Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Underground petroleum storage systems

Underground petroleum storage systems (UPSS) in service stations can leak into the surrounding environment and contaminate groundwater. The EPA regulates the operation of  UPSS infrastructure in NSW and works with UPSS managers to ensure industry best practice is followed and human health and the environment are safeguarded.

Extension of EPA oversight for the Underground Petroleum Storage System Regulation until 31 August 2019

A notice appeared on the Government website on May 19 advising that the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 has been amended for the Environment Protection Authority to continue as the appropriate regulatory authority for any matter arising under the Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2014 (UPSS Regulation) up to and including 31 August 2019.
See http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/regulations/2017-190.pdf

The UPSS Regulation is scheduled to be remade in the lead up to 31 August 2019, after which the appropriate regulatory authority of a revised Regulation will pass to local government.

The period leading up to 31 August 2019, will see:

  • Co-ordinated consultation by the EPA on the UPSS Regulation to ensure regulators, industry and the public are better informed about obligations that the Regulation imposes.
  • Improved and expanded technical guidance to provide stakeholders with a clear understanding to improve environmental management at fuel storage and handling facilities.
  • The EPA working with councils to ensure integrated management and regulatory oversight of fuel handling and storage systems.
  • Opportunity for all stakeholders to consider more comprehensive changes to regulation and management at fuel handling and storage facilities to adapt to emerging fuel management technologies, business structures and environmental needs.

The EPA will have an ongoing role in managing UPSS issues after August 2019 and will continue to assist councils with the management of fuel storage sites and actively work to ensure improvements in industry performance.

Please direct any enquiries to the EPA on 131 555 or to UPSSReg@epa.nsw.gov.au

Management of runoff from forecourts

The EPA encourages the use of best practice water treatment technologies.

  • People responsible for site management and design must ensure that measures are in place to manage forecourt runoff and minimise environmental risk.
  • Operators and occupiers of premises must ensure that any discharge from a water treatment system meets legislative standards for the environment, including the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, and fulfils community expectations
Properly designed, installed and maintained water treatment technologies can protect and maintain the health of the environment. However, the EPA recognises that currently there is no commercially available forecourt water treatment technology that can guarantee pollution-free discharge.

The EPA is completing a forecourt water disposal technical note describing best practice management at service stations and similar sites. To comment on the draft once available, email upssreg@epa.nsw.gov.au.

More information on water pollution  

UPSS Regulation

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2014 (UPSS Regulation) was revised in September 2014 to clarify the statutory requirements for the management and operation of underground petroleum storage system (UPSS) infrastructure in NSW. UPSS Regulation 2014 remade, with some amendments, UPSS Regulation 2008.

The UPSS Regulation aims to ensure that UPSS management follows industry best practice to prevent land and groundwater contamination caused by leaking UPSS. The EPA is the appropriate regulatory authority for implementing the UPSS Regulation until June 2017. It is anticipated that local councils will resume broader regulatory roles under the Regulation after this date.

UPSS have the potential to leak, leading to expensive clean-up bills and damage to the environment. Persistent leaks can have a major impact on neighbouring properties and impose very significant costs on the tank owner and the broader community. The UPSS Regulation requires owners and operators to regularly check for leaks in the fuel tanks and pipes used to store and handle petroleum products. They also need to meet minimum standards in their day-to-day environmental management of these storage systems.

The UPSS Regulation was gazetted on 1 September 2014 and commenced on the same day and aims to:

  • introduce preventative measures to reduce harm to human health and the environment
  • save money and minimise time-consuming remediation by preventing leaks or dealing with them early
  • ensure industry best practice is followed
  • ensure appropriate validation and decommissioning of systems and sites.

Under the UPSS Regulation, it is against the law to allow or ignore contamination resulting from a leaking or faulty UPSS.

The person responsible for a UPSS (usually the owner/operator) is required to have in place:

  • a system for detecting and monitoring leaks
  • groundwater monitoring wells at sensitive locations and a program to test them
  • an Environment Protection Plan for the facility
  • systems in place for record keeping, reporting of leaks and notifying the local council when a UPSS is decommissioned.

Implementing the UPSS Regulation

The UPSS Regulation was revised in September 2014 to clarify the statutory requirements for the management and operation of underground petroleum storage system (UPSS) infrastructure in NSW. The EPA is the appropriate regulatory authority for the implementation of the Regulation to June 2017. It is anticipated that councils will assume broader regulatory roles under the Regulation after this date.

Amended requirements in the UPSS Regulation 2014 that apply to daily operations include:

  • Provided it is accessible from the site, Environment Protection Plans may be held either electronically or in hardcopy form either as a dedicated document or as part of other site management procedures.
  • The Environment Protection Plans must now include a drainage services diagram in site documentation.

Operators may

  • Use a loss monitoring procedure designed to take into account particular site characteristics and usage patterns of the storage system on condition that it provides environmental protection and has been designed and documented by a duly qualified person.
  • Use alternatives to groundwater wells as a secondary leak detection system provided the alternative system is designed and documented by a duly qualified person. Where groundwater monitoring wells are installed they must be monitored in accordance with EPA requirements.

UPSS Guidelines

To assist those responsible for UPSS to understand and comply with the Regulation, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has prepared the guidelines below.

Download

Exemptions from the UPSS Regulation

Some operators may be exempted from meeting certain requirements of the Regulation: see the Exemptions from the UPSS Regulation page for more details.

Need to find out more?

Phone Environment Line on 131 555 (toll free in NSW) or (02) 9995 5555.
Email: UPSSREG@epa.nsw.gov.au

Page last updated: 16 June 2017