Underground Petroleum Storage Systems

Underground petroleum storage systems (UPSS) are a widely used method for storing fuel beneath the ground surface at facilities like service stations, airports, car dealerships, work depots, golf courses and other places where fuel may be used or stored.

Unfortunately, these systems are also a common source of contamination to surrounding soil, groundwater, surface water, air, and surrounding environment. They can also have a significant impact on human and ecological health. Leaks from systems can occur due to:

  • Corrosion of tanks, pipes, and other parts
  • Leakages and spills during filling or drawing of fuel
  • Human error during maintenance and use
  • Poor design and maintenance of the system

Leaks in UPSS have the potential to cost a considerable amount of money and resources to clean up.

From 1 September 2019, Council resumed responsibility for regulation of UPSS sites from the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

The EPA will remain the appropriate regulatory authority for UPSS sites that are:

  • Operated by public authorities
  • In the unincorporated areas of NSW
  • Subject to an environment protection license
  • Subject to a notice issued by the EPA for a matter under the UPSS Regulation until the actions in the notice have been complied with

The UPSS Regulation

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2019 (UPSS Regulation) aims to address the significant environmental and public health risk posed by leakages from UPSS by establishing minimum standards and best practice for design, commissioning, decommissioning and modification of systems. This includes requirements for loss monitoring, leak detection, and documentation.

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 manage any leaks as early as possible, and document these in a Fuel System Operation Plan (FSOP) (previously known as Environmental Protection Plan) for the premises. The NSW EPA provide guidelines for the FSOP and a self-evaluation checklist.

Leak Detection Notification

Part 5.7 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 requires those responsible for UPSS sites to notify Council of any pollution incidents that occur, including any leakages of fuel from the system. If a leak is detected from your UPSS, you must complete the leak notification form (below).

It is against the law to allow or ignore contamination resulting from a leaking or faulty UPSS. Failure to report could result in penalties for corporations of up to $2 million and $500,000 for an individual.

Underground Petroleum Storage Systems (UPSS) Notification Form

Educational Resources

Further information and education material regarding UPSS can be found below: