Underground storage systems
Why are some underground storage systems a problem?
Underground storage systems (USS) are most often associated with the storage of petroleum products (commonly referred to as underground petroleum storage systems or UPSS). Other hazardous substances, including waste products, may also be stored in underground tanks.
USS are one of the major sources of soil and groundwater contamination due to the potential for leakage of product to the environment.
The resulting contamination may represent, or potentially represent, risks to human health and the environment and impact on the acceptability of the site, or nearby sites, for their current or proposed use.
Removal of old or unused USS
The EPA recommends removing all USS that are no longer being used for their originally intended purposes (ie storage of petroleum products or other hazardous materials) as soon as reasonably practicable.
A suitably qualified and experienced site contamination consultant should be engaged to assess the site to determine if there has been any impact to soil or groundwater, and to recommend remediation if necessary in order to verify the suitability of the site for the intended use.
An independent auditor may be required to review the work completed to ensure the site is suitable for its intended use, depending on the land use proposed and the nature and extent of site contamination issues.
Guidelines for USS design, installation and management
The EPA is in the process of developing a code of practice on the design, installation and management of USS.
In the interim, the EPA recommends compliance with the Victorian EPA Guidelines on the Design, Installation and Management Requirements for Underground Petroleum Storage Systems as a means of ensuring that all reasonable and practical measures are taken in regard to complying with the Environment Protection Act 1993 and the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2015.
Further information on the assessment of sites containing USS can be obtained from the EPA Guidelines for assessment of underground storage systems.