Underground petroleum storage systems

Underground petroleum storage systems (UPSS) or fuel tanks can leak and contaminate surrounding land and groundwater, creating risks to human health and the environment.

These are mostly at service stations but may be also be found where fuel is used. This can include marinas, work depots, airports, car dealerships, or government facilities.

Operators of UPSS must have systems in place to help prevent, report, and fix leaks if they happen.

Local councils took over the regulation of the operation of UPSS in NSW on 1 September 2019 from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

The UPSS Regulation

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2014 (UPSS Regulation) aims to minimise the risk to human health and the environment through best practice design, installation, maintenance, and monitoring of UPSS in NSW.

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 an Fuel System Operation Plan for the premises.

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 our Council of any pollution incident that occurs, including fuel leaks, immediately. If a leak is detected from your UPSS, you must complete the leak notification form and return to our Council within 7 days.

Appropriate Regulatory Authority for UPSS regulation

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.