Article Index

Solutions to pollution for storage of liquids 

Under the Clean Waters Act 1970, it is an offence to store material in such a way that there is the potential for water pollution to occur. 

Storage recommendations

Typical types of liquid found within many industrial and some commercial premises. They include the storage of liquids such as oils, solvents, fuels, acids and paints. Safety plans, codes and licences required by authorities administering relevant legislation, such as the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Work Cover Authority and the NSW Fire Brigade.

A number of substances have been designated as Dangerous Goods, and their use and storage is controlled by the Dangerous Goods Regulation. Dangerous Goods are those substances that are classified under nine classes according to the NSW Dangerous Goods Act 1975. Most substances that come under these classes must be licensed. For more information regarding the storage of Dangerous Goods, contact the WorkCover Authority on (02) 9370 5000. 

Where should liquids be stored? 

One simple approach to ensure that your liquid storage area does not create a threat to the local environment is to store your liquids inside, at a location that will not cause stormwater pollution. Within your premises store your liquids away from stormwater drains. It is important to check your storage areas periodically to make sure that there are no leaks or spills. 

If inside storage is not possible, liquid storage tanks and drums should be located in a covered and bunded area. This prevents any spills from contaminating the surrounding land or from entering stormwater drains. 

What should you do if there is a spill?

For large scale hazardous spills contact the NSW Fire Brigade (000) immediately for help with cleanup operations. 

For cleanup of small scale spills, consult the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the chemicals involved in the spill. These data sheets provide relevant information for specific liquid types, and are available from chemical manufacturers and suppliers. The MSDS gives advice on handling, storage and cleanup procedures for liquid chemicals. Your workplace should keep copies of the MSDS for each product that is used.

The following general procedures are recommended in the event of small emergency spills:

  • Stop the spill: Stop the source of the spill immediately, if it is safe to do so, in a way that is appropriate to the chemicals involved. This will reduce the level of possible contamination to the environment. 
  • Contain the spill: Control the flow of the spill and contain the spill appropriate to the type of liquid involved. (Refer to the Material Safety Data Sheet.) Prevent the spill from entering any storm water drains, by isolating drain inlets. 
  • Clean up the spill: Clean up the spill by referring to the Material Safety Data Sheets for the type of chemical involved. Cleaning up a spill promptly will help to protect the local environment. 

It is important to clean up all spills quickly - even small ones such as oil spills, as these can easily flow into stormwater drains or be washed there by rain.