The goal of Federal Oil Pollution Prevention regulation in 40 CFR Part 112 is to prevent oil discharges from reaching navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines. As a cornerstone of EPA’s strategy to prevent oil spills from reaching our nation’s waters, the EPA requires that certain facilities develop and implement oil spill prevention, control, and countermeasure, or SPCC Plans. Unlike oil spill contingency plans that typically address spill cleanup measures after a spill has occurred, SPCC Plans ensure that facilities put in place containment and other countermeasures that would prevent an oil spill from reaching shorelines or navigable waters of the U.S. A spill contingency plan is required as part of the SPCC Plan if a facility is unable to provide secondary containment (e.g., berms surrounding the oil storage container).
The elements of the SPCC Plan include:
- Discussion of conformance with federal regulations;
- Facility description, diagram, and contacts;
- Container capacity and identification of container contents
- Discharge prevention and control measures
- Discharge countermeasures and recovered material disposal methods
- Discharge notification information and procedures
- Potential spill predictions (volumes, rates, flow direction, and quantities)
- Written inspection and/or test procedures
- Non-destructive container integrity testing requirements
- Personnel training
- Site security
The regulations require that a Registered Professional Engineer certify that the SPCC Plan has been prepared in accordance with “good engineering practice, including consideration of applicable industry standards.”
In 1989, the California Legislature found that in order to protect the state’s people and natural resources from aboveground petroleum storage tank spills, an inspection program was necessary. The Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act (Act) became effective January 1, 1990. In general, the Act requires owners or operators of aboveground petroleum storage tanks to file a storage statement, pay a fee, and prepare and implement a federal SPCC plan. The Act is now implemented by local Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPAs) in California.
Who is subject to the law, and who is exempt?
The SPCC rule applies to owners or operators of facilities that store, use, process, refine, transfer, distribute, or consume oil and oil products. The federal regulations have three basic criteria before a facility is subject to the rule: (1) it must be non-transportation related; (2) it must have an aggregate aboveground storage capacity of 1,320 gallons or a completely buried storage capacity of 42,000 gallons; and (3) there must be a reasonable expectation of a discharge into or upon navigable water of the United States. The California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has limited the exception identified as item 3 in the preceding sentence by issuing the opinion that all aboveground petroleum tanks in California have a reasonable probability of discharging into navigable waters of the State. The Act and the SWRCB opinion noted in the preceding paragraph apply only to petroleum.
Oil is defined by the Federal rule to include: petroleum; fuel oil; sludge; oil refuse; fats, oils or greases of animal, fish, or marine mammal; vegetable oils including oils from seeds, nuts, fruits, or kernels; synthetic oils; and mineral oils. A rule of thumb offered by EPA: If the material can cause a sheen, sludge or emulsion in or on surface waters, then it is likely an oil or has oil properties.
Changes in the Federal Rule
On November 5, 2009, US EPA adopted revisions to the SPCC rule. The revised rule reduces the number of facilities regulated and changes some requirements.
Highlights of SPCC Rule
- Promulgates SPCC rule changes adopted December, 2008
- Excludes oil production and farm loading and unloading rack requirements contained in the December, 2008 SPCC rule changes
- Excludes hot asphalt mix containers from being included in SPCC Plans
- Allows deviations from most SPCC rule provisions (with the exception of secondary containment requirements) when equivalent environmental protection is provided
- Provides for a flexible plan format, but requires a cross-reference showing that all regulatory requirements are met
- Clarifies rule applicability to the storage and operational use of oil
- Increases the SPCC Plan review/update period to five years
- Requires regular non-destructive container inspections consistent with industry standards promoted by the Steel Tank Institute or the American Petroleum Institute
- Requires facilities to implement several formerly-optional facility attributes, including lighting and secondary containment
- Agriculture facilities i.e., dairies, farms, ranches, orchards, and vineyards, etc., are required to prepare an SPCC Plan if they meet SPCC Rule requirements for oil storage by May 10, 2013
Where do Things Stand Today?
EPA published a final rule amending the SPCC Rule in the Federal Register on November 5, 2009. The finalized amendments to the SPCC rule became effective on January 14, 2010. The U.S. EPA provides information regarding the finalized amendments on their website www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/spcc/spcc_nov09amend.htm.
Condor engineering staff, including Registered Professional Engineers, can review and certify your self-developed plan, develop a SPCC Plan, or can update your plan to meet the new requirements.
- SPCC Rule
- SPCC Rule – Section on Compliance Dates
- Finalized Amendments SPCC Rule
- Emergency Management Laws and Regulations
- SPCC Rule – Section on Guidance for Regional Inspectors
- SPCC Information for Farmers (PDF, 53KB)
- Emergency Management Policy and Guidence
- A PowerPoint presentation on the November 2009 Rule Amendments (PDF, 649 KB)