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U.S. EPA's Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule is promulgated under the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations in 40 CFR Part 112. The SPCC rule applies to non-transportation related facilities, including onshore oil production, drilling, and workover facilities and potentially some gathering facilities, and is intended to prevent oil discharges from reaching navigable waters of the U.S. or adjoining shorelines. Any such facilities which store more than 1,320 gallons of oil in aggregate above-ground storage (or have underground oil storage capacity > 42,000 gallons) AND have a “reasonable expectation of an oil discharge” to a waterway or adjoining shoreline must develop and implement an SPCC Plan. The tenets of these four (4) key applicability factors are summarized as follows:

  1. Facility Type: Facilities subject to the authority and control of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) per the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DOT and EPA on Nov. 24, 1971 are not subject to SPCC requirements. This means that inter-facility gathering lines are typically exempt from SPCC requirements (as they are regulated by DOT), while intra-facility flow lines and gathering lines must comply with SPCC rule requirements unless subject to DOT regulations.
  2. Oil Definition: Examples of liquids at upstream exploration and production (E & P) facilities which meet the definition of “oil” could include process materials such as produced water, condensate, natural gasoline, or crude oil, as well as ancillary materials used at the site such as vehicle, generator, or drill rig fuels, hydraulic oil, or oil-based frac liquids. All storage containers that are 55-gallons or larger must be counted toward the SPCC applicability threshold.
  3. Navigable Waters: This may include surface waterways such as streams, creeks, rivers and lakes as well as adjacent wetlands. This could also include intermittent streams if flowing at least three (3) months per year, depending on several factors.
  4. Reasonable Expectation: This determination is made by the operator taking into account geographical considerations such as proximity to water, land contours, drainage patterns, etc. The owner must exclude manmade features such as secondary containment and impoundments when making the assessment.

Facilities which meet all four (4) applicability criteria described above must develop and implement a written SPCC Plan within six (6) months of the start of operation. The plan should be developed in accordance with good engineering practices to include the following basic elements:

  • Containment structures and procedures for prevention of oil discharges;
  • Proactive control measures to keep an oil discharge from entering navigable waters of the U.S. or adjoining shorelines; and
  • Effective countermeasures to contain, clean up, and mitigate any oil discharge that affects navigable waters of the U.S. or adjoining shorelines.

The SPCC Plan must include failure analyses, detailed operating procedures, facility diagram(s), and key contact information, and must be reviewed and certified to be adequate by a licensed Professional Engineer (PE). Plans must be reviewed and amended within six (6) months of any facility changes that materially affect the potential for oil discharges, and systematically reviewed/updated at least once every five (5) years. All oil-handling employees must be trained on the contents of the SPCC Plan at least once per year, where any known discharges or failures occurring within the period are specifically highlighted and reviewed.

The following is a list of common compliance issues associated with SPCC program requirements:

  • Facility has not determined whether it may reasonably discharge an amount of regulated oils harmful to navigable waters and is managing oil quantities over an aggregate quantity of 1,320 gallons;
  • Facility lacks adequate secondary containment (i.e., sufficient capacity as well as satisfactory condition) or failed to determine impracticability or use of alternative measures;
  • The written SPCC Plan does not contain all the required elements;
  • Bulk tanks have not been assessed for applicability of tank integrity testing or have not followed plan requirements;
  • Routine inspections are not being conducted or not being sufficiently documented; and
  • Annual SPCC Plan training is not being conducted or documented for oil-handling employees.

Are your facilities meeting all applicable SPCC program requirements? Trinity Consultants helps many organizations with all aspects of SPCC compliance, including plan development, PE review and certification, compliance auditing, and annual training. For assistance, please contact Trinity at 800.229.6655 or complete the Contact Us form on our website.