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Improved Management of Underground Fuel Tanks

Public comment is being sought on methods to improve the environmental management of underground fuel tanks in Tasmania.

The Minister for Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts Michelle O’Byrne today released an Issues and Options Paper on ‘A Proposed Regulatory Model for Managing the Environmental Impacts of Underground Petroleum Storage Systems’.

"Leaking underground fuel tanks, and the impact that they cause to the environment and human health, are a significant environmental issue," the Minister said.

"When a fuel tank leaks, the impact on neighbours and the environment, as well as the cost to clean up the contamination can substantial. At one Tasmanian service station, remediation of fuel that leaked from tanks and lines is expected to cost more than .2 million. It is common sense to prevent pollution in the first place rather than clean it up after the event, and that is the purpose of the proposed regulatory model.

‘The Issues and Options Paper released today provides information on the issues that need to be addressed by a regulatory model, as well as information on the different models that could be implemented," she said.

It is estimated that there are 1000 underground fuel tanks in Tasmania.

Leaking underground petroleum storage systems are recognised as a significant source of soil and groundwater contamination. Polluted groundwater can also result in the contamination of streams and waterways.

Other states including New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia and some local councils, are developing or have developed management systems for underground petroleum storage systems.

"I urge everyone that owns or operates an underground fuel tank to provide comment on the Issues and Options Paper so that the regulatory model can be developed with a complete knowledge of the likely social and economic impacts of any requirements" the Minister said.

"It is my intention to improve the environmental performance of this industry and the comments will help the Environment Division to develop the best possible regulatory option", Ms O’Byrne said.

The five-week public comment period ends on Friday 6 June 2008.

Copies of the Issues and Options Paper and the Summary can be downloaded from: www.environment.tas.gov.au/upss.html