Puzzle over gas tank near new flats


The close proximity of a service station gas tank to dwellings under construction in Larapinta Drive has authorities, the owner and the land developers scratching their heads.
The tank, as well as “fuel points” through which underground tanks are being filled, are on the western boundary of Mobil Larapinta. The nearest flats under construction next-door are within about two metres.
Tony Connor, part-owner of the long established servo, says so far as he knows there are no regulations about the positioning of gas tanks in the NT.
When the tank was installed he used as his guide requirements in force interstate – a 12 metre distance from the service station building.
Significantly, he says he also drew to the attention of the Department of Lands the position of the tank and fill points when the development application for next door was being processed.
Now Mr Connor is seeking advice from Caltex – but it’s not to hand as yet.
And the developer next-door, Probuild, is erecting a 2.1 metre wall on the boundary.
Probuild’s Phil Danby says “the tanks are on someone else’s land,” and what is being built on Probuild’s land is in complete accord with the statutory permissions granted.
Mr Connor says it is rare for the gas tank to vent: it usually happens in temperatures exceeding 45 degrees, and sprinklers to cool the tank are activated manually.
However, this depends on someone noticing the venting.
Mr Connor says there is no solution to the problem at the moment: “We don’t have anywhere else to put the gas tank, nor the fill points,” he says.
The prevailing winds in Alice Springs are south-easterly which puts some flats down-wind from the gas tank.


  1. Not Tony Connor’s problem at all.
    The developers and the regulatory authorities have an issue on their hands, that should not impact the service station, that has been operating on that site for yonks.
    I’m just curious how Probuild is going to get a Certificate of Occupancy, or will the NT Government make accommodations in the name of progress, as they seem to do when something becomes too hard?

  2. Prime example of how the building industry has hijacked common sense and is bullying the government into doing what they want.
    Mr Danby appears quick to pass the buck but it’s his project which is still in construction and it is irresponsible for a builder to have built his houses so close to the tanks. It’s an obvious safety risk that was there when you started work.
    Mr Connor seems to show genuine concern and is willing to investigate further, but he shouldn’t have to flip the bill for moving them. The department obviously shouldn’t have allowed the construction to take place without modifying the design of the housing to allow for the surrounding property’s characteristics.
    An explosion in the night would no doubt kill the families sleeping next door. Mr Danby – don’t build new houses next to this potential hazard.

  3. This is unreal. Surely Probuild would have noticed they were building too close to a fuel storage tank which has been there for years, next to vacant land.
    Scary with all the rumblings of earth moving equipment etc going on next door to the tank.
    Someone has to be made accountable and not the servo. Wouldn’t want to buy those units.

  4. It’s a classic sign that “the money network of business nobs” have got the ASTC and the NT Government wrapped around their wallets.
    If I put plans in for a garden shed adjacent to my boundary I will get notice that, to house my spade and rake, I will need to move it another 130mm.
    But to have a gas cylinder with the potential of a military grade explosion, somehow Mr Danby can get as close as he likes. How did this get past ASTC??
    Answers please?

  5. OK, this looks scary, but is it? And is it illegal?
    From the story, there are no regulations about the positioning of gas tanks in the NT. If true, then the 2.1 meter fence they are building sounds like the firewall fence erected when anyone builds on a boundary, and Probuild is in the clear legally.
    Perhaps they could offer to extend a roof from the firewall fence over the gas tank for shade on the hottest days. They could include a sprinkler system triggered by a thermostat to reduce the chance of venting.
    I’d like to think a way around this could be found. Otherwise, from the photo, it looks like two and maybe three flats could have to come down.
    And might it be time for the NT Government to think about sensible legislation to prevent this from happening again?

  6. Not sure about other states and not sure if this tank fits the size limits of 5,000 litres, but either way it is specifying a safe distance of at least 10m.
    I have captured and source a portion here. The whole guideline is available at the website at the end of my comment.
    Subdivision 21AA – Fuel tanks and gas storage
    2.42AB. Development standards
    The standards specified for that development are that the development must:
    (b) be located at least 20m from the primary road frontage of the lot and at least 10m from each other lot boundary,

  7. There are two Acts in place currently that prohibit this circumstance from existing, both “regulated” by NT Worksafe.
    So that’s the end of it.
    Wouldn’t happen anywhere else in Australia.


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