even “chasing” gold and silver ores for more efficient and accurate mining. As for Renova, we will be primarily using the XRF to evaluate soils that are impacted with lead in order to conduct remediation at properties with lead contamination. Shallow lead contamination can be common around the perimeter of historic buildings due to lead paint peeling and chipping over time. Since there is no accurate observational method of detecting lead contamination in the soil (i.e. you cannot see it or smell it, it does not give off any detectable vapors, etc.) this device will allow us to analyze the concentration of lead in a given soil sample so that real-time decisions can be made, for example, if an excavation needs to be further expanded.

A soil sample is simply collected into a container and the nose of the XRF is pointed at the sample in the field, focusing the x-ray beams on the soil. After approximately 30 seconds, the XRF provides an output with the elements of interest listed along with the concentrations identified in the sample (measured in parts per million, or ppm). The photo below shows you an example output on our XRF screen, providing data for four common metal contaminants: Arsenic (As), Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd), and Selenium (Se). Our XRF can detect any element between Magnesium and Uranium on the periodic table – a total of 81 elements!



Rather than waiting two weeks for the laboratory to complete a metals analysis, we can analyze a sample in the field and make determinations within minutes, saving the client both time and the expense of costly laboratory analyses. Renova will be using the XRF at several upcoming jobs with lead contamination from paint and lead ammunition, and we are excited for other future applications with this valuable piece of equipment.

Written by Kelly Giles – June 12, 2019

More About Renova

There’s no doubt about Renova’s expertise when it comes to heating oil tank removals, site remediation, soil and groundwater testing and treatment, but occasionally, we get confronted with a project without contamination concerns.

In March and April of 2018, Renova was hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide environmental and marine construction services to save Bird Island. The one-acre, flood- and erosion-devastated island is the nesting habitat of one of the largest populations of federally endangered Roseate Terns in the country.

Located in Buzzards Bay off the coast of Marion, Massachusetts, Bird Island experienced significant flooding and erosion after Hurricane Sandy, removing a large portion of the very specific sand blend the terns use for their annual nesting. The terns nest by burrowing down into the sand creating a small divot, and lay their eggs there. Due to the shallower water table after the storm, these divots would fill up with water, drowning the eggs and further endangering the species. Projects by other organizations in the past attempted to mitigate these issues, but the island needed more help.

This is where Renova comes in. Using a barge, our job was to bring over a total of 1,873 tons (or 3,746,000 lbs) of a specially developed sand blend to reinforce the natural infrastructure of the terns’ habitat.

Roseate Tern
Sand

Since Bird Island is so small, with the only real structure being the historic Bird Island Light, there is no access to the island other than an old wooden pier. Accordingly, part of our job was to construct a ramp in the bay to support the heavy machinery needed to transport the new material. We mobilized to the site excited and prepared to get started with the ramp, until we encountered a minefield of boulders sitting precisely where it, and Renova’s barge, were supposed to sit. If not removed, the boulders would have punctured our barge, literally sinking the entire operation. Renova ended up spending an unanticipated additional 14 days removing the boulders before beginning ramp construction.

A crucial point to note about this job is its schedule. We had a hard deadline for completion: the day the terns return to Bird Island after spending the winter in warmer climates. To make that happen, Renova worked overtime through all weekends and only took days off if the wind or waves were too severe for the barge to function safely. We were understanding of the weekend work, knowing the complex task at hand and quickly approaching deadline; the truly challenging part to get used to was working with the tides.

Since the work was being completed from the barge in close proximity to Bird Island’s shore, we had to maintain a minimum depth of water beneath us or our barge would beach itself until the tide returned. To prevent this, we were only able to work during the high tide times. Calculating for high tides meant our shifts would begin at a different hour each day, and at odd start times, such as 2:00 PM or 2:00 AM and everything in between.

Building the Ramp
Night Shifts

Once all of the boulders were removed we were able to construct the ramp. The ramp was made of concrete blocks sitting on the bay floor and filled in with stone to provide a solid surface for our machines to get onto Bird Island. Our loaders traversed that ramp countless times until all 3.7 million pounds of the special sand was stockpiled on the island.

As we made significant progress spreading the stockpiled material, we began to notice the results of our labor. The terns started to return to their island at a faster pace than we could have imagined! By the time we finished the island looked beautiful and the Army Corps was more than satisfied with our work.

The Bird Island job was unlike any project Renova had ever done; the opportunity to protect an endangered species was definitely new and interesting. Although it was grueling at times, we were able to persevere and get the job done against oftentimes adamant opposition. I like to think that the birds were our real client, as opposed to the Army Corps, because they are the true benefactors of our labor. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to such a unique and meaningful project and look forward to the next new experience!

Sunset
Bird Island Lighthouse

Written by Alessandra Looman – April 17, 2019

As an environmental contractor, Renova is mostly known for our work performing oil tank removals, site remediations, soil sampling, and other work related to environmental cleanups. However, occasionally we get a project that is a bit outside of our routine services and challenges us to perform work that wouldn’t normally be considered under the umbrella of environmental services. In the summer of 2016, Renova completed work on a contract for the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to decommission monitoring wells that had been installed throughout Floyd Bennett Field, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area in Brooklyn, New York. The wells were previously installed by a separate contractor to monitor groundwater throughout an area of petroleum contamination. As part of the petroleum spill, multiple historic buildings, dating to the early 1900’s, had to be demolished to remove the contaminated soil underneath.

To pay tribute to these buildings and the important role they played during Floyd Bennett Field’s time as a Naval Air Base during WWII, Renova’s contract with USACE was extended to create an exterior wayside exhibit that would inform the public about the area’s historic past. After researching the history of Floyd Bennett Field, we were tasked with designing, constructing, and installing a trailside exhibit that is pictured below and can be found today as you walk around the park. In addition to the exterior sign, we designed and installed a three-sided interior exhibit, also pictured below, for park guests to learn more about Floyd Bennett Field’s many uses throughout time. As an enthusiast of national parks, history, and graphic design, this project ended up being right up my alley and I was grateful for the opportunity to integrate some of my personal interests into my work.

Snow
Forest


Written by Kelly Giles – February 21, 2019

Safety glasses: All in favor say “Eye!”

The concept of safety should generally be a no brainer – people, of course, want to be and stay safe! In the construction industry, following safety measures is extremely important because of all of the moving parts on a job site. With remediation sites containing large operating machines, heavy equipment, trenches, oil tanks and power tools, there is a lot to keep track of. Fortunately, there are several guidelines laid out by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) program, which provides regulations for worker’s safety and health protection. It’s crucial for construction and environmental remediation companies to reference these guidelines and adopt a safety program that fits their particular trade.

Renova believes in fostering a culture of safety, where employees are motivated to act safely and encourage others to do the same. At Renova, safety is the number one priority and because of this value, an extensive Health and Safety Program has been established. Renova has a 100-page Health and Safety manual given to each employee upon hire outlining all safety procedures. Companywide safety training for both field workers and office personnel are held every quarter where a safety consultant talks about various topics such as Trenching and Excavations, Fall Protection and Tool Box Talks, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Not only are these informational sessions valuable but it also allows an opportunity for office and field personnel to come together to collaborate on the topic of safety. Additionally, management always make a point to keep safety at top of mind.

Having worked at Renova for over 10 years, I take pride in being a part of a company where my coworker’s, our customer’s, and my own safety is so highly valued.

Safety

Written by Kristin Scicutella – April 26, 2019

At Renova, our work serves families, communities, and the environment, primarily through our work in oil tank removals and soil remediation. In addition to this, one of Renova’s Core Values is sustainability, and our work uses the best practices to promote green and sustainable solutions.

One small, fun project in which we apply this core value, has been the installation of a vertical hydroponic vegetable garden in our office.

Vertical Garden


Hydroponics is defined as, “the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil.” Our system consists of four rectangular “towers” in which leafy greens and herbs are planted. The towers are held in place by an upper and lower gutter. The lower gutter serves as a sump for the system and holds the water and nutrient solution for the plants. The upper gutter contains the housing for the plumbing and drippers. Water is pumped from the lower gutter to the upper gutter, where it then drips down the towers, watering the plants and supplying nutrients. Since our system is indoors at our office, we also have grow lights in order to promote healthy plant growth.

A hydroponic system uses 90% less water than traditional gardening, there’s no need for harsher pesticides, and there is also a reduction in the amount of fertilizer and pesticides introduced into the environment.

Maintaining the hydroponic garden has come with a few complications and has had a bit of a learning curve. There is no soil like a traditional garden, so water has to be adjusted for ideal growing conditions. The pH of the water, total dissolved solids/nutrients, water flow, and artificial light intensity/duration all must be regulated. After some trial and error and some help from our friends at Kula Urban Farm in Asbury Park, we seem to have finally figured it out! We have grown everything from spinach, dill, parsley, basil, and various lettuce mixes.

This project has been a lot of fun for us, and it has been a productive way for us to hold ourselves to our own sustainable values.

Written by Ryan Bilgrav – June 3, 2019

Alex Perez, 8, and his mom, Frances, attended the June 29, 2019 Trenton Thunder baseball game against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats courtesy of tickets donated by Renova Environmental Services. Alex has been attending Trenton Thunder games since he was a one-year old and he plays baseball for the Ewing Little League and the Ewing All Stars at left and right field as well as second base! Although the Trenton Thunder lost the game, Alex had a blast; of course he did, it’s his favorite sport! His favorite parts of the night included being on the field, meeting the players, and getting to say, “Play ball”! We at Renova are so happy you had fun, Alex!

Alex at Trenton Thunder
Alex at Trenton Thunder

Written by Patrice Lavanture – July 27, 2019

We at Renova are proud to announce that we are officially registered as a sponsor for the 2019 Woodard & Curran Foundation Annual Golf Outing. This event is held to raise funds for Woodard & Curran Foundation, a charitable organization that addresses environmental stewardship and education. It is set to be held at the Peddie Golf Club in Hightstown, New Jersey on September 30th.

Woodard & Curran began their commitment to charity in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and since then, they have proven themselves to be a leader in sustainable values, by funding organizations that help the world. Some of their notable contributions include donations to:

  • Engineers Without Borders, that provided a water treatment solution in the Honduras
  • Emory University’s Urban Health Initiative, that provided a sustainability education outreach to low-income areas in Atlanta
  • Mount Washington Observatory, that was able to upgrade their remote weather stations in order to collect more data that’s invaluable to STEM research
  • And many more!

  • Annual Golf Outing


    Golf Course

    We applaud and are excited to contribute to Woodard & Curran Foundation, as sustainability is one of Renova’s primary values. By sponsoring this event, we are helping the Foundation to contribute to more organizations and make positive changes in the world.

    Written by Drew DeCaro – September 26, 2019