Many readers will be aware that, following consultation with industry earlier this year, ACAPMA identified the need for development of new Best Practice Guidelines for fuel retailers in four key areas of operation – one of these being the installation and operation of Vapor Recovery systems.

In the five months since this consultation was completed, ACAPMA has been working with expert groups charged with the development of each Guideline.

The production of the Vapor Recovery Guideline, however, has proven problematic.

Specifically, technical stakeholders were divided about the proper design of Vapour Recovery Stage 2 (VR2) systems.

Some participants went so far as to suggest that the current NSW laws appear to promote designs that are inconsistent with relevant Australian Standards in respect of the required venting of underground petroleum storage systems (UPSS).

Others suggested that some of the observed problems were due to the reliability of some system components while others still, suggested that recently observed issues could be rightly attributed to the failure of fuel retailers to properly monitor the operation of the VR2 systems.

“Regardless, the consensus of working group participants was that more work needed to be done to better understand the nature of any relationship between the operation of VR2 systems and the safe operation of the UPSS asset”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

“For this reason, ACAPMA has decided to defer the publication of the VR Guideline until further work is completed”, said Mark.

In the meantime, ACAPMA strongly suggests that all fuel retailers with VR2 systems in place should ensure that:

  1. Any alarms from VR Monitoring systems are not ignored. In cases where the VR monitoring alarms are frequently activated, the retailer should immediately seek advice from a qualified contractor as it could potentially be an indication that underground storage tanks are being subjected to tank pressures that exceed tank manufacturer specifications.
  2. All Pressure Vacuum (PV) vents (installed on the vent pipe at all sites) are regularly inspected to ensure that they are operating correctly.

It is also recommended that site operators with VR2 systems in place contact their systems provider to ensure that the design of their system provides sufficient venting of each underground tank – in accordance with the requirements of the Australian Standards.

“For our part, ACAPMA will liaise with all stakeholders to better understand the issue and, if necessary, will work with the NSW EPA to discuss the need for changes to current VR2 Legislation in that State”, said Mark.

A panel discussion on the issues surrounding the development of the Best Practice Guideline for Vapor Recovery will be held at the Contractors Forum on Wednesday 13 September.

The Contractors Forum is a stream of the Asia Pacific Fuel Industry Forum being held at the Melbourne Convention Centre 13-14 September 2017.  To participate in this conversation, book your place at or call ACAPMA on 1300 160 270.