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 oil spills that could reach navigable waters. 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 tank).
The elements of the SPCC Plan include:
- Discussion of conformance with federal regulations;
- Facility description, diagram, and contacts;
- Tank information
- Discharge prevention and control measures
- Discharge countermeasures and recovered material disposal methods
- Discharge notification information and procedures
- Potential spill predictions (volumes, rates, and quantities)
- Written inspection and/or test procedures
- 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."
California State Law
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 drill, produce, gather, 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) the facility 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. The federal SPCC rule even includes milk!
Changes in the Federal Rule
On July 17, 2002, US EPA first adopted revisions to the SPCC rule. Multiple amendments, at least five, were then made. The revised rule and subsequent amendments changed SPCC requirements.
Highlights of Final Rule
- Exempts completely buried storage tanks subject to all of the technical requirements of the UST regulations (40 CFR Parts 280 or 281)
- Exempts portions of certain facilities or any facility used exclusively for wastewater treatment
- Establishes Tiers 1, 2 and All Other Facilities with different requirements for each
- Establishes Self-Certification option for Tier 1 and some Tier 2
- Establishes a de minimis container size of less than 55 gallons
- Establishes an aboveground storage capacity threshold of greater than 1,320 gallons
- Allows deviations from most 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 review/update period to 5 years
- Requires facilities to implement several formerly-optional facility attributes, including security fencing and secondary containment
Where do Things Stand Today?
EPA published a final rule amending the SPCC Rule in the Federal Register on June 19, 2009. This action extends the SPCC compliance dates in §112.3(a), (b), and (c) for all facilities until November 10, 2010. No further extensions are expected.
Condor can assist with developing or amending your SPCC. Our engineering staff, including Registered Professional Engineers, can review and certify your self-developed plan, can amend your plan to meet the new requirements, or can prepare a new plan for you.