This question has already been asked, but in the previously asked question the tank was plastic and was sited outside. This one is metal and in a cellar its 6 ft. by 4 ft. by 4 ft. The kerosene/air flammable mix is the obvious question. The tank is as empty as possible, but there is about half an inch of residual sludge left in the bottom.

How can I cut up this tank and remove it?

  • Check with your local authorities. Depending on the volume of the tank you may not be able to remove it without permits.
    – longneck
    Nov 7 '13 at 19:49

Your biggest concern is gas concentration. You can't get ignition if the mix isn't there, so ventilate, ventilate, ventilate. Open windows, put fans in them, and have fans blowing on your work area.

A power tool is going to throw sparks, where a manual snip tool won't, so if you can cut through the metal with snips, do so. Slow, painful, but safe.

If not, then drain all the kerosine you can from the bottom, and then cut a hole in the side of the tank with as few cuts as possible (again, heavily ventilated, blowing air through the area and through the tank as well), and use that access to drain even more.

Finally once the sludge is removed, you should be safe to go ahead and cut it up with a reciprocating saw.

  • 2
    One painfully learned caution: Do not use any kind of vacuum cleaner to intake the fumes. The airflow passes by the motor and will ignite the fumes. (It is fine to use a vacuum cleaner's exhaust though.)
    – wallyk
    Nov 6 '13 at 17:10

If it's an option, you could completely fill the tank with water. That would purge any residual vapour from the tank.

After draining the tank and ventilating the basement to remove any vapour from it (use some hose to duct the tank vent outside if possible), you'd be able to cut up the tank without worrying about sparks ignighting vapour.

Note that (in the UK at least) the water will be considered contaminated waste and shouldn't be allowed to enter drains or watercourses. An unscrupulous person might be tempted to allow it to drain over an unused patch of garden and soak away, but that would be very questionable in terms of legality and we couldn't possibly advise that.

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