Underground Petroleum Storage Systems

UPSS Regulators in NSW 

Council regulates all Underground Petroleum Storage Systems in the municipality except those:

  • operated by public authorities
  • located in unincorporated areas of NSW
  • subject to an environment protection licence.

UPSS are commonly found at:

  • service stations
  • marinas
  • works depots
  • airports
  • car dealerships
  • government facilities. 

UPSS operators must have systems in place to prevent, report, and if they happen, fix, leaks.

Regulation requirements

A UPSS leak can contaminate land and groundwater.

It can also risk human and environmental health.

If you are responsible for a UPSS you must meet the following UPSS Regulation

Legal responsibility

The person responsible for a UPSS is legally required to register it and ensure it complies with regulation.

If you have management and control of the system, such as owning, leasing or contracting the site, you are the responsible person.

Register a UPSS with Council

Contamination or pollution found from a leaking or faulty UPSS must be reported to Council within 20 days.

Failure to do so is an illegal act.

Notify a UPSS leak to Council

The person responsible for a UPSS is required to develop and implement a Fuel System Operation Plan at the site.

It contains procedures and systems to detect and fix any leaks as early as possible.

A plan template and fact sheet is available on the NSW EPA website.

Commissioning of storage systems

Part 2 of UPSS Regulation

Installation of a new system, or modification or repair of an existing system is not to be commissioned unless properly designed, installed and equipped.

The UPSS must comply with Australian Standards 4897–2008: The design, installation and operation of underground petroleum storage systems.

It must have a leak detection system installed.

An equipment integrity test and certification must be carried out in accordance with the written directions of a duly qualified person. 


Leak Detection Systems

Part 3 UPSS Regulation

Leak detection systems are a backup in case a loss monitoring system fails to detect a leak.

A UPSS must not be used unless a leak detection system is installed.

Leak detection systems must be installed by a duly qualified person.

Detection systems may be groundwater monitoring wells, or an alternative leak detection system installed to EPA Guidelines

Read the NSW EPA's Leak detection systems fact sheet for more information.

Loss detection procedures

Part 4 clause 21 UPSS Regulation

You are required to have a loss monitoring system under clause 18 (4) of the UPSS Regulation.

Regular monitoring for unexpected fuel losses (or gains of water) in UPSS help detect leaks early.

If losses are detected, the person responsible must take action to investigate the discrepancy.

If it can't be attributed to anything other than a leak, its existence must be confirmed, source identified and leak stopped.

If a leak is stopped, the person responsible must take action as soon as possible to prevent a re-occurrence.

Loss monitoring is calculated on 3 data inputs.

The amount of:

  1. fuel delivered
  2. solid fuel
  3. fuel remaining in stock.

See the NSW EPA's Fact Sheet on Loss monitoring systems for further details.

Record-keeping and event reports

Part 5 and 6 UPSS Regulation

There are strict record-keeping, notifying and reporting requirements you must make to Council for:

  1. significant modifications
  2. decommissioning storage systems
  3. removing or replacing a tank.

You must keep an incident log at the storage site or at another location if specified in your Fuel Systems Operation Plan.

You must record in your incident log any activity, or unplanned or abnormal incident, that has affected, is affecting, or could affect, the system's integrity or long-term safety.

This includes operation disruptions or equipment failures.

UPSS records must be kept for at least 7 days from the day the document was created.

For the decommissioning of a storage system, records must be kept for at least 7 years from the date of decomissioning.

If UPSS reponsibility is transferred, the previously responsible person must provide all documents for the system to the newly responsible person within 30 days.

Fuel handling and managing run-off from service station forecourts

The design of fuel handling and dispensing areas must be consistent with Australian Standards:

  •  AS1940-2017 - storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids
  • AS4897-2008 - design, installation and operation of underground petroleum storage systems.

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 is NSW's primary legislation used to prevent and regulate pollution.

It is an offence under the act to pollute land and water, including groundwater.

Site staff should be trained, knowledgeable and skilled in following appropriate procedures to:

  • stop and contain spills
  • minimise environmental risk of day-to-day operation of the site.

Read the NSW EPA's:

Fact Sheet on fuel handling and dispensing areas

Practice note for managing run-off from service station forecourts