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Underground Petroleum Storage Systems (UPSS)

UPSS Schematic - EPA
Courtesy of EPA

Underground Petroleum Storage Systems (UPSS), commonly referred to as underground fuel tanks have the potential to cause significant environmental and human health impacts from leaks.

UPSS include tanks, pipes, valves and other equipment that is designed to contain or control the passage of petroleum products.

UPSS are most commonly found at service stations, however may also be located anywhere where fuel is used such as marinas, work depots, airports or manufacturing facilities.

The regulation of most UPSS sites was transferred from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) back to Local Council in September 2019.  Port Macquarie Hastings Council (PMHC) is now the Appropriate Regulatory Authority for regulating UPSS against relevant Legislation within the PMHC Local Government Area.

 The Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2019

The Regulation aims to minimise the risk to human health and the environment by requiring best practice design, installation, maintenance, and monitoring of UPSS in NSW.


UPSS used to store fuel for stand-by power generation, waste, or heating oil, are exempt from several provisions of the Regulation until 31 August 2021.  All other Exemption Orders issued by the EPA have now expired.


The person responsible for a UPSS is the person who has management and control of the system. The person responsible may be the owner of a site, a lessee, a contractor or a company. The person responsible is legally required to ensure the UPSS complies with the UPSS Regulation.

Operational UPSS sites are required to have the following:

All new and upgraded UPSS must meet the requirements of the Australian Standard 4897-2008 - The design, installation and operation of underground petroleum storage systems. Significant system modifications and replacements must be reported to Council. Council Officers can provide information on development applications and other potential planning procedures.

The person responsible for the UPSS must immediately, after becoming aware of a pollution incident such as a suspected leak, notify Council as per Part 5.7 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. The attached Leak Notification Form - Underground Petroleum Storage Systems (UPSS) must be completed and submitted to Council within seven days.  It is illegal to allow or ignore contamination resulting from a faulty UPSS.  

Form DE229 UPSS Leak Notification    

When a UPSS has not been used for over two years, the system must decommissioned. UPSS must be removed in accordance with Australian Standard 4976-2008 - Removal and disposal of underground petroleum tanks.

The complete removal of UPSS is the preferred method of decommissioning. In-situ decommissioning of UPSS is only considered if the removal of the UPSS is impractical and would result in significant structural or infrastructure damage.

Council must be notified at least 30 days in advance prior to the decommissioning of a UPSS.

Validation Report 

Whether the UPSS is removed or decommissioned in-situ, a Validation Report must be prepared by a duly qualified person and in accordance with relevant EPA Guidelines and Legislation. The Validation Report uses objective criteria to verify the UPSS site is free of unacceptable levels of contamination and that remediation works have successfully been carried out to allow for ongoing site use. The Validation Report must be provided to Council within 60 days of the UPSS being decommissioned.  

Note:  SafeWork NSW should also be notified once a UPSS has been removed.

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This page was last updated on: 14 May 2020