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Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plans, 40 CFR 112

Quick Tips #317

To prevent the discharge of oil from non-transportation related onshore and offshore facilities into navigable waters of the United States (or adjoining shorelines), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that non-exempt facilities prepare spill prevention, control and countermeasures (SPCC) plans. The applicable regulations and requirements are found in 40 CFR 112.

How is oil defined in the spill prevention, control and countermeasures regulations?

Under these regulations, the term oil includes any form including, but not limited to, petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, oil refuse and oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil and oily mixtures. Animal and vegetable oils are also included.

What facilities are subject to these regulations?

A facility is subject to spill prevention, control and countermeasures regulations if it meets the following three criteria:

  1. The facility must be non-transportation related
  2. The facility must have a combined above-ground storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons OR a buried storage capacity storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons
  3. There must be a reasonable potential for a discharge into or upon the navigable waters of the United States (or adjoining shorelines)

Definition of navigable waters

Navigable waters are defined in section 502(7) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), the term includes:

  1. Waters of the United States, defined as navigable in judicial decisions prior to passage of the 1972 Amendments to the FWPCA (Pub. L. 92–500) and tributaries of such waters
  2. Interstate waters
  3. Intrastate lakes, rivers, and streams which are utilized by interstate travelers for recreational or other purposes
  4. Intrastate lakes, rivers, and streams from which fish or shellfish are taken and sold in interstate commerce
What is a non-transportation related facility?

Some examples of non-transportation related facilities are: oil refining or storage facilities, waste treatment facilities, oil-well drilling facilities (on-shore and off-shore), loading racks or areas and industrial, commercial, agricultural, or public facilities that store, use, produce, gather, process or consume oil or oil products.

Oil storage capacity

When calculating the oil storage capacity at a facility, the following must be taken into account: tanks, drums, containers, transformers, mobile/portable totes, oil filled equipment, and pipelines and machinery lines that carry oil. When determining the oil storage capacity, you must use the maximum volume (capacity) not the actual amount of oil that is in the container at any particular time.

Determining if a facility could reasonably discharge oil into navigable waters

When determining if a facility could reasonably discharge oil into navigable waters, factors that should be taken into account include:

  • The location of the facility relative to sewers (storm or sanitary), streams, ponds, farm tile drain systems or ditches
  • The volume of stored material
  • The distance to navigable waters (or adjoining shorelines)
  • Worst case weather conditions that would affect the movement of releases
  • Surface drainage patterns, surface gradient, and soil type(s) present at the facility and surrounding areas

According to the spill prevention, control and countermeasures regulations when determining if a facility could reasonably discharge oil into navigable waters you cannot take into account man-made features such as equipment, dikes or other structures that would restrain, hinder, contain or prevent an oil discharge

Plan contents

A spill prevention, control and countermeasures plan must discuss how the facility meets the requirements for oil spill prevention and containment. Per 40 CFR 112.7, the general requirements for SPCC plans include:

  • The plan must have full approval of management possessing the authority to commit the resources necessary for implementation
  • A diagram of the facility
  • A contact list and current phone numbers for the facility response coordinator, the National Response Center, cleanup contractors, and regulatory authorities who must be contacted in the event of a discharge/release
  • Trajectory analysis for each type of major equipment failure: the maximum potential discharge volume, flow direction and flow rate
  • A discussion of secondary containment and/or diversionary structures or equipment to prevent a discharge (where appropriate) or a demonstration that secondary containment and/or diversionary structures or equipment are not practical
  • Contingency plan(s) per 40 CFR 112.7 (d)
  • Discussion of inspections, tests, and recordkeeping (including periodic integrity/leak testing of bulk containers, valves and piping)
  • Personnel training and discharge prevention procedures
  • Facility security
  • Facility tank car and tank tuck loading/unloading racks
  • A brittle fracture evaluation of field-constructed above-ground containers
  • A written commitment of manpower, equipment and materials that will be used to control and remove spilled oil
  • A discussion of spill prevention and control measures for the facility
  • Certification of the plan by a licensed professional engineer
Certification of the plan

When a professional engineer certifies the spill prevention, control and countermeasures plan, it attests that the engineer is familiar with the requirements of 40 CFR 112, the engineer (or agent) has examined the facility and the plan is acceptable for that facility, the SPCC plan was prepared using good engineering practice (accounting for applicable industry standards) and in accordance with the requirements of 40 CFR 112, and that procedures for inspections and testing have been established.

Commonly Asked Questions

QAre spill prevention, control and countermeasures plans only required for facilities meeting oil storage requirements? ANot necessarily in some cases facilities may be required to prepare SPCC plans if materials on-site do not meet the definition of oils but there is potential to discharge into navigable waters of the United States. To determine if a facility needs to prepare a plan, contact your regional EPA office.

40 CFR 112

(Rev. 1/2012)

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Please Note:
The content in this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific compliance questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.

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