Programs and initiatives

Underground petroleum storage systems at service stations


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Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) runs an ‘Underground Petroleum Storage Systems at Service Stations’ program that aims to reduce the risks to people and the environment from leaking underground petroleum storage systems (UPSS).

Victorians are privileged to live in a healthy environment that supports prosperous communities. UPSS at service stations are one of the most common sources of both land and groundwater contamination. UPSS have the potential to leak, leading to expensive cleanup costs, damage to the environment and risks to human health. Everyone – government, industry, business and community members – has a role in protecting our environment for future generations.

What does the UPSS project involve?

The UPSS project aims to support service station operators to manage their UPSS via:

  • the UPSS flipchart (as described below)
  • site inspections conducted between March – May 2018 with co-regulators i.e. WorkSafe
  • distribution of a Monitoring for leaks self-evaluation checklist and an associated summary report to:

What can site operators and owners expect next from EPA?

UPSS owners and operators should consider compliance with Victorian legislation and guidelines to be a high and immediate priority.

Over the next 12 months, we plan to:

  • continue to conduct inspections to confirm UPSS management compliance
  • follow up on the easy-to-follow UPSS flipchart guidance 
  • send out a follow-up self-evaluation checklist.

Self-evaluation and summary report

The UPSS program is sending out a follow-up self-evaluation checklist in June-July 2018. EPA will be asking owners/operators for their input into the UPSS program, which has been run by EPA for your benefit.

What we are asking owners and operators to do

a) Download and complete the Monitoring for leaks checklist (Word 158KB) to assist with completing the associated summary report.

Keep this checklist for your records.

b) After completing the checklist, complete and submit a summary report to EPA.

You can either:

Email: upss@epa.vic.gov.au

Mail: EPA Victoria
GPO Box 4395
Melbourne VIC 3001

The UPSS flipchart

EPA has created a fact sheet (PDF 1.5MB) and a poster (PDF 525KB) that explain how leaking underground petroleum storage systems affect our environment and what EPA is doing about it.

We have also distributed a free guide to approximately 1400 service stations across the state – download the guide here (EPA publication 1670). Designed to help UPSS operators protect the environment and ensure public safety, this free UPSS guide in the form of a flipchart spells out the best ways to prevent and manage leaks and spills, as well as avoid other hazards. Under Victorian legislation and guidelines, owners and operators have responsibilities to properly manage their UPSS to minimise the risks they pose.

EPA Victoria gratefully acknowledges the support of the NSW Environment Protection Authority to produce this UPSS flipchart, as well as the assistance of various Victorian industry members.

What has been done in the past?

EPA conducted follow-up activities to ensure UPSS sites are being properly managed

EPA carried out inspections, desktop assessments and site visits for service stations across the state. These were to ensure UPSS owners and operators were regularly monitoring for leaks and properly acting on any indication of a possible leak. EPA can conduct these inspections at any time.

Self-evaluation responses

Early in 2015, EPA distributed a voluntary self-evaluation checklist to approximately 1400 sites so operators could determine the extent to which they complied with UPSS guidelines on The design, installation and management requirements for underground petroleum storage systems (publication 888). We received responses from 90 per cent of the operating service stations in Victoria, an amazing result reflective of substantial industry support.

The collected data allowed EPA to create a list of self-evaluation responses and to categorise service stations according to their potential for leaks. The data was a shared intelligence resource, and used for strategic follow-up activities at high-risk sites.

How can operators prepare for an EPA inspection?

If necessary, seek help to understand and comply with the guidelines. If you are not a member of an industry association but would like more information about the UPSS management services they provide, we suggest that you contact the:

  • Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) on 03 9829 1111
  • Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA) on on 1300 160 270.

Take action now to ensure that you are adequately monitoring and addressing leaks. Apart from anything else, it’s in your best interests to make sure the marketability of your business is untarnished and your land asset isn’t compromised. Prevention is much cheaper than remediation!

Have your relevant records available onsite (examples are listed in the Q&A section below).

Q&A about ‘UPSS at Service Stations’ program + Expand all Collapse all

  • Do I have to complete the ‘Monitoring for leaks self-evaluation checklist’?

    EPA understands that some operators with multiple sites already have comprehensive systems in place for monitoring, tracking and recording their environmental performance.

    The checklist will assist with completing the summary report which EPA uses to determine how best to support industry. EPA understands that some operators may choose not to complete the checklist.

    However, if an operator chooses not to complete the checklist and an EPA officer inspects their site, they should still be prepared to readily answer the questions in the checklist and provide evidence for their answers.

  • I know of businesses who have received communications from EPA. I own/operate a UPSS/service station but I didn’t receive anything. Why?

    You may not be on our list. If you wish to receive communications from EPA on UPSS in future we suggest that you sign up for EPA’s quarterly newsletter or contact your industry representative (details below).

    • Subscribe to EPA’s quarterly email newsletter that covers news for community, business and government.
    • Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) on 03 9829 1111.
    • Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA) on 1300 160 270.
  • What happens during a UPSS inspection?

    EPA authorised officers will conduct a physical inspection of your site and examine your UPSS documentation. Have your relevant records available onsite including but not limited to the following:

    • Proof of ownership and occupation of both the site and the UPSS/s. 
    • Site plans with details of location of UPSS infrastructure: tanks, pipes, fill parts. 
    • Evidence of age of UPSS. 
    • Evidence to confirm the leak detection system is rated to detect a release of 0.76 L/hour (or 18 L/day) with greater than 95 per cent confidence (and less than 5 per cent false positive). 
    • Leak Detection (e.g. SIRA) reports for the last 12 months. 
    • Evidence to show any potential leaks identified through leak detection monitoring over the past 12 months were investigated. 
    • Evidence to show any verified leaks were stopped and cleaned up so as to mitigate threats to people, property and the environment. 
    • Documented evidence of site sensitivity classification. 
    • Details of any groundwater monitoring wells on site including installation reports (if applicable). 
    • Details of Tank Pit Observation Wells and monitoring results.
    • Any groundwater quality monitoring procedures and results (if a sensitive site). 
    • Results of any equipment integrity testing (if applicable). 
    • Evidence of UPSS repairs or replacement (if applicable).

    For further information on the general process of an inspection please refer to EPA’s Authorised officers brochure (publication 1422).

  • I think I have a problem with my UPSS. Who can I speak to for advice?

    If you need technical advice or assistance to determine whether your UPSS is leaking, you could speak to a leak detection service provider or one of the industry associations below.

    If you think you have contamination on your site and would like advice on assessment and cleanup you should speak to a suitably qualified consultant.

    Industry association Contact
    Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) Occupational Health, Safety and Environment Unit
    Ph: 03 9829 1111
    Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA) Ph: 1300 160 270

Page last updated on 24 Jul 2018