"Frequently Asked Questions about an SPCC Plan"

What is an SPCC Plan?

An SPCC Plan is a written description of a facility's compliance with the requirements of 40CFR 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 spill.

Who has to have an SPCC Plan?

SPCC Plans are required for non-transportation related facilities that meet the following two criteria:
  • Facilities with above-ground (non-buried) oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons or buried underground oil storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons (not including the capacity of buried tanks that are currently subject to the requirements of 40CFR, Part 280 and 281).

  • Facilities that, because of their location, could reasonably be expected to discharge harmful quantities of oil into the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shoreline.

What is a “non-transportation related facility” ?

The term “non-transportation related facility” is fully defined in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretary of Transportation and the EPA Administrator, dated November 24, 1971. To paraphrase the MOU, non-transportation related facilities “are industrial, commercial, agricultural or public facilities which use and store oil, but excluding any terminal facility, unit or process integrally associated with the handling or transferring of oil in bulk to or from a vessel”. However, 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” so 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”.

How does the regulation define “oil”?

“Oil” is defined by 40CFR Part 112 as “oil of any kind or in any form, including but not limited to, petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, oil waste, and oil mixed with wastes, other than dredged spoil”. The EPA interprets this definition to include crude oil and refined petroleum products as well as non-petroleum oils such as vegetable and animal oils.

What are “navigable waters”?

“Navigable waters” are defined by 40CFR Part 112 as all waters that are, have been, or may be used in interstate or foreign commerce, including all waters subject to the ebb and flow of the tide. The definition includes interstate wetlands; intrastate lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats and natural ponds. Waters that are or could be used by interstate or foreign travelers for recreation or other purposes, and waters from which fish or shellfish could be taken and sold are also covered under the definition. A more complete definition of the term “navigable waters” can be found in section 502(7) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA).

How does the regulation define “harmful quantities”?

The term “harmful quantities” is defined in 40CFR Part 110.3, and includes discharges of oil that:
1. Violate applicable water quality standards; or
2. Cause a film or sheen upon or discoloration of the surface of the water; or
3. Cause a sludge or emulsion to be deposited beneath the surface of the water or upon adjoining shorelines.

What penalties are involved for non-compliance with 40 CFR Part 112?

Owners or operators that are subject to the regulation but violate the requirements of Part 112 by failing or refusing to comply are liable for civil penalties in accordance with the Clean Water Act (CWA), as amended by the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990. Penalties could be as high as $25,000 per day of violation.

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, as well as whether or not the facility has an existing SPCC Plan in place. Please contact us for a free estimate.

When must an SPCC Plan be amended and/or re-certified?

A facilities SPCC Plan must be reviewed and re-certified at least every five years, or whenever there is a change in the facilities design, construction, operation or maintenance that materially effects the facilities potential for discharging oil into or upon the navigable waters of the United States 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 1000 gallons of oil in a single spill event, or discharged oil in harmful quantities, or discharged more than 42 gallons in each of two spill events within any 12 month period.

*** Some text in the above FAQs has been quoted either in whole or in part from the Federal Register, 40 CFR Part 112, by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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