The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA VIC) has recently completed an education and self-assessment program designed to identify how well the regulatory and management requirements for UPSS has been understood by the industry. Key to this program to date has been the requirement for fuel site operators to submit self-assessment checklists to the regulator, this is now to be followed up with voluntary and required site audits.

Following the receipt of self-assessments for more than 83% of all UPSS operators, EPA VIC has released its findings and announced the launch of the next phase of the UPSS Compliance Program, a series of audits and verification visits.

EPA VIC CEO Nial Finegan outlines that “The checklists have provided valuable insights for EPA and help us better understand the industry’s UPSS management practices”. Mr Finegan went on to explain that the initial findings have shown that some site operators will face significant challenges in achieving compliance, challenges that may threaten the financial viability of the businesses. Other findings from the self-assessment stage have included; that multiple site operators are more likely to have returned information, that some operators leak detection systems are inadequate and that many operators are not complying with the requirement for groundwater monitoring.

While the findings have also highlighted that the owner/operator relationship and management structures of sites can be significantly different and sometimes complicated, which can cause confusion as to who is the legal duty holder with regards to the UPSS and the keeping of records, Mr Finegan advises that “owners and operators of UPSS should consider compliance with Victorian legislation and guidelines as a high priority for the management of their business”.

In speaking about the Program Mr Finegan has outlined that the next phase will shortly commence with follow up to include phone calls, voluntary site visits with key industry groups and retails and voluntary desktop assessments of site information provided. Mr Finegan explained that “the focus of these follow up activities will be to support owners/operators [to] improve their UPSS management.”

In addition to phone calls and voluntary audits and assessments EPA VIC Offices will also be conducting Compliance Inspections to verify the accuracy of the information sites have submitted in the self-assessment checklists, including seeking evidence of record keeping.

UPSS owners and operators are reminded that it is a requirement to submit the Monitoring for leaks – Self-evaluation checklist and Summary Report to the EPA VIC. Any owner or operator of a UPSS system that has not yet submitted these documents should do so by visiting www.epa.vic.gov.au/upss . All UPSS owners and operators should familiarise themselves with the Guidelines on the design, installation and management requirements for underground petroleum storage systems (UPSSs) (EPA Publication 888.4) and take steps to ensure that their business complies and can demonstrate that compliance to the regulator.

For more information on the EPA VIC UPSS Compliance Program please see http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/our-work/programs/upsss-at-service-stations .

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