Underground Petroleum Storage Systems

What are UPSS?

Underground petroleum storage systems (UPSS) are fuel tanks that have been placed underground.

They are most commonly found at service stations, but can also be found where fuel is regularly used such as transport depots, mechanical workshops, car dealerships, government facilities and rural properties.

Why are UPSS regulated?
Under NSW environmental protection legislation, UPSS are required to be regulated because of the risk posed to human health and the environment if an underground tank leaks fuel, contaminating surrounding land or water supplies. The Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2019 aims to minimise the risk to human and environmental health by requiring best practice design, installation, maintenance and monitoring of UPSS.

Who is responsible for regulating UPSS?
In NSW, regulation of UPSS is a shared responsibility between State and Local Government. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the regulatory authority for UPSS sites that are:

  • operated by public authorities such as Council
  • operating under an Environmental Protection Licence
  • in the unincorporated areas of NSW
  • subject to ongoing enforcement notices issued by the EPA

Local government is the regulatory authority for all other UPSS sites in their local government area.

What are operators of UPSS required to do?

The person who has ‘management and control’ of the UPSS is the person responsible for the system. The person responsible is required to have correct procedures and systems in place to detect and manage any leaks as soon as possible. All procedures and systems in place must be documented in the Fuel System Operation Plan for the premises.

The person responsible for the UPSS also has a legal duty to notify pollution incidents to Council immediately and provide a completed UPSS Leak Notification Form (see link to form below) within seven days of the initial notification. It is against the law to allow, or ignore, contamination resulting from a mismanaged UPSS.

Further information

If you would like further information or assistance regarding UPSS, please contact Council’s Environmental Officers by email council@kyogle.nsw.gov.au or telephone 02 6632 1611.

The NSW EPA also provides a range of resources for UPSS operators on their website. Click here to go to EPA website.

Industry associations such as the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (www.acapma.com.au) and the Motor Traders’ Association of NSW – Service Stations Association (www.mtansw.com.au) can also provide their members with advice and guidance about their obligations regarding UPSS.