UNDERGROUND PETROLEUM STORAGE SYSTEMS
Underground petroleum storage systems (UPSS) can leak and contaminate surrounding land and groundwater, creating risks to human health and the environment.
UPSS are most common at service stations but may be found where fuel is used, for example at work depots, airports, car dealerships, or government facilities. Operators of UPSS must have systems in place to prevent, report, and fix leaks if they happen.
The UPSS Regulation
The Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2019 (UPSS Regulation) aims to minimise the risk to human health and the environment by requiring best practice design, installation, maintenance, and monitoring of UPSS in NSW.
UPSS used to store fuel for stand-by power generation, waste, or heating oil, are exempt from several provisions of the Regulation until 31 August 2021. All other Exemption Orders issued by the EPA have now expired. This means all active UPSS, other than those used to store fuel for stand-by power generation, waste, or heating oil, must now operate in accordance with the UPSS Regulation.
For further information see the NSW EPA UPSS website( https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/contaminated-land/upss )
Responsibility for UPSS
The person responsible for a UPSS is the person who has ‘management and control’ of the system. The person responsible must have procedures and systems in place to detect and fix any fuel leaks as early as possible, and document these in a Fuel System Operation Plan for the site.
It is against the law to allow or ignore contamination resulting from a leaking or faulty UPSS. The person responsible for the UPSS has a duty to notify pollution incidents (to Council and/or the NSW EPA) immediately and then provide a completed UPSS Regulation Leak Notification Form to the Council within 30 days.
Regulators of UPSS
From 1 September 2019, most sites with UPSS in NSW are regulated by local councils. The EPA is the regulatory authority for UPSS sites that are operated by public authorities, in the unincorporated areas of NSW, subject to an environment protection licence or were subject to a notice issued by the EPA before 1 September 2019 for a matter under the UPSS Regulation until the actions in that notice have been complied with.
Council Officers will undertake inspections to ensure compliance with the UPSS Regulations. Inspections will be charged at the Fee adopted by Council.