Protecting environment with underground fuel storage inspections

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is partnering with Kempsey Shire Council to carry out inspections of underground fuel storage systems (UPSS) across the Macleay Valley.

The inspections will take place at service stations, marina’s, bus depots and industrial sites in April 2017.

EPA Executive Director Hazardous Incidents and Environmental Health Sarah Gardner said Officers would be looking to see that premises have the right processes and equipment in place to monitor and respond to fuel leaks. 

“Poor practices associated with the storage and handling of fuel are the biggest source of contaminated land in NSW,” Ms Gardner said.

“Not only does it pose a risk to the community’s health, the clean-up of sites contaminated by fuel can be costly to small business owners.

“Depending on the extent of the contamination, clean-up costs can run into the millions of dollars with the value and development opportunities of the land also decreasing”.
Kempsey Shire Council’s Manager of Regulatory Compliance, Ken Ward, said the collaboration with the EPA presents an opportunity to protect residents by assisting local businesses with their environmental compliances while preparing Council for the role of appropriate regulatory authority for UPSS in the near future.

“At Kempsey Shire Council we are dedicated to protecting the health of our local community and the local environment in which they live,” Mr Ward said.

“The poor storage and handling of fuel can have serious consequences on both health and the environment so regular inspections of underground fuel storage systems are essential.

“By attending these inspections with the EPA, Kempsey Shire Council staff will be acquiring worthwhile knowledge in UPSS for the transfer of the regulation to Council in the near future.”

The EPA has focussed on the effective management and early detection of leaks in UPSS since 2008. In 2014, changes were introduced to provide business with more flexibility in meeting environmental requirements; for example, using alternatives to groundwater monitoring wells as a secondary leak detection system.

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