Fundamentals of SPCC Plans

Published On: August 9, 2022

The purpose of the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule, promulgated under 40 CFR 112, is to prevent discharge of oil into navigable waters of the U.S. or adjoining shore lines.  In order to better understand the SPCC rule, below are some of the fundamentals of the SPCC rule and SPCC plans.

  • A SPCC plan is required for any facility storing oil or oil-related products in quantities greater than 1,320 gallons in aboveground storage containers and/or more than 42,000 gallons in underground storage containers, that is a non-transportation related facility and where a possible release can reach U.S. waters. Only oil storage containers with capacities of 55-gallons or greater should be counted when making a determination.
  • The rule requires the plan to implement containment and countermeasures to prevent oil discharges. The plan also outlines the steps to take in case a discharge of oil was to occur at the facility. The SPCC plan must also include the training of employees on preventing, preparing for and responding to oil discharges to U.S. waters. These steps would include who to contact at the facility in case of a discharge, the amount of discharge that would be considered reportable as well as the local, state and federal agencies to call if a spill were to occur. The facility must keep maintenance and inspection records on-site for a three year period. The facility also needs to do integrity testing on all storage tanks every five years.
  • Most SPCC plans are required to be certified by a Professional Engineer (PE). When the PE certifies the plan, he or she is stating the plan is prepared in accordance with good engineering practices, that testing and inspection procedures are established and the plan covers all possible spills and discharges of oil at the facility. A plan can deviate from SPCC requirements using the Environmental Equivalence Provision (40 CFR 112.7(a)(2)) as long as the plan explains reasons for nonconformance, provides equivalent environmental protection with alternate measures and is certified by the PE who has verified the measures are appropriate and meet good engineering practices.

The SPCC rule allows certain facilities to self-certify an SPCC plan.  However, a self- certified SPCC plan must comply with ALL requirements of the SPCC rule, including the periodic integrity testing of bulk storage containers.

  • A facility must submit a report to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the following conditions:
    • The facility discharges more than 1,000 gallons of oil in a single discharge; or,
    • The facility discharges oil in quantities of greater than 42 gallons in each of two spill events within any 12 month period.

The facility must submit the following information to the EPA Regional Administrator and the appropriate state agency within 60 days of the incident:

  • Name of facility
  • Name of owner/operator
  • Location of the facility
  • Maximum storage or handling capacity and normal daily throughput of oil;
  • Corrective action and countermeasure taken, including equipment repairs and replacements
  • Adequate description of facility including maps, flow diagrams, and topographical maps, as necessary
  • The cause of the discharge including a failure analysis
  • Additional preventative measures taken or contemplated to minimize possibility of reoccurrence
  • Such other information that may be reasonable required pertinent to the plan or the discharge

Note: There may be additional reporting responsibilities and requirements from state or local agencies.

  • A facility must be able to follow their plan completely for it to be properly implemented. For example, if the SPCC plan calls for weekly inspections, then a representative at the facility will need to follow through with these inspection items and keep detailed documentations.
  • Integrity testing is required to ensure the strength of the container shell, bottom and/or floor to contain oil. Integrity testing should be done in accordance with good engineering practice, considering applicable industry standards. The rule does allow the PE to deviate from integrity testing requirements if other measures and/or controls provide equivalent environmental protection.
  • There were several amendments to the SPCC rule, many of them dealing with exemptions. The exemptions established in the final SPCC rule are for:
  • Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) containers;
  • Pesticide application equipment and related mix containers used at farms; and,
  • Milk and milk product containers, associated piping and appurtenances.

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