SPCC Regulations

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SPCC Regulations
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.

A Facility Owner/Operator’s Guide to Oil Pollution Prevention

A brief guide on Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule requirements for facility owners and operators.

A Facility Owner/Operator’s Guide to Oil Pollution Prevention (PDF)(10 pp, 2 MB)

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.

Useful Containment products: Spill Berms and Bladder Tanks

The SPCC rule has streamlined requirements for “qualified facilities” — that is, facilities:

  • with smaller oil storage capacity,
  • and that have not had oil spills.

The owner or operator of a “qualified facility” can prepare and self-certify an SPCC Plan rather than have a Professional Engineer (PE) review and certify the Plan.

There are two types of qualified facilities, Tier I and II. To determine if you have a qualified facility, you need to:

  • know the total capacity of above ground oil storage containers at the facility, and
  • information on oil spills from the facility for the past three years.

Qualified Facility Applicability

If the facility total aboveground oil storage capacity is 10,000 gallons or less…
And… And the facility has… Then the facility is a:
In the three years before the SPCC Plan is certified, the facility has had no discharges to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines as described below:

  • A single discharge of oil greater than 1,000 gallons, or
  • Two discharges of oil each greater than 42 gallons within any 12-month period.
No individual aboveground oil containers greater than 5,000 gallons; Tier I Qualified Facility:
Complete and self-certify Plan template (Appendix G to 40 CFR part 112) in lieu of a full PE-certified Plan or other self-certified SPCC Plan.
Any individual aboveground oil container greater than 5,000 gallons; Tier II Qualified Facility:
Prepare a self-certified Plan in accordance with all applicable requirements of §112.7 and subparts B or C of the rule, in lieu of a PE-certified Plan.

Please note: This does not include discharges that are the result of natural disasters, acts of war, or terrorism. When determining the applicability of this SPCC reporting requirement, the gallon amount(s) specified (either 1,000 or 42) refers to the amount of oil that actually reaches navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. It is not the total amount of oil spilled. EPA considers the entire volume of the discharge to be oil for the purposes of these reporting requirements.

For more information, please see: Fact Sheet: Is My Facility a “Qualified Facility” under the SPCC Rule? This fact sheet:

  • guides you through SPCC qualified facility applicability;
  • explains how to certify your Plan;
  • helps you determine if you are eligible to use the SPCC Plan template; and
  • summarizes the spill prevention measures to include in your Plan.

If you have a Tier I Qualified Facility, copies of the SPCC Plan template and examples of completed Plan templates are available to assist you in developing your Plan.

Self-certification is an optional alternative to PE certification of the Plan. However, please note that some states do not allow self-certification. You should consult with your state to ensure that SPCC Plan certification is not limited to PEs. A list of State Professional Engineer (PE) licensing board contacts is available.

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

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.
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.

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

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 truck 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

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

Not 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.