The Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2014 (NSW) (Proposed Regulation) will replace the Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2008 (NSW) (Current Regulation) from 1 September 2014.

The Proposed Regulation aims to enhance the management of underground petroleum storage systems (UPSS), which have the potential to cause contamination and damage to the environment if leaking occurs, resulting in extensive clean-up costs.

This article identifies the manner in which the Proposed Regulation affects the management of UPSSs in New South Wales.

WHAT ARE UPSS?

UPPSs are defined by the Proposed Regulation as a system of tanks, pipes, valves and other equipment designed to contain petroleum or control the passage of petroleum between one part of a storage system to another.

WHY A NEW REGULATION?

The Proposed Regulation will bring the regulation of UPSSs into line with Australian Standard 4897- 2008: The design, installation and operation of underground petroleum storage systems (AS4897-2008) with the intention of improving site infrastructure and enabling the early detection of petroleum leaks. The objectives of the Proposed Regulation are to:

  • clarify and align regulatory requirements with other legislation and industry best practice;
  • improve documentation of site management procedures;
  • improve enforceability of requirements;
  • encourage the use of new technologies in the monitoring of UPSS; and
  • reduce duplication in record- keeping.

WHAT DOES THE PROPOSED REGULATION APPLY TO?

The Proposed Regulation applies to all sites with active UPSSs in New South Wales. This includes petrol station sites, bulk fuel deposit sites, and sites with UPSSs in use by small businesses (such as workshops and marinas).

The Proposed Regulation does not apply to premises which are licensed to store petroleum products under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) nor does it apply to above ground, liquefied petroleum gas storage systems or “scheduled activity” storage systems.

Under the Proposed Regulation, the EPA will continue to have the power to provide exemptions from compliance with requirements of the Proposed Regulation.

WHO DOES THE PROPOSED REGULATION APPLY TO?

The Proposed Regulation applies to each ‘person responsible’, which means:

  1. the person with the management or control of a UPSS; or
  2. if the UPSS has been decommissioned, the person who was responsible for its management and control before it was decommissioned.

KEY CHANGES TO THE CURRENT REGULATION

Click here to view table.

IMPLICATIONS OF THE CHANGES

In summary, the proposed changes are designed to:

  • enable loss monitoring procedures to take into account the particular characteristics and usage patterns of a storage system;
  • provide greater flexibility in the use of loss monitoring procedures for a storage site;
  • enable the use of alternative secondary leak detection systems;
  • enable environment protection plans to be kept electronically as either a consolidated document or a collection of documents; such as the definitions of ‘petroleum’, ‘routine maintenance’, ‘significant modification’ and ‘storage site’; and
  • clarify reporting requirements.

FURTHER  INFORMATION

The NSW EPA Regulatory Impact Statement for the Proposed Regulation can be found here, while a copy of the Proposed Regulation itself can be found here.