Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule Amended

Recent amendments to the SPCC rule clarify regulatory requirements, tailor requirements to particular industry sectors, and streamline certain requirements for facility owners or operators subject to the rule. With these changes, EPA expects to encourage greater compliance with the SPCC regulations, resulting in increased protection of human health and the environment.

Key amendments offer greater flexibility to industry as follows:

  • A category of qualified facilities (Tier I facilities) can complete a pre-formatted self-certified SPCC template plan.
  • Oil production facilities now have additional time to prepare and implement an SPCC plan for new facilities, alternative secondary containment options for flow-through process vessels, and measures that can be adopted in lieu of secondary containment.  Also, certain oil production facilities may now choose to self-certify the SPCC plan.
  • All facilities can now take advantage of streamlined security and integrity testing alternatives tailored to each facility.  This option was previously only available to qualified facilities.  
  • EPA formally adopted guidance previously issued on loading/unloading racks, facility diagrams, and the criteria to consider in defining a facility.
  • Other amendments address hot-mix asphalt containers, residential heating oil tanks, pesticide mix applicators and related containers, integrity testing requirements for animal fats and vegetable oil tanks, and the elimination of the sized secondary containment requirement for non-transportation trucks at a facility subject to the SPCC rule.

The amendments do not remove any regulatory requirements for owners or operators of facilities in operation before August 16, 2002 to develop, implement, and maintain an SPCC plan in accordance with the SPCC regulations then in effect. Such facilities must maintain their plans during the interim until the applicable date for revising and implementing their plans under the new amendments.
 
EPA also announced a proposed rule to extend the compliance dates for all facilities to November 2009 and to establish new compliance dates for farms (November 2009), certain qualified farms (November 2010), and marginal oil production facilities (November 2013) subject to SPCC. These revised compliance dates will provide owners/operators of those facilities the opportunity to fully understand the regulatory amendments.
 
Finally, EPA announced a final rule vacating the July 17, 2002 definition of "navigable waters" and restoring the definition of "navigable waters" that EPA promulgated in 1973. This is in accordance with an order issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C) in American Petroleum Institute v. Johnson, 571 F. Supp.2d 165 (D.D.C. 2008). This final rule does not amend the definition of "navigable waters" in any other regulation.  The amendment to the "navigable waters" definition will exempt some facilities from the regulatory requirement to prepare an SPCC Plan.