Programs and initiatives

Underground petroleum storage systems at service stations

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 have 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.

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 petrol stations across the state – download the guide here (EPA publication 1670). Designed to help UPSS operators protect the environment and ensure public safety, this UPSS flipchart spells out the best ways to prevent and manage leaks and spills, as well as head off 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 does the program involve?

This program is made up of three activities.

Encourage underground workers to report petroleum leaks to EPA

EPA has developed and distributed information to local councils, water corporations and utility companies to inform underground workers on when and how to report possible petroleum leaks they discover when working underground.

Promote compliance with EPA’s UPSS guideline

EPA has developed the Monitoring for leaks self-evaluation checklist and an associated summary report to:

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

EPA plan to carry out inspections and site visits for service stations across the state. These will ensure UPSS owners and operators are regularly monitoring for leaks and properly acting on any indication of a possible leak.

UPSS owners and operators should note the following:

  • Owners and operators who do not submit a completed summary report will have their site/s prioritised for follow-up.
  • EPA will randomly select a number of sites for follow-up to verify the accuracy of the information provided in the summary reports.

Self-assessment 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% 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-assessment 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.

Some of the key results are summarised in the two tables below.

Group Response (by site) Reported non-compliance Reported non-compliance (leak detection) Reported non-compliance (site sensitivity) Reported non-compliance (groundwater monitoring)
Large operator (more than 50 sites) 100% 37% 0% 4% 37%
Medium operator (11-50 sites) 100% 53% 5% 50% 32%
Small operator (2-10 sites) 93% 55% 23% 33% 20%
Single site operator (1 site) 56% 48% 26% 28% 14%

Follow up activities

General Leak detection Site sensitivity Groundwater compliance monitoring
EPA assessed non-compliance Self-assessed non-compliance EPA assessed non-compliance Self-assessed non-compliance EPA assessed non-compliance Self-assessed non-compliance EPA assessed non-compliance Self-assessed non-compliance
Large Multi Site 63% 42% 0% 0% 11% 0% 63% 42%
Medium Multi Site 79% 64% 7% 14% 29% 57% 79% 43%
Small Multi Site 100% 78% 44% 56% 67% 44% 89% 22%
Single Site 82% 59% 47% 41% 71% 41% 76% 18%

What can site owners and operators 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:

  • verify commitments given by service stations of improvements to their UPSS management.
  • conduct joint site visits with other regulators
  • follow up on the easy-to-follow guidance
  • send out a follow-up self-evaluation checklist.

How can operators prepare for EPA follow-up activities?

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 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 that 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.

What we are asking owners and operators to do
a) Download and complete the Monitoring for leaks checklist (Word 158KB) to keep for your records and to assist with completing the associated summary report.
b) After completing the checklist, complete and submit the summary report to EPA online. If you would like to complete a single report for multiple sites please use this form (Excel 229KB).

For further information on the program, please review the questions and answers 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.

    Completing the checklist will assist with completing the summary report. Provided the summary report that is submitted to EPA can be completed accurately, 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.

  • When will follow-up activities begin?

    We will start follow-up activities in March 2018.

  • How will I know if I’m going to be inspected?

    If your site is selected for an inspection, an EPA officer will contact you ahead of time to arrange a time to meet you on the site.

  • What will happen during an inspection?

    When on site, the EPA officer will discuss the information in your summary report and will review aspects of your UPSS management as covered in the Monitoring for leaks self-evaluation checklist.

    The EPA officer will ask you to provide evidence to support your answers, such as statistical inventory reconciliation analysis (SIRA) results, groundwater monitoring results (if applicable) or results of equipment integrity testing (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 16 May 2018