It’s important businesses store and manage liquids the right way because:
- a liquid leak or spill can pollute the environment and harm people’s health
- pollution from a liquid spill or leak is an offence under the Environment Protection Act 1970
- a hazardous liquid leak or spill can cause lost work time, clean-up costs and damage your business’s reputation
- EPA can take legal action over leaks and spills which can result in criminal convictions and heavy fines.
How to prevent and manage hazardous leaks and spills
A hazardous leak or spill can happen at any business that works with liquids. Prevent and manage leaks and spills by:
Identifying and managing risks
- Identify areas and activities with potential for pollution from leaks and spills.
- Assess the risk of pollution from leaks and spills in the areas and activities that were identified.
- Implement reasonably practicable controls to manage and reduce the risks.
- Review the controls regularly to ensure they remain effective.
- Make an incident management plan about what to do in an emergency that a leak or spill causes.
- Train staff on what to do in an emergency that a leak or spill causes.
Using secondary containment systems
- If your primary liquid storage container or transfer mechanism fails, secondary containment systems prevent liquids from escaping.
- Secondary containment systems can include bunds, encasement and grading of sealed surface areas.
Storing liquids the right way
- Avoid storing liquids where there’s a high risk of water pollution or land contamination.
- Store liquids on sealed surfaces in areas with covered roofing to exclude rainwater, and secondary containment.
Managing your site
- Contain any spills or leaks.
- Manage outdoor areas to make sure only clean water leaves the site.
- Divert uncontaminated stormwater away from liquid storage areas.
- Regularly check containers and secondary containment for leaks.
Using first flush systems
- First flush systems prevent pollutants that have accumulated on outdoor surfaces from entering the stormwater system during rain.
- These systems divert water from the first flush of any rain into storage, allowing you to test, treat and dispose of the contaminated water.
Using site containment or isolation systems
Installing site containment or isolation (shutoff) systems can:
- prevent liquids from leaving a site
- provide extra time to contain and clean up spilt liquids.
Reporting pollution a spill or leak causes
- You must report any liquid spills or leaks that could harm the environment.
- You must also report incidents that break your business’s EPA licence conditions.
How to manage waste from liquids
We give guidance on how to manage:
- industrial waste from liquids
- prescribed industrial waste from liquids that could harm people and the environment.
Show you’re complying with the law
You must be able to show us you’re complying with the law on hazardous leaks and spills.
We may ask for evidence of inspections, maintenance, audits and training and planning. This will help us assess your performance.
More guidance for storing and managing liquids
- Liquid storage and handling guidelines (publication 1698)
- Preventing liquid leaks and spills from entering the environment (publication 1700)
- EPA notification protocol for reporting high priority sewer spills (publication 1603)
- Large containers (>200 L) contaminated with PIW – Classification for reuse (publication IWRG422)
- Solid industrial waste hazard categorisation and management (publication IWRG631)
WorkSafe Victoria also gives guidance on storing and handling liquids:
- Code of practice: The storage and handling of dangerous goods
- Managing chemicals in the workplace: A step-by-step guide
- Safe handling of industrial waste: A practical guide for workplaces
Read more about hazardous leaks and spills
Reviewed 15 April 2020