During an industry consultation held in Sydney on 27 March 2019, the NSW EPA foreshadowed changes to the Regulation associated with the operation of Underground Petroleum Storage Systems (UPSS). NSW EPA officers indicated that the changes were being made to bring the NSW Regulations into line with industry best practice.

“Proper management of UPSS is a critical element in the management of any fuel retail site in terms of both protecting the value of critical business assets and reducing environmental risk”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

“The failure of a UPSS system often ends in the closure of smaller fuel retail businesses (given the high penalties for environmental contamination and the associated costs of site clean-up) and so business owners have every reason to ensure that these assets are managed in accordance with industry best practice”, said Mark

The draft Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2019 and the supporting Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) were formally released for public consultation by the NSW EPA on 17 May 2019. Interested stakeholders are invited to provide public by 14 June 2019.

The new Regulation proposes a series of changes to the existing UPSS Regulation in terms of:

  • improved alignment with the best practice pollution prevention equipment for UPSS identified in Australian Standard 4897 (2008)
  • introduction of a requirement for 30-days’ notice to be given to local councils where a fuel retailer operator intends to decommission a UPSS system
  • a new requirement for fuel retailers to provide a short annual report to their regulator (council or the EPA) to briefly outline how UPSS the storage system has performed over the past financial year
  • changes to the definitions of what constitutes a duly qualified person and person responsible to recognise shifts in industry terminology and best practice in these areas
  • simplification of the definitions of petroleum and secondary leak detection systems – and application of the Regulation to all EPA licensed sites
  • a change to the name of the Environment Protection Plan prepared by UPSS operators to document their UPSS system to the Fuel System Operation Plan to better describe the contents of the plan and align it with language used in the petroleum industry.

The biggest change, however, is the decision to transfer responsibility for enforcement of the NSW UPSS Regulations to local council from 1 September 2019 (The EPA will retain regulatory responsibility for those UPSS managed and operated by public authorities and those in the unincorporated areas of the state, as well as those UPSS subject to an existing notice, direction or requirement – that is a notice issued prior to 1 September 2019 and still in force at that date – and for UPSS subject to an environment protection licence).

“While ACAPMA believes that the proposed changes to the NSW Regulations are largely in-line with best industry practice, we are concerned to ensure that Local Council Officers involved in UPSS enforcement are appropriately resourced and skilled in the enforcement of these Regulations”, said Mark

The EPA is now seeking feedback on the draft UPSS Regulation 2019 and Regulatory Impact Statement. A copy of these documents can be downloaded from via the EPA’s consultation portal https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/draft-upss-regulation-2019.

NSW Fuel Retailers and Contractors are strongly encouraged to review the draft documents and provide relevant comment either directly to the EPA or to the ACAPMA Secretariat for inclusion in ACAPMA’s submission to same before 13 June 2019.