Service stations are essential community facilities. These facilities do, however, present significant challenges from a safety and environmental perspective. One area that is becoming increasingly important is the management of the pollution risk posed to the stormwater system where hydrocarbons on the forecourt can potentially be washed into natural waterways during rainfall periods. Proper management of this risk protects the environment and minimizes the risk of environmental prosecution.

The varied activities of a service station (including mechanical workshop, carwash and vehicle refuelling) typically results in pollutants being deposited on the forecourt of a service station, including:

  • leakage of fuels from storage facilities, especially those located within underground tank systems
  • spillage of engine coolant, fuel, hydraulic fluid, lubricants or solvents on the forecourt areas from customer vehicles
  • inappropriate containment or disposal of wastes (e.g. car parts, batteries, tyres and fluids) associated with mechanical servicing activities
  • wastewater disposal from carwash facilities.

Once deposited on the forecourt, these pollutants can be readily washed into nearby stormwater systems during rain periods, resulting in contamination of natural watercourses (i.e. creaks, streams and rivers).

Under Environmental law, all service station operators have a legal responsibility to ensure that all reasonable efforts are made to minimize this form of environmental pollution.

Successful management starts with the proper design of the site canopy and installation of appropriate treatment systems. Common causes of stormwater pollution at a service station include:

  • failure of the Canopy design to accommodate a 10 degree inset of the drip line
  • installation of Fuel hose lines that extend outside the canopy drip line
  • fuel bowsers that have no canopy
  • defective Oil/Water plate separator (Sewer connected installations)

“All service station operators have a legal responsibility to ensure that their site is designed in such a manner to minimize the risk of pollutants being washed from the forecourt and into urban waterways”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

Management of this responsibility means ensuring that the canopy provides appropriate coverage of the refueling areas on the forecourt and installing systems for the treatment of water from the forecourt – via the capture and separation of hydrocarbons.

One company that is leading the way in the design of state-of-the-art treatment systems is SPEL Environmental.

SPEL manufacture and supply the SPEL Puraceptor & the SPEL Stormceptor. Both of these systems are the most tried and proven solution in the Asia Pacific Region for the capture and separation of hydrocarbons.

The principal advantage of these two systems, relative to traditional systems, is that they are easy to install and require little ongoing maintenance. As a result, the capital cost of these systems is recouped in a few short years and returned several times over during the life of the system, said SPEL’s Asia Pacific Team Leader (Water Quality) Andy Hornbuckle.

SPEL’s products have been the subject of extensive testing programmes conducted by some of Australia’s pre-eminent hydraulic research facilities including the University of Sunshine Coast, the University of South Australia, Griffith University and HR Wallingford – the leading hydraulics research facility in the United Kingdom.

“With innovative technology comes a need to prove our product to both industry and the relevant Authorities. That is why we have embarked on a comprehensive national programme designed to raise government authority awareness of the independent lab and field testing results that have completed over a number of years”, said Andy.

Over the last few weeks, SPEL’s Puraceptor was formally approved by Brisbane City Council for service stations sites across Brisbane which represents a major milestone in the delivery of advance stormwater treatment systems for the service station industry in Australia.

Further Information

For more information about SPEL’s industry leading water treatment products, visit the SPEL website ( or call SPEL on 1300 773 500.