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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

24 October 2005

How clean is the fuel you buy?


The Australian Government has a new secret weapon to ensure that the fuel you buy at the bowser meets the high standards of the Fuels Quality Standards Act 2000, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said today.

Checks are now being made by a new fuel sampling team operating throughout NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT in a specially-designed vehicle to make sure fuel is up to scratch. These checks will be over and above those already under taken in others states.

The Minister caught up with the testing vehicle in Elwood today as it made its way around Victoria.

“The team’s vehicle has been tailor-made to make handling fuel samples safer and more efficient and to allow new, high technology testing equipment to be used,” he said.

“Team members are trained in drawing fuel samples. They transfer these to a laboratory where they are tested with the results reported to the Department of the Environment and Heritage. Previously, fuel sampling was carried out by state-based agencies on behalf of the Australian Government.”

In 2004-05, 869 fuel samples had been taken from around Australia, with 33 (or 4 per cent) being found not to meet the standards. Of these, 26 were from NSW and seven from Victoria.

Since July 2005, 342 fuel samples had been taken, 246 of which were drawn by the DEH fuel testing team. Two of the samples taken by the team had not complied with the standards – one was from NSW and the other was from Victoria. Both were diesel with sulfur levels above the allowable 500 parts per million.

“The Department is currently investigating non-compliant fuels and has found suppliers in both NSW and Victoria who are adulterating automotive diesel and on-selling to consumers,” he said.

“In the case of petrol, a number of instances have been detected of standard unleaded petrol being substituted for premium unleaded. We have also found cases where petrol has been supplied with more than 10 per cent ethanol.

“Suppliers should not need to be reminded that offences under the Act can lead to substantial fines. Corporations, for example, face a maximum penalty of $275 000 for altering or supplying fuel that does not comply with a fuel standard.

“Good quality fuels help to ensure better, cleaner emissions, more effective engine operation, and reduced pollution.

“Fuel quality standards have an ongoing positive impact on reducing the amount of noxious pollutants emitted by vehicles, including benzene, oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons, and particles.”

For more information about fuel standards visit www.deh.gov.au/atmosphere/cleaner-fuels/index.html

Media Contact:
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia