New Rules for Underground Petroleum Storage Systems
- 24 September 2019
For many worksites, having an Underground Petroleum Storage System (UPSS) makes a lot of sense. After all, being underground means that there’s little to no risk of the fuel storage tank being damaged by the weather or vandalism.
However, that extra security comes with a risk of causing extra damage to the environment if there were to be any leakage. Therefore, there are stringent requirements around the safe usage of the storage tank that need to be adhered to, and these standards are continually changing as legislation evolves.
New rules in place
At the start of September, for example, councils in New South Wales reassumed responsibility for the regulation of UPSS units in their regions, of which there are an estimated 2,000 in current operation. The vast majority of these are the type being used in your average service station.
It’s important to note that there’s an additional 1,000 UPSS units that are under the purvey of the EPA, as they’re under control of public authorities or placed in unclaimed land that is not controlled by a council.
Until recently councils worked with regulations that were drafted in 2014, and the new rules were first put out for public consultation in the middle of 2019. Among the major changes introduced in the new rules:
- Changes to definitions designed to clarify UPSS safety requirements
- Standards for the design, installation and operation of UPSS now closely match Australian Standard AS4897-2008
- Operators are now required to give councils 30 days warning before they can decommission a UPSS unit so that council authorities know what is happening
Full details of the new rules are available at https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/regulations/2019-411.pdf
The role of the EPA
During the transition period, the EPA is assisting local councils in NSW in a variety of ways.
Firstly, they are holding a regular series of workshops around the state where council members can learn about the new responsibilities being placed upon them. This will be followed by an online training system that goes over how design, construction, operation and regulation of UPSS units works on a practical level.
Handover packages are being sent to 128 New South Wales councils, giving details for how to handle inspections, leakages and approvals to stay in accordance with the new legislation.
More information can be found on the EPA’s website and will be forthcoming from the EPA in newsletters sent via email.
Other state and territory rules on underground storage tanks
Not sure about your state or territory? You’ll find the essential information for your area here:
- Queensland – The Petroleum and Gas (Safety) Regulation 2018 is now in effect, replacing the 2004 version. You can find all the resources on your legislative obligations and safety requirements on the Business Queensland website
- Victoria – VIC follows The Design, Installation and Management Requirements for Underground Petroleum Storage Systems (UPSS) which was released in August 2015. You can find the full requirements and obligations PDF on the EPA Victoria website
- Tasmania – Tassie’s rules are dictated by the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Underground Petroleum Systems) Regulations 2010. All details on the policy can be found on the EPA Tasmania website
- Western Australia - Codes of Practice and Standards for WA are approved by the Minister for Mines and Petroleum under Section 20 of the Dangerous Goods Safety Act which may also apply to mining, petroleum and major hazard facilities. The full list of approved codes can be found on the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website
- South Australia - The SA Environmental Protection Authority is in the process of developing a code of practice on the design, installation and management of underground fuel systems. In the interim, the EPA recommends compliance with the Victorian EPA Guidelines.
- Australian Capital Territory - The Environmental Guidelines for Service Station Sites and Hydrocarbon Storage has information on UPSS and above ground fuel storage requirements. You can find this info on the Access Canberra website or see the latest PDF here.
- Northern Territory – Worksafe NT has a comprehensive dangerous goods storage and transport information available on the Worksafe website