• EPA Tasmania
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Buying a Property with Underground Fuel Tanks

 

If you are intending to buy a property with underground fuel tanks there are a number of issues you may want to consider, including:

Workplace Standards Tasmania (WST) may also have requirements regarding safety and technical issues for UPSSs. For further information in relation to these issue it is recommend that you contact WST on 1300 366 322 (within Tasmania) or (03) 6233 7657.  

Active/operational UPSSs

For an active/operational UPSS (a UPSS that was in use on 31 March 2010 or has been in use since), management of the storage system must comply with all aspects of the UPSS Regulations, including loss-monitoring and decommissioning if the tanks cease to be used. Further information for owners and operators of UPSSs is available by clicking here.

Abandoned UPSSs

Abandoned storage systems are those that were not in use on 31 March 2010 and haven’t been used since. If you intend to use an abandoned storage system, you must test the integrity of the system to ensure that it is sound and register it with the EPA Division. Once a UPSS is in use you must comply with all the requirements under the UPSS Regulations for active/operational UPSSs.

While there are no requirements under the UPSS Regulations to decommission an abandoned storage system, it is recommended that abandoned storage systems be decommissioned where possible to ensure that environmental harm isn’t occurring. There are also a number of circumstances where you may need to decommission a UPSS, including (but not limited to):

  • A purchaser may require this as a condition of sale;
  • The local Planning Authority may require this before approving changes in land use or site redevelopment; or
  • Your financial institution may require this before lending money to purchase a property.

If it is decided that a UPSS is to be decommissioned, the decommissioning requirements of the UPSS Regulations must be adhered to (click here for further information). The requirements include an environmental consultant taking soil (and potentially groundwater) samples in the vicinity of the UPSS to determine whether the storage system has leaked and whether any leaks are posing a risk to the environment, including human health. If a risk is identified, the landowner may be liable for further investigation and/or cleanup of the contamination.

Redevelopment

Please note that the decommissioning requirements only address contamination issues in the immediate vicinity of the UPSS.  As such the UPSS Decommissioning Report does not represent a complete environmental site assessment. Should the site be redeveloped or a land use change be proposed, the Planning Authority may require a full site assessment. In this case, while the information in the Decommissioning Report may be relevant, the remainder of the site will need to be assessed to ensure that it is suitable for its intended use. Further information is available on the Contaminated Land and the Planning Process web page.

Past Contamination History

The EPA Division maintains a number of databases including:

  • The Contaminated Sites Unit database for records of land and water contamination;
  • The Environmentally Relevant Land Use Register (ERLUR) for selected potentially contaminating activities that may have been historically (prior to 1992) undertaken;
  • The Underground Petroleum Storage System (UPSS) database for records of UPSS;
  • The New Environmental Licensing and Monitoring System (NELMS) database for permits or notices that may have been issued (i.e. sites the EPA Division regulates); and
  • The Incidents & Complaints database for any records of complaints or notification of incidents received by the EPA Division.
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A member of the public can submit a Property Information Request (PIR) to have the above-mentioned databases searched for records in relation to a particular property.  This information is often useful to potential purchasers of a property who want to determine if there are any known environmental issues relating to a property prior to purchasing the site. However, it should be noted that there are limitations to the information that a PIR search may provide – please see the PIR bulletin (link above) for more information.

 

For further information

Contaminated Sites Unit
134 Macquarie Street
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 4594 Fax: 03 6233 3800
Email: EnvironmentEnquiries@environment.tas.gov.au