Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

New spills and leaks guide for underground fuel tanks

Media release: 2 September 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has published an environmental incident prevention and management guide to help service station owners and operators check for leaks and clean up fuel spills. 

Independent service stations in the Tweed region have been among the first in NSW to receive the guides this week, with more to be distributed in the coming months.

If not checked regularly underground fuel tanks have the potential to leak, which can impact on the environment and lead to expensive clean-up bills for business owners. Persistent leaks need to be managed promptly to avoid significant environmental damage, including impacts to underground water sources.

Service station owners are required to cover the cost of the clean-up from leaking fuel tanks, which can often run into the millions of dollars. This not only impacts on the bottom line of many small businesses but it can also lead to a reduction in land value and limit future development opportunities in a local government area.

NSW EPA Executive Director of Hazardous Incidents and Environmental Health Sarah Gardner said while many major fuel companies have developed their own guides for dealing with leaks and spills, small, rural and independent retailers do not always have access to this information in an easily accessible form.

“This guide will help the smaller operators ensure they are following best practice on a day to day basis, as well as step them through the clean-up requirements when a spill occurs or a leak is identified”

The new guide features best practice information for preventing incidents, dealing with spills, clean-up procedures, leak investigations, and regular system maintenance and checks. 

“Local operators are the first on-scene decision makers if there are fuel leaks and spills so this guide has been designed to provide them with all the information they need in one handy guide,” Mrs Gardner said.

Owner of the Crabbes Creek General Store in the Tweed Shire, Mr Shane Vincent said the guide will be good to have on hand when he does his regular checks. 

“The EPA guide is really easy to understand, it has all the information you need about how to handle and store fuel safely and steps you through what to do in the event of a spill or leak,” he said.

Local businessman from Liberty Fuels Murwillumbah, Mr Timothy Candy said it is helpful to have all the information in the one document onsite.

Under the Underground Petroleum Storage System Regulation owners and operators are required to regularly check for leaks in the fuel tanks and pipes used to store and handle fuel as part of their day-to-day monitoring and maintenance work. Any leaks or spills should be reported to the EPA immediately.  

This guide has been developed by the EPA through the Contaminated Land Management Program, funded by the Environmental Trust.

For more information about underground fuel tanks and to download a copy of the guide visit:

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 02 September 2016