Operating a service station Is inherently risky. To minimise environmental and commercial risk, site operators should use multiple forms of leak detection. Otherwise, how do you know? Read on to find out how a Queensland site owner is taking a proactive approach to UPSS risk management
Trent Turnham owns and operates two retail petrol stations in Queensland. From the beginning, he wanted to take a proactive approach to running the business.
The retail fuel industry in Queensland is largely left to local councils to manage UPSS issues. As a result, many service station operators take a reactive approach to maintaining their key asset which can lead to environmental risks and fuel quality issues.
Trent has always taken the opposite approach. Rather than wait for a crisis to happen, he was determined to be across any potential issues before they became a problem. “From the beginning, I wanted to be in full control,” he said. “No-one has x-ray vision in terms on what goes on inside a tank and what your fuel quality is like. I wanted to be on top of it – always.”
Trent had been using Statistical Inventory Reconciliation Analysis (SIRA) as a form of leak detection for more than a decade, but he wanted an additional safeguard through groundwater monitoring.
Trent engages Leighton O’Brien for all his environmental compliance and fuel quality requirements including fuel sampling, tank cleaning and fuel restoration, SIRA, groundwater monitoring, and line integrity testing.
A regular fuel sampling program allows Trent to monitor product quality and know when a tank might require cleaning. Tank cleaning and fuel restoration removes any contaminants such as rust and traces of water that can allow bacteria to flourish.
Using a range of services in a combined package is consistent with Trent’s proactive approach to environmental management. “If you have a tank leak into the ground, and you’re not doing SIRA and groundwater monitoring, you wouldn’t know that you’re losing product and polluting the environment,” Trent said. “And if your tanks are dirty, the groundwater monitoring results are not in spec and you’ve failed SIRA, you then have to dig up the tank. There’s such big risks and costs involved.”
Leighton O’Brien also helps him keep on top of any maintenance requirements – such as a line integrity test that revealed a potential pump cavitation issue, which could have led to dispensing problems and costly equipment repairs.
Similarly, regular groundwater monitoring means Trent knows he could respond immediately to a contamination event. “Because we do regular sampling, we don’t have any issues,” he said. “If there was, we’d know about it before council turns up and says, “We’re going to shut you down until you fix it.””
Trent said using Leighton O’Brien’s suite of services ensures that his sites are compliant, his equipment is maintained, and his brand is intact, knowing that customers are always being served a quality product.
He has even displayed fuel sampling results inside his stores. “We’d like to think that customers can fuel up with us and drive away confident knowing that they’ve got clean fuel. They can walk past our noticeboard and see that we’re open about it, that our tanks are clean, and our fuel is clean.”
As with any business, Trent understands that reputation is everything. Partnering with Leighton O’Brien to maintain fuel quality is consistent with Trent’s overall philosophy of providing customers with a premium product to uphold the wider retail brand.
“If I have an issue, it’s going to be picked up by us through Leighton O’Brien – not the media, and not the customer because we’re proactive,” said Trent. “It’s really a no brainer.”