Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan Applicability

Date Posted: 06/06/2022

The goal of the Oil Pollution Prevention regulation under 40 CFR 112, which is part of the larger Clean Water Act, is to prevent oil from reaching navigable waters and adjoining shorelines, and to contain discharges of oil. One key element is the development and implementation of a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan. It’s important for facilities to understand when they are required to have an SPCC Plan, and whether they can self-certify.

The SPCC regulation applies to on-shore, non-transportation-related facilities that drill, produce, store, process, refine, transfer, distribute, use, or consume oil, and could be reasonably expected to discharge oil in quantities that may be harmful into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. Facilities that meet such regulation criteria must also have a total aggregate capacity of:

  • Aboveground oil storage of greater than 1,320 gallons kept in containers and/or oil-filled equipment with a capacity of 55 gallons or greater; or
  • Completely buried oil storage tanks containing greater than 42,000 gallons kept in containers with a capacity of 55 gallons or greater.

When determining storage capacity, a facility must use the shell capacity of the container (maximum volume) and not the actual amount of product stored in the container (operational volume).

When identifying which containers store greater than 55 gallons of oil, the facility must include oil of any type and in any form, including but not limited to: petroleum; fuel oil; sludge; oil refuse; oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil; fats, oils or greases of animal, fish, or marine mammal origin; vegetable oils, including oil from seeds, nuts, fruits or kernels; and other oils and greases including synthetic oils and mineral oils.

The facility owner or operator prepares the SPCC plan which details the equipment, workforce, procedures, and steps to prevent, control, and provide adequate countermeasures to a discharge including secondary containment, spill response preparations, and management commitment.

After a plan has been developed, the facility must look at additional storage criteria as it relates to either self-certification of the SPCC plan or requiring review and certification from a Professional Engineer.

  • Self-certifiable Tier I SPCC Plan applies to facilities that:
    • have less than 10,000 gallons of “oil” in aboveground storage containers;
    • have aboveground storage containers smaller than 5,000 gallons; and
    • has not had, in the last three years prior to the date the SPCC plan is certified, one single discharge of oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines exceeding 1,000 gallons, or two discharges of oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines each exceeding 42 gallons within any 12-month period.
  • Self-certifiable Tier II SPCC Plan applies to facilities that:
    • have less than 10,000 gallons of “oil” in aboveground storage containers;
    • have aboveground storage containers larger than 5,000 gallons; and
    • meets all Tier I discharge conditions.
  • Professional Engineer certified Full SPCC plan applies to facilities that:
    • have over 10,000 gallons of “oil”, regardless of container size, in aboveground storage containers; and/or
    • have underground storage tanks with “oil” storage capacity of at least 42,000 gallons.

A spill of only one gallon of oil can contaminate a million gallons of water. Through proper care and planning, efforts can be made to prevent oil spills and to clean them up promptly when they occur. Facilities that store oil products have a legal obligation to follow the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations as they pertain to them.

How Safety Management Suite Can Help

Staying in compliance with Federal environmental regulations is challenging, especially when there are so many variables to consider. We offer SPCC plan templates and checklists, along with the ability to ask SPCC-related questions through the Expert Help tool. The Subject Matter Experts who support the J. J. Keller SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE will provide a response within one business day.

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