Community feedback invited for new regulation on underground fuel tanks

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is inviting feedback on proposed changes to the regulation of Underground Petroleum Storage Systems (UPSS), or underground fuel tanks, found in places where fuel is stored or used such as at service stations, marinas, work depots, golf courses, airports, car dealerships and certain government facilities.

The current UPSS Regulation has been in force for 10 years and has resulted in significant environmental improvements thanks to the introduction of minimum standards for the design, operation, maintenance and monitoring of Underground Petroleum Storage Systems to help prevent leaks and, when leaks do occur, detect them earlier.

Changes to the regulation are intended to retain the focus of preventing leaks which can have serious impacts on the environment and the community, while updating to reflect industry best practice. The current UPSS Regulation was designed to be in place for 5 years and it needs to be remade by 1 September 2019.

EPA Director Contaminated Land Management Arminda Ryan said the regulation needed to be remade to ensure that high standards of UPSS management and monitoring continues and the environment continues to be protected from petroleum leaks.

“Leaks from underground tanks are hard to detect, can have significant impacts on the environment and human health and are costly to fix. The new Regulation will still require best practice design, installation and ongoing maintenance and monitoring of UPSS to help prevent and ensure early detection of leaks.” Ms Ryan said.

“The new UPSS Regulation will more clearly articulate the legal requirements for operators of UPSS and make it as easy as possible for councils to determine which UPSS in their local government area are compliant with the regulation.”

The update coincides with local councils becoming the regulatory authority for most UPSS from 1 September. The Regulation is being remade to streamline and simplify its requirements and acknowledge the shared regulatory role between the EPA and councils for UPSS sites. A raft of training and workshop programs have been rolled out to assist with this transition, and the EPA will continue to support councils.

The EPA will retain responsibility for regulating UPSS sites operated by public authorities, those in unincorporated areas of the state and those with an EPA licence. The EPA will also remain responsible for those UPSS where there are outstanding contamination issues to be addressed.

The EPA is consulting on the draft UPSS Regulation 2019 and seeking submissions from the community, key stakeholders and any other interested groups.

Feedback can be provided through the EPA consultation portal at https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/draft-upss-regulation-2019 from 17 May 2019 until 14 June 2019. A summary of feedback received in submissions will be made publicly available on the EPA website. For more information about the proposed remake of the UPSS regulation visit https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/contaminated-land/preventing-contaminated-land/upss.