Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule

The purpose of a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan is to describe measures and procedures to prevent oil spills from occurring and, should a spill occur, to provide guidance for personnel to respond in a safe, effective, and timely manner to mitigate the impacts of the spill. SPCC plans must meet the requirements of Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 112 (40 CFR Part 112). In addition to the above, SPCC plans are used as a reference for oil storage information and testing records, as a tool to communicate practices on preventing and responding to discharges with employees, as a guide to facility inspections, and as a resource during emergency responses.

Regulatory Update:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced final amendments to the SPCC Rules on November 5, 2009. The revised rule is effective January 14, 2010. The EPA has extended the compliance date for the revisions for all facilities until November 10, 2011. All facilities, including farms, must amend or prepare, and implement SPCC plans by the compliance date in accordance with revisions to the SPCC rule promulgated since 2002.

Oil is Defined under the SPCC Rules as Follows:

The SPCC rule’s definition of oil originated from the Clean Water Act (CWA) as given in Section 311(a)(1). The CWA defines oil as “oil of any kind or in any form, including, but not limited to, petroleum, fuel oil, synthetic oils (synthesized include glycols, esters, polyalphaolefins, aromatics, silicone fluids), mineral oils, oil refuse, or oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil.” Petroleum oils include crude and refined petroleum products, asphalt, gasoline, fuel oils mineral oils, and naphtha.

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) compiled a list of substances it considers oil, based on the CWA definition. The list is available on the USCG Web site. Note, however, that the USCG list is not comprehensive and does not define “oil” for purposes of 40 CFR part 112. The EPA may determine that a substance, chemical, material, or mixture is an oil even if it is not on the USCG list.

Determining if a Facility Requires an SPCC Plan:

A facility that uses or stores oil, but does not transport petroleum as their primary purpose. This could include industrial, commercial, agricultural, or public facilities. Some examples include: oil storage, oil distributors, power generators, construction sites, marinas, sawmills, printers, airports, vehicle service, salvage yards, farms, solid waste districts, private residence, etc.

Aboveground oil storage capacity greater than or equal to 1,320 gallons (count any container that is 55 gallons or greater). The volume of all containers used to store oil, prior to use, or prior to further distribution must be counted. Completely buried underground storage tanks (UST) already compliant with the Federal Underground Storage Tank regulations and are exempt for SPCC requirements.

There is a potential that releases of oil from the facility could reach waters of the state.. The definition of “waters of the state” includes all waters used for interstate or foreign commerce, but also includes wetlands, lakes, ponds, wet meadows, etc. Basically any natural surface water in the United States is covered under the SPCC rule (as well as the Clean Water Act). These discharges can be from spilling, pumping, pouring, emptying, dumping, emitting, or leaking containers.

New Significant Provisions of SPCC Rules (November 2009):

New significant provisions to the SPCC rules include the following:

  • Bunkered tanks and partially buried tanks are considered above ground and are subject to the rule. The threshold for these tanks is a capacity of more than 55 gallons.
  • Facilities that have one (1) discharge of more than 1,000 gallons in a single discharge, or more than 42 gallons in each of two (2) discharges within a twelve (12) month period, are required to notify EPA and possibly revise their SPCC plans.
  • Secondary containment must be provided for the entire capacity of the largest compartment in a tank plus sufficient room for precipitation. If a Professional Engineer certifies that it is not “practicable” from an engineering standpoint to provide such containment, a facility may be exempt from this requirement if they can provide equivalent environmental protection and justification for the deviation.
  • Facilities must review their SPCC plans once every five (5) years. The SPCC plan must be updated to include more effective discharge prevention technology if such technology has been field-proven and will significantly reduce the likelihood of a discharge.
  • A security fence must be built with locked and/or guarded entrance gates when the facility is unattended.
  • Lighting must be installed around the bulk oil storage areas sufficient enough to assist in the discovery of discharges when it is dark by both the facility personnel and the general public.
  • A facility must provide some type mechanism or device to prevent discharges, such as alarms, pump cutoffs, or gauges, and regularly test such devices.
  • Annual discharge prevention training is only required for “oil handling employees.”
  • Visual inspection must be combined with another integrity testing on a regular basis and when repairs of storage containers has occurred. It also requires frequent inspections of the outside of containers for signs of deterioration, discharges, or accumulation of oil inside diked areas.
  • Deviations from most of the rule’s substantive requirements (except for containment requirements) is allowed, provided explanation for nonconformance is given. Any deviation requires equivalent environmental protection using an alternate measure. If the Regional Administrator determines that the alternate measure described in the SPCC plan does not provide equivalent protection, an amended plan will be required.

The November 2009 revisions to the SPCC rules also expands the definition of “navigable waters” to include interstate wetlands, intrastate waters that are or could be used for industrial purposes by industries in interstate commerce, tributaries to any waters that meet the definition of navigable waters, and wetlands adjacent to any waters meeting the definition. The broader definition of “navigable waters” means many more facilities will fall under the new rule.