Above Ground Fuel Storage Tank Checklist and Regulations in Australia


Ensuring the safe and proper handling of above ground fuel storage tanks is a crucial responsibility. Strict regulations are in place to protect both the environment and human lives. Navigating the complexities of compliance can be a daunting task, which is why it is essential to understand the key factors and regulatory requirements in Australia.

At WA Refuelling, we are here to provide expert guidance and services to help you navigate these regulations with confidence.


Understanding Regulations in Australia

When it comes to managing above-ground fuel storage tanks, both federal and state regulations come into play. At the federal level, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is the primary piece of environmental protection legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities, and heritage places.

At the state level, regulations can vary. For example, in Western Australia, the Contaminated Sites Act 2003 governs the reporting, remediation, and management of contaminated sites, including those impacted by fuel storage tanks. It’s essential to familiarise oneself with state-specific legislation to ensure proper protocol adherence and avoid infringements.

An integral part of the regulatory landscape is the Australian Standard (AS) 1940, which outlines the requirements for the storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. It provides comprehensive guidelines on the design and construction of storage tanks, location and separation distance, safety systems and procedures, and fire protection facilities, to name a few.

In addition to federal and state regulations, businesses must also comply with local government and environmental requirements. Departments of Environment and Climate Change hold responsibility for overseeing certain operations involving dangerous substances. Local councils have specific rules for activities that pose potential environmental risks, such as the spillage of hazardous liquids.

Understanding and adhering to regional, state, and national regulations is an integral part of managing a compliant and efficient fuel storage system. Understanding the intricate details of these regulations ensures you are well-placed to protect the environment, the safety of the public and your business’s sustainability.


Standard Requirements for Above Ground Fuel Storage

The standard requirements for above ground fuel storage often revolve around safety, environmental protection, and efficiency. Below are some essential factors that underlie these standards:

  • Design and Installation: The structure and design of the tanks should conform to the AS 1940 standard, ensuring maximum safety and durability. This includes considerations for overflow containment measures, tank material, and the installation of necessary equipment such as ventilation and safety valves.
  • Inspection and Maintenance: Regular inspection, repair, and maintenance of the tanks are crucial. This could include leak detection, structural integrity checks, and equipment functionality analysis to circumvent potential mishaps.
  • Location: Tanks should be appropriately placed in an area that will minimise risks in the event of a fire or leak. It should be easy to access for essential maintenance but not so close to public areas that it poses a risk.
  • Fire Safety: Tanks should be equipped with fire safety equipment and should be surrounded by a certain amount of clear space to reduce fire spread risks.
  • Training: Staff should be adequately trained to handle emergency situations, and clear safety procedures should be documented and regularly reviewed.


NFPA Standard for Above Ground Fuel Tanks

While NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards originate from the USA, they are often referenced worldwide due to their comprehensive coverage of fire safety aspects. Specifically, NFPA 30 & NFPA 30A explore the flammable and combustible liquids’ safety aspect—where above ground fuel storage tanks fall under.

Some essential provisions in these NFPA standards include specifications on the construction of tanks, requirements for tank distance from property lines, public ways, and important buildings. Moreover, the standards cover safety aspects of operations, including unloading procedures and safety measures to prevent static electricity.

It’s important to note, Australian businesses must still prioritise compliance with local Australian Standards (e.g., AS 1940) which are the legally enforceable standards.


Guidelines for Above Ground Fuel Storage

Guidelines for above ground fuel storage serve to provide clarity and assistance in implementing enforceable standards. These guidelines often include best practices, recommended safety measures, and advice based on industry research and previous incidents.

Some common guidelines include:

  • Regular Inspections: Even though inspections may not be legally mandated daily, it is highly recommended to carry out frequent checks as preventing issues is often easier than addressing them once they have occurred.
  • Emergency Planning: Guidelines usually recommend having an explicit plan of action to handle leaks, fires, or spills. This includes providing adequate training for staff members so they can respond efficiently in emergency situations.
  • Environmental Mitigation: Many guidelines emphasise the importance of steps to minimise harm to the environment. This can include investing in double-walled tanks to prevent spills, utilising leak detection systems, and following best practices when transferring fuel to reduce the chance of spills.

While guidelines can offer a wealth of practical advice, it should be remembered that they serve to supplement and not replace relevant standards and regulations.


Compliance Audits and Inspections

A crucial aspect of maintaining an above-ground fuel storage tank’s overall regulatory integrity is ensuring adherence to compliance audits and inspections. These processes play a pivotal role in identifying potential safety hazards, environmental concerns and can prevent costly legal issues. In this section, we will explore the importance of regular compliance audits, fostering a collaborative relationship with regulators and inspectors, and addressing non-compliance issues as they arise.


1. Conducting regular compliance audits

Regular compliance audits involve a systematic review of the fuel storage system’s operations, practices, and record-keeping to ensure adherence to the applicable regulations and standards. This includes examining aspects like fuel tank design, containment measures, leak detection systems, and emergency response protocols. Performing these audits frequently enables businesses to identify potential compliance issues, reinforce best practices, and take corrective action before the situation escalates.

Conducting periodic internal audits, alongside scheduled external audits by certified professionals, is highly recommended. This collaborative approach will not only ensure compliance but also contribute to a more robust and dependable fuel storage system.


2. Working with regulators and inspectors

Maintaining a cooperative relationship with regulators and inspectors is a vital aspect of running a compliant above ground fuel storage facility. Inspectors have the expertise, resources, and authority to evaluate your fuel storage, identify potential risks, and provide guidance on regulatory updates, thus ensuring continuous compliance.

By actively engaging with inspectors, businesses can gather invaluable insights into the latest regulations and technology improvements, thereby enhancing their storage system’s safety and efficiency. Open communication between businesses and inspectors fosters a collaborative environment that upholds environmental protection, consumer safety and business interests.


3. Addressing non-compliance issues promptly

Non-compliance issues can occur despite the best efforts of businesses to maintain strict adherence to regulations. However, it is imperative to address these issues promptly to minimise legal consequences, financial penalties, and potential hazards. Timely detection and resolution contribute to the long-term stability, safety, and efficiency of the fuel storage system.

Some steps to promptly address non-compliance issues include:

  1. Developing a step-by-step action plan to rectify problems
  2. Allocating adequate resources and personnel to execute the corrective measures
  3. Regularly monitoring the implementation process to ensure the issues are resolved satisfactorily
  4. Proactively communicating with regulators to provide updates on the remediation progress


Compliance audits and inspections are essential components of maintaining a compliant above ground fuel storage tank system. By conducting regular audits, fostering positive relationships with regulators and inspectors, and responding proactively to non-compliance issues, businesses can reduce overall risk and bolster environmental protection and safety.

Choose Safety, Choose Compliance, Choose WA Refuelling!

Safety and compliance should never be a gamble, especially when dealing with above ground fuel storage tanks. Therefore, now, you may be asking yourself, “Who can I trust to ensure my fuel storage operations align entirely with the stipulated regulations?” The answer is simple – WA Refuelling.

We are equipped to ensure your fuel storage systems not only adhere to precise regulatory requirements but also operate efficiently. We also understand the intricacies of the guidelines and emphasise the necessity of regular checks, seamless cooperation with inspectors, and prompt redressal of non-compliance issues.

So, for peace of mind and a commitment to the highest standards of safety and regulation, turn to WA Refuelling. The right choice is just a click away!

Contact us today for customised assistance and outstanding customer service.