19 July 2019

Fuel sector operators under EPA scrutiny

Increased scrutiny from the Environmental Protection Authority has prompted fuel retail businesses to place greater focus on underground petroleum storage systems.

Grant Stillman“Several recent product discharge incidents in Victoria have been severely dealt with by the Environment Protection Authority which imposed heavy fines, for minor leakages into water courses, for example,” says Gallagher dangerous goods expert Grant Stillman.

“These penalties serve as a warning that the EPA will come down hard on product that’s not properly contained on site.”

Service station operators in Victoria and also New South Wales and South Australia have responded by taking steps to ensure that the costs of an environmental contamination incident don’t extend to EPA fines for failing to take sufficient preventative precautions.

Gradual pollution resulting from leaks in underground tanks that cause immediate soil and potential groundwater contamination can be managed with sound business practices and correct procedures.

“A monitoring system is required to measure abnormalities and there should be a procedure in place for responding to detected leaks,” Stillman advises.

The EPA has required NSW and Victorian fuel retailers to revise their tank loss monitoring procedures and in SA the authority is formalising the process through a licencing and fees system. Recently the Tasmanian EPA issued a warning to local operators that they need to be able to demonstrate that loss monitoring results are reviewed daily.

Key actions required

Best practice for this process involves 4 components, according to the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association magazine.

  1. thumbnail fuel tank leaks2Daily monitoring of wet stock volumes should aim to detect losses of 0.761 litres per hour at 95% confidence, or 18 litres or more over 24 hours.
  2. Results should be reviewed daily by someone qualified to assess the dynamics of losses and recognise results that demand further investigation.
  3. A set process for responding to anomalies in a timely way, including formalised reporting, investigating suspected leaks and repairs as required.
  4. Maintenance of equipment and record keeping in order to obtain and track monitoring results. Businesses are legally required to keep both maintenance and readings records.

Protect your business

“It’s all about business management and following through on results,” Stillman says. “Operators should be aware that our insurance provides for sudden and unforeseen environmental incidents. Protecting against gradual pollution calls for a guaranteed management structure because insurance cover for this type of risk is expensive and requires site compliance in tank and line integrity, which in most cases makes insurance cover unrealistic.”

Our Oilpac insurance solution has been the mainstay of the Australian wholesale and retail fuel industry for over 40 years.

Just as important as the protection provided by Oilpac are our risk mitigation strategies for exposures not normally covered by standard insurance contracts .Environmental management advice is our most requested service.

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