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image What is an SPCC Plan?
A Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan is a written description of a facility's compliance with the requirements of 40 CFR Part 112 (also known as the Oil Pollution Prevention Regulation). The plan details the equipment, manpower, procedures and steps to prevent, control and provide adequate countermeasures to an oil release.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all facilities develop, maintain and implement these plans. Unlike Oil Spill Contingency Plans that generally address spill cleanup measures in the aftermath of a release, SPCC Plans ensure that facilities put in place containment and other countermeasures that would prevent releases that could potentially reach navigable waters.

The SPCC Plan addresses topics such as spill prevention planning, response training, and mitigation planning and preparation. In most cases the program is managed by the US EPA, although certain states may also be involved.

Who is required to have an SPCC Plan?
Facilities with an above ground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons as well as any facility with underground tank storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons (and meeting two other requirements described below) are required to develop and implement an SPCC Plan.

Affected facilities must be non-transportation related. Included in this area is any industry that drills, produces, stores, processes, refines, transfers, distributes, uses or consumes oil or oil products. Some examples are: oil refining and storage facilities, oil drilling and production facilities, oil (including animal fat, vegetable oil, petroleum) storage facilities railroad car and truck oil tankers and their loading areas and loading equipment (within the confines of non-transportation related facilities, agricultural facilities, airports), and some waste treatment facilities. In addition, a real possibility must exist that an oil spill can occur which could potentially reach navigable waterways within the continental United States or along its coastlines or adjoining shorelines.

Several states have developed their own SPCC programs that are more stringent than the EPA SPCC Rule. RCP can assist your company with incorporating these additional requirements into your plan.

What are the certification requirements?
All facilities having greater than 10,000 gallons of oil storage capacity, with an above ground storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons; or any facility with underground tank storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons must have their plans certified by a PE.

If a facility has 10,000 gallons or less in aggregate aboveground oil storage capacity with no individual aboveground oil storage container greater than 5,000 gallons, and meets the oil discharge criteria*, then an owner/operator of a facility may prepare a Self-Certified Tier I Plan instead of one reviewed by a Professional Engineer (PE). In addition, if the facility has a container greater than 5,000 gallons, then it may prepare a Self-Certified Plan with all applicable requirements of §112.7 and Subparts B and C of the Rule in lieu of a PE-Certified Plan.

* The facility must not have had a single discharge of oil to navigable waters exceeding 1,000 US gallons; or two discharges of oil to navigable waters each exceeding 42 US gallons within any twelve-month period (in the three years prior to the SPCC Plan certification date), or since becoming subject to 40 CFR Part 112 if facility has been in operation for less than three years.

Which facilities are exempt from the SPCC requirements?
Underground storage tanks are exempt from SPCC requirements if they are subject to 40 CFR Parts 280 or 281. They must, however, be shown on the facility diagram. The SPCC requirements also do not apply to:

  • Containers with a storage capacity less than 55 US gallons of oil.
  • Permanently closed containers.
  • Motive power containers.
  • Wastewater treatment facilities.
  • Hot-mix asphalt and hot-mix asphalt containers.
  • Residential heating oil containers at single family residences.
  • Pesticide application equipment and related mix containers.
  • Completely buried storage tanks subject to all the technical requirements of the underground storage tank regulations.
  • Intra-facility gathering lines subject to US Department of Transportation’s pipeline regulations.
  • Underground oil storage tanks at nuclear power generation facilities.
When must an SPCC Plan be amended and/or re-certified?
The SPCC Plan must be reviewed and re-certified at least every five years, or whenever there is a change in the facility’s design, construction, operation or maintenance that materially affects its potential for discharging into the US navigable waterways or adjoining shorelines.

A plan may also have to be amended and re-certified at the request of the EPA Regional Administrator if the facility has discharged:
  • More than 1,000 gallons of oil in a single spill event; or
  • Oil in harmful quantities; or
  • More than 42 gallons in each of two spill events within any 12 month period.
What must an SPCC Plan include?
Based on current amendments to the SPCC Rule, a comprehensive SPCC Plan must contain a variety of administrative / procedural and technical information.

Administrative / procedural information should include:
  • Plan Review Log – a location where the owner’s representative certifies the plan has been reviewed. The plan must be reviewed by the owner every five years.
  • Cross-reference – Each SPCC Plan must include a means to allow referencing plan information using the numbering system of the federal rules (40 CFR Part 112).
  • Certifications – Facility ownership or management must attest to their commitment to provide the resources needed to implement the plan. A certifying engineer (PE) attests to the adequacy of the plan and its conformance with SPCC regulations.
  • Facility Conformance – Discuss features and procedures that bring the facility into compliance with the rules. Also discuss any deviations from the rules, and what measures are provided to achieve equivalent environmental protection.
  • Facility Description – Identification of all oil storage, handling, process / piping and security features; its usage; and how much is stored on site. Include a facility diagram or site plan showing items relating to oil storage and the SPCC Plan related features.
  • Discharge Predictions – Where the oil will flow if a primary containment (tank or piping) fails; flow rate and total quantity of oil that could potentially be released.
  • Release Prevention / Control Measures – Description of secondary containment features, and on-site spill response materials to prevent a release from reaching navigable waters.
  • Spill Response – Procedures and contacts for spill response, cleanup and reporting.
  • Contact List – Prepare a list of individuals and agencies to be contacted in the event of a discharge.
  • Waste Disposal – Discuss procedures for disposing of waste following a spill event cleanup.
  • Spill Reporting – Give criteria and procedures for reporting spills.
  • Training and Inspection – Provide a description of the owner’s training program for employees. Document procedures used for inspections.
  • Checklist – Plans must include a “Substantial Harm Criteria Checklist”. This list contains questions to determine if additional spill prevention planning measures are required, or if an SPCC Plan is considered sufficient.
  • Organization – Information in the plan should be organized for ease of use in an emergency.
Technical information which describes the physical facility features related to storing and containing oil, inspections, and securing the facility should include:
  • Storage – List all oil storage containers. Give the type of product stored and the capacity of each.
  • Discharge Predictions – Describe path in which a release could potentially occur and include quantity, rate of release and likely direction of travel. Show direction of travel on the facility drawing.
  • Containment – Discuss the containment and drainage features of the facility.
  • Inspection – Describe the routine and periodic inspections that are provided for oil containing equipment.
  • Security – Describe facility fencing, lighting, access control, and other features that contribute to the operational security and vandal resistance of the facility, as applicable.
What is the deadline for having an SPCC Plan in place and implemented?
EPA compliance dates for the SPCC Rule based on the November 13, 2009 Final Rule Amendments are as follows:

A facility starting operation...


On or before August 16, 2002

Continue to maintain its existing SPCC Plan in accordance with the SPCC Rule. Amend and implement that Plan no later than November 10, 2010.

After August 16, 2002, through November 10, 2010

Prepare and implement an SPCC Plan no later than November 10, 2010.

After November 10, 2010

Prepare and implement an SPCC Plan before beginning operations.*

*Owners or operators of new oil production facilities must prepare and implement an SPCC Plan six months after the start of operations.

What is a “non-transportation related facility”?
“Non-transportation related facilities” are defined as industrial, commercial, agricultural or public facilities that use (and store) oil. They are exclusive of any terminal facility, unit or process integrally associated with the handling or transferring of oil in bulk to or from a vessel. It must be noted, however, that the definition also includes loading racks, transfer hoses, loading arms and other equipment at a facility which are used to transfer oil to or from highway vehicles or railroad cars.

Highway vehicles, railroad cars and pipeline systems used to transport oil are considered “non-transportation related” as long as they are used exclusively within the confines of the facility. If they are used in interstate or intrastate commerce, then they are defined to be “transportation related."

What is considered “Bulk Storage”?
“Bulk storage” is any container with a capacity of 55 gallons or more.

Is it necessary to have secondary containment for all bulk oil storage?
YES. The secondary containment must hold the contents of the largest container PLUS freeboard for precipitation if outdoors. Properly designed double-walled storage tanks do not require additional containment. In cases where engineered passive containment systems or active secondary containment approaches are not practicable, an impracticability determination provision may be applied.

If secondary containment is in place, is there still a need for an SPCC Plan?
YES. A written plan with certification (unless a Tier I or Tier II facility) is still required if 1,320 gallons of oil are stored, regardless of secondary containment.

What is the procedure regarding lack of containment where trucks are loaded and unloaded?
A structure is required and must hold the largest single compartment of any truck loaded or unloaded. However, SPCC provisions exist so that it may not be necessary to build a loading pad or catch basin.

How does the regulation define “Oil”?
“Oil” is defined by 40 CFR Part 112 as, “oil of any kind or in any form, including, but not limited to: fats, oils, or greases of animal, fish, or marine mammal origin; vegetable oils, including oils from seeds, nuts, fruits, or kernels; and, other oils and greases, including petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, synthetic oils, mineral oils, oil refuse, or oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil.”

What are “Navigable Waters”?
On November 26, 2008, EPA announced the Vacatur of the July 17, 2002, revisions to the definition of "navigable waters” and restored the regulatory definition of "navigable waters" promulgated by EPA in 1973. The 1973 regulatory definition of "navigable waters" for the SPCC Rule reads as follows:

The term "navigable waters" of the United States means "navigable waters" as defined in section 502(7) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), and includes: (1) all navigable waters of the United States, as defined in judicial decisions prior to the passage of the 1972 Amendments of the FWPCA (Pub. L. 92-500) also known as the Clean Water Act (CWA), and tributaries of such waters as; (2) interstate waters; (3) intrastate lakes, rivers, and streams which are utilized by interstate travelers for recreational or other purposes; and (4) intrastate lakes, rivers, and streams from which fish or shellfish are taken and sold in interstate commerce.

Do company employees need to be trained?
YES. Employees handling oil products must complete training at least once a year on the proper operation and maintenance of the bulk oil facility to prevent spills and the proper response to control, contain, and clean up a spill. At a minimum, oil-handling personnel must be trained in the operation and maintenance of equipment to prevent discharges; discharge procedure protocols; applicable pollution control laws, rules, and regulations; general facility operations; and the contents of the facility SPCC Plan.

What are the procedures regarding a change in personnel who were listed in the SPCC Plan (or other non-technical Plan changes)?
Non-technical type changes (such as a change in personnel listed in the plan, change in phone numbers, etc.) can be noted in the SPCC Plan by writing in the updated information by hand. Certification of a PE is required only for technical changes (such as those that would “materially affect the facility's potential to discharge oil”).

What penalties are involved for non-compliance with 40 CFR Part 112?
Fines are normally assessed in proportion to the size of the facility. In 2009, fines administered by EPA for SPCC violations related to the Clean Water Act have ranged from $500 - $200,000. EPA has published a guidance document “SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors” to assist EPA inspectors in their review of an SPCC facility. This document is currently being revised to include the November, 2009 amendments.

What are the next steps in deciding whether an SPCC Plan is required or if it an existing plan needs to be revised?
The SPCC Rule and subsequent amendments are quite complex and require detailed attention. Whether you have an existing plan or believe you need a new plan, contact the professionals at RCP. We can develop a plan that meets the regulatory requirements and is specific for your needs. For more information call: Jessica Roger at 713-655-8080 or via email.

Why RCP?
RCP has a strong track record of providing world-class regulatory consulting and risk management services to our clients. RCP specializes in regulatory compliance issues, and has developed SPCC Plans for large and small companies, from single well sites to some of the largest refining / chemical complexes in the US. RCP is intimately familiar with all the most recent requirements, exemptions, and agency guidance, allowing us to efficiently develop plans that meet all state and federal requirements while minimizing the ongoing compliance burden on the operator.

Does RCP have professional engineers on staff?
YES. RCP is a registered Professional Engineering Corporation that employs licensed professional engineers (PE) with years of experience and expertise in preparing SPCC Plans specific for your company’s needs. We have all the necessary expertise “in house”.

How much does an SPCC Plan cost?
The cost of development and certification of an SPCC Plan is facility specific. Factors affecting the cost include the size and complexity of the facility (number of tanks, etc.), as well as whether or not the facility has an existing SPCC Plan in place. Please contact RCP for a free estimate.

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