The NSW Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the expiry of all Class 2, 3 and 4 exemptions to the secondary leak detection requirements under the 2008 UPSS regulations, and has launched a series of Self Evaluation Compliance Checklists and reporting mechanisms to assist retail petroleum outlets in achieving compliance with existing EPA regulations in this changing context.  All NSW site operators are required to submit an appropriate Self Evaluation by 30th April 2019. ACAPMA is working with the regulator and the industry to ensure all parties understand their responsibilities and can work towards compliance together.

UPSS Requirements and Exemptions Expiry

There is a requirement for all service station sites to comply with the Underground Petroleum Storage System (UPSS) Guidelines and requirements.  This includes a requirement for all sites to have a primary leak detection system in place.  There is a further requirement for sites which are located in a sensitive environmental location, or sites that are undergoing major works, to implement secondary leak detection systems.  This further requirement only applied to sites that were deemed by the EPA to be in a sensitive location and were directed (as part of major works) to implement the secondary systems.  When the UPSS Regulations were introduced in 2008 the EPA had the power to issue exemptions to allow sites time to comply with the requirements.  The EPA provided an exemption to other sites in the form of a Class 2, 3 or 4 exemption, which meant that exempted sites did not need to demonstrate the operation of a secondary leak detection system.  The EPA has announced that all previously granted exemptions provided in the Class 2, Class 3 and Class 4 formats, have now expired and all sites must now be operating with secondary leak detection as outlined in the provisions within the Guidelines.

A copy of the Guidelines can be found here; https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/-/media/epa/corporate-site/resources/clm/09653upssglines.pdf?la=en&hash=9740D460ACED0DCEFA61C7DB78836706E024A289

A copy of the Operational Best Practice Guide can be found here; https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/-/media/epa/corporate-site/resources/clm/underground-petroleum-storage-systems-environmental-incident-prevention-guide-160410.pdf

Self Evaluation Submissions Required by ALL NSW Site Operators

The EPA has launched a Self Evaluation and Reporting mechanism to assist operators in understanding and meeting the requirements in these changing circumstances.

All operators of NSW Service Stations will need to complete one of the Self Evaluation Checklists and submit it to the EPA by no later than 30th April 2019.

There are three different Self Evaluation Checklists, and the EPA has mailed these directly to the sites, however they can be completed online, and there is provision for the lodgement of multisite information.

Which Self Evaluation should a site submit?

The EPA has forwarded all sites the appropriate Checklist for them to submit, based on whether the site had previously held a Class 2, 3 or 4 exemption.

Under this self evaluation and reporting mechanism launches recently by the EPA, there are two classes of Self Evaluation Checklists. 

The first Checklist; Monitoring for UPSS Leaks at Service Stations Environmental Compliance Self Evaluation, is for those sites who have not been granted a exemption to the secondary leak detection requirements. This Checklist has been designed to help all parties in the retail petroleum site operation (and ownership) chain, assess their current performance against the long established EPA NSW UPSS Guidelines.

The second Checklist covers much of the same material, but is customised based on the exemption that was held previously (Class 2, 3 or 4)

Enforcement

In communications the EPA has made it clear that this program is about ensuring that the UPSS are being monitored and checked to ensure operations are safe and compliant.  The EPA further explains that “EPA will work with those operators who demonstrate a willingness to comply (by completing the Checklists and notifying EPA early of any issues on their site) to negotiate timeframes for completing any necessary remedial actions.”

On September 1st 2019, the enforcement activities of the EPA as relates to UPSS will transfer to the councils, with the EPA providing a detailed support structure to the councils on technical and enforcement, a well as targeting and reporting – such as this Self Evaluation scheme.

Further Information or Assistance

Retail petroleum site owners and operators in New South Wales who have not yet received communication from the EPA, who are concerned about achieving the 2 week reporting window or who are seeking advice or assistance with completing their checklist can find a copy at:  https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/contaminated-land/preventing-contaminated-land/upss,  call the UPSS Helpline on 02 9016 9031, or can contact ACAPMA via 1300 160 270 or communications@acapma.com.au.