SPCC Rule: How to be Compliant
Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule
If you plan to store oils at your facility you must be compliant with the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule. This rule requires that facilities dealing with certain amount of oil storage to develop, maintain and implement an oil spill prevention plan.
Who is covered under the SPCC Rule?
- If the facility has aggregate aboveground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 U.S. Gallons
- If the facility has a completely buried oil storage capacity greater than 42,000 U.S. Gallons
- There is a reasonable expectation of an oil discharge into or upon navigable waters of the U.S. or adjoining shorelines
What type of oil is covered?
Oil of any type and in any form is covered, including:
- Fuel oil
- Oil refuse
- Oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil
- Fats, oils or greases of animal, fish or marine mammal origin
- Vegetable oils – including oils from seeds, nuts, fruits, or kernels
- Other oils and greases, including synthetic oils and mineral oils
What kind of facilities are covered?
Facilities that store, process, refine, use or consume oil and is non-transportation related is potentially subject to the SPCC rule. Here are some examples:
- Onshore and offshore oil well drilling facilities
- Onshore and offshore oil production facilities
- Oil refining or storage facilities
- Industrial, commercial, agricultural or public facilities using or storing oil
- Certain waste treatment facilities
- Loading racks, transfer hoses, loading arms and other equipment
- Vehicles and railroad cars used to transport oil exclusively within the confines of the facility
- Pipeline systems used to transport oil exclusively within the confines of a facility
Most operations that are intended to move oil from one location to another are typically not covered under the SPCC rule.
How do I calculate oil storage capacity?
Use the shell capacity (maximum volume) of all containers with a storage capacity of 55 U.S. Gallons or greater. Add up these containers and compare them to the guidelines stated earlier:
- A total aboveground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 U.S. gallons
- A completely buried oil storage capacity greater than 42,000 U.S. gallons
How do I determine if my facility could reasonably discharge oil into or upon navigable waters or adjoining shorelines?
Estimate the volume of oil that could be spilled in an incident and the geographical location. Is your facility located close to any of the following?
- Storm sewers
- Or other drainage
If you determine that a spill can reasonably flow to a waterway then you must comply with the SPCC rule.
It seems my facility is covered by SPCC, what do I need to do?
Prevent oil spills
- Using containers suitable for the oil stored. For example, use a container designed for flammable liquids to store gasoline.
- Providing overfill preventions for your oil storage containers such as a high-level alarm or audible vent.
- Providing sized secondary containment for bulk storage containers, such as a dike or a remote impoundment.
- Providing general secondary containment to catch the most likely oil spill where you transfer oil to and from containers and for mobile refuelers and tanker trucks.
- Periodically inspecting and testing pipes and containers. You need to visually inspect aboveground pipes and oil container according to industry standards; buried pipes need to be a leak tested when they are installed or repaired. Include a written record of inspections in the plan.
Prepare and implement an SPCC Plan
The owner or operator of the facility must develop and implement an SPCC plan that describes oil handling operations, spill prevention practices, discharge or drainage controls, and the personnel, equipment and resources at the facility that are used to prevent oil spills from reaching navigable waters or adjoining shoreline. Every SPCC plan music include the following
- Operating procedure at the facility to prevent oil spills
- Control measures installed to prevent oil spills from entering navigable waters or adjoining shorelines
- Countermeasures to contain, cleanup and mitigate the effects of an oil spill that has impacted navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.
Your SPCC Plan must be prepared in accordance with good engineering practices and certified by a Professional Engineer unless the owner/operator is able to, and chooses to, self-certify the plan.
Important Elements of an SPCC Plan:
- Facility diagram and description of the facility
- Oil discharge predictions
- Appropriate secondary containment or diversionary structures
- Facility drainage
- Site security
- Facility inspections
- Requirements for bulk storage containers including inspections, overfill, and integrity testing requirements
- Transfer procedures and equipment
- Requirements for qualified oil-filled operations equipment
- Loading/unloading rack requirements and procedures for tank cars and tank trucks
- Brittle fracture evaluations for aboveground field constructed containers
- Personnel training and oil discharge prevention briefings
- Recordkeeping requirements
- Five-year Plan review
- Management approval
- Plan Certification* (by a professional Engineer (PE) or in certain cases by the facility owner/operator)
Please take special note that even if a plan is certified by a PE, the owner/operator of the facility is still held liable if a problem is discovered.
Who can certify my SPCC Plan?
You can self-certify if the facility meets the following criteria:
- Total aboveground oil storage capacity of 10,000 U.S. gallons or less
- In the 3 years prior to the date the SPCC Plan is certified, the facility has had no single discharge of oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines exceeding 1,000 U.S. gallons, or no two discharges of oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines each exceedingly 42 gallons within any 12-month period.
If your facility does not meet the above criteria, you will need to get certified through a licensed Professional Engineer (PE). When a PE certifies a facility, he is confirming the following:
- He is familiar with the requirements of the rule
- He or an agent his visited and examined the facility
- The SPCC Plan has been prepared in accordance with good engineering practices, including consideration of applicable industry standards, and with the requirements of the rule.
- Procedures for required inspections and testing have been established
- The SPCC Plan is adequate for the facility
Do I need to submit my SPCC Plan to the EPA?
No, please keep your plan at any facility normally attended for at least 4 hours per day or at the nearest field office if the facility is not so staffed. Only submit your plan if requested to do so by the EPA.
What should I do if I have a spill?
If your facility discharges oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines, you are required to follow certain deferral reporting requirements. Any person in charge of an onshore or offshore facility must notify the National Response Center (NRC) immediately after he or she has knowledge of the discharge. Oil discharges that reach navigable waters must be reported to the NRC at 1-800-424-8802 or 1-202-426-2675. The NRC is the federal government’s centralized reporting center, which is staffed 24 hours per day by U.S. Coast Guard personnel.
A common misunderstanding is that by reporting to the NRC you have met state and local reporting requirements. The report to the NRC only satisfies your federal reporting requirements under the Clean Water Act. Additional state and local reporting requirements may apply. In most cases it makes sense to call 911 in the event of an oil spill, particularly in the case of flammable or combustible oil spills.
Any owner or operator of a facility regulated by the SPCC rule must also report the discharge to EPA when:
- More than 1,000 U.S. gallons of oil is discharged to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines in a single event; or
- More than 42 U.S. gallons of oil in each of the two discharges to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines occurs within any twelve-month period.
Note: The gallon amount(s) specified (either 1,000 or 42) refers to the amount of oil that reaches navigable waters or adjoining shorelines, 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.
After the NRC has been notified, the owner/operator must provide the following information to the RA:
- Name and location of the facility
- Owner/operator name
- Maximum storage/handling capacity of the facility and normal daily throughput
- Corrective actions and countermeasures taken, including descriptions of equipment repairs and replacements
- Adequate description of the facility, including maps, flow diagrams, and topographical maps, as necessary
- Cause of the discharge to navigable waters, including a failure analysis
- Failure analysis of the system where the discharge occurred
- Additional preventive measures taken or planned to take to minimize discharge reoccurrence
The RA may require additional information. You must also send a copy of this information to the agency or agencies in charge of oil pollution control activities in the state in which the SPCC-regulated facility is located.
For a PDF version of this information from the EPA please click here.