Proposed laws to stop petroleum contamination

Wednesday, 22 February, 2006

The Department of Environment & Conservation (DEC) is proposing new measures that address petroleum contamination from underground storage tanks and pipes "“ one of the major sources of soil and groundwater contamination in NSW.

DEC director general Lisa Corbyn said that leaking tanks at petrol stations account for roughly a quarter of all contaminated sites on DEC's books.

"With 2700 active service station sites in NSW and with most having multiple underground tanks, this is a significant issue in both the city and the country," Corbyn said.

"Cleaning up these sites is costly, technically difficult and time consuming but it can be avoided with better preventative measures."

"The proposed regulation will make sure leaks are detected, reported and investigated earlier to minimise the likelihood of far-reaching contamination."

"All new underground storage tanks will need to comply with the Australian Institute of Petroleum's code of practice based on the best available technology, including the use of double-walled tanks and piping, leak detection and groundwater monitoring wells."

"Owners of existing tanks will still need to do some work too. All tanks must have leak detection systems within the first year of the regulation, and install groundwater monitoring wells within the second year."

"As well as this, all tanks in NSW will need a site environmental management plan including a maintenance program complete with contingency procedures."

Corbyn said that petroleum products stored in underground tanks in NSW include petrol, diesel, kerosene, heating oil, aviation fuel and waste engine oil."

"These chemicals all have the potential to cause havoc on the soil and groundwater in our environment. They can move offsite affecting neighbouring properties and local waterways," Corbyn said.

"DEC will regulate these new requirements for underground storage systems to ensure industry is complying with the new regulations."

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