insights

fuel leak detection

Russell Dupuy 02 Aug 2017 By Russell Dupuy

Would your fuel site pass a surprise compliance audit?

To ensure fuel sites are compliant and that their leak prevention measures are working, the EPA has been conducting random on-site audits. In the two years since the EPA started the program, you may have had a visit from their auditors.

How confident are you that your site would pass an audit from the EPA?

While the purpose of the audits is primarily educational and for data collection, no visit from the EPA should be treated lightly.

The 10,000L leak: A modern day horror story for fuel site owners

The EPA has good reason to push compliance measures onto fuel sites. Despite their efforts in educating, warning, and following up compliance procedures with fuel site owners, disastrous and preventable leaks still manage to occur.

Recently, a small, independently owned service station lost 10,000L in fuel overnight due to a leaking tank. By the next morning, the tank was nearly empty, and the entire delivery from the night before had gone to ground.

The service station had gone through a recent change in ownership, and the new owners failed to provide any data for leak detection, despite follow-ups from EMS. Unfortunately, one of the tanks had started to leak shortly after the change in ownership. This leak would have been identified much sooner had a leak detection system been in place, and would have prevented the catastrophic sudden loss of 10,000 L and minimised the risk to the environment. Not only did the new site owner incur a loss of profit from the leak, they are also now wrapped up in years of legal battles and extensive fines because the contamination could have easily been reduced if the site had been compliant. Furthermore, the clean-up costs of contaminated soil and groundwater can range between $100,000 to over $1 million dollars and is at the expense of the fuel site owner.

Forget Freddy Krueger, a catastrophic leak of this size is the real stuff of nightmares!

How compliant is your fuel site? Take the test now!

In October last year, a self-evaluation checklist was issued by EPA Victoria to assist fuel site owners in reducing the risk of leaks at their site. The self-evaluation checklist was well-received; with 83% of 1400 sites completing the self-assessment.

The self-evaluation is a valuable tool for identifying and assessing inefficiencies in your leak detection management and is an informative resource on the actions needed to improve site compliance.

The self-evaluation is designed to help site owners identify areas of improvement in their fuel management, such as:

  • Assessing the performance of leak detection methods;
  • Improving SIR data;
  • Assessing the sensitivity of the fuel site;
  • Assessing the effectiveness of groundwater monitoring practices; and,
  • Providing actions and follow-up measures to ensure your fuel site is optimised for loss prevention.

While the self-evaluation checklist was issued for Victorian fuel site owners, those operating a fuel site interstate can utilise the checklist to assess and detect the inefficiencies in their leak detection systems.

Click here to download your copy of the EPA self-evaluation checklist.

Want further assistance with your self-evaluation, or would like to talk to someone about the results of your self-evaluation? EMS are happy to help – give us a call on 1300 367 783.

But, my fuel site is already compliant…

Unfortunately, no tank is infallible to leakage. Despite running a compliant fuel site for years, submitting your data on time, and monitoring your tank inventory regularly, a leak can still occur.

However, before you say ‘What’s the point, then?’ and delete your recently downloaded self-evaluation checklist, there is a silver lining to running a compliant site. Being compliant allows you to detect leaks or problems with your tank sooner, minimising the overall risk of contamination and damage.

Additionally, if a leak does occur, the EPA takes into consideration your efforts to reduce risk and minimise environmental contamination. In our 10, 000L example, the new site owner was not protected from any financial and legal repercussions because there was not a compliant leak detection system in place. Furthermore, the previous owner could demonstrate through EMS compliance reports that the tank was operating within EPA thresholds throughout his management.

If you’re a fuel site owner, you should be proactively ensuring that your site is compliant, not just to avoid ongoing issues with the EPA, but to ensure that you’re getting the most ROI out of your service station.

While contamination clean-ups can cost upwards of $1m, SIRA can provide leak detection for only a small monthly fee and comes with the peace of mind of knowing that you are compliant even if disaster strikes.

To find out more about the leak detection solutions available and how you can improve your fuel site compliance, discover EMS’ leak detection solution, Greenscan.