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, or 'fuel tanks', are most common at service stations but may be found where fuel is used, for example at 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.

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 2019 (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 pollution incidents immediately and then provide a completed UPSS Regulation notification form to the Appropriate Regulatory Authority within seven days.

You can download Lismore City Council's UPSS Leak Notification form here.

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 licence
  • 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.

Further information

EPA website https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/contaminated-land/upss

Image credit: EPA NSW