Heating oil, a refined petroleum product also known as No. 2 fuel oil, was a popular home heating source in Carrboro for decades until it was displaced by natural gas and electricity later in the 20th century. The tanks that stored the oil were either above or below ground. As these systems were replaced, often the underground tanks were removed or properly abandoned, but on occasion, they haven't been. In this scenario, the tanks were not drained at the end of their period of use; the remaining oil can escape ((or could have escaped), resulting in a serious environmental and public health risk.
It's important for Carrboro homeowners with older homes especially to understand the issues and potential and significant liability around legacy underground tanks, and proactively address these issues. Mecklenburg County has good information for citizens on home heating oil tanks, including how to know if your home has or has had a home heating oil underground storage tank, and what to do in the event this is true. The North Carolina Divsion of Waste Management (DWM) Underground Storage Tank Section is the agency that regulates these tanks; they have created an FAQ page to provide clear information on the regulation of these tanks and their proper abandonment. Note that in Carrboro it is the DWM Raleigh Regional Office that serves Carrboro.