SPCC Plan Applicability

 The Oil Pollution Prevention Regulation, which is documented in Title 40, Part 112 of the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR Part 112), was initially promulgated in 1973 under the authority of the Clean Water Act and became effective in January 1974.  In accordance with the regulation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires certain types of facilities to prepare and implement Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans to prevent oil from reaching navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines.  The purpose of an SPCC Plan is to form a comprehensive SPCC program that minimizes the potential for oil spills and provides the necessary personnel, equipment, and procedures to prevent oil spills from reaching navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.

An SPCC Plan is required for an onshore or offshore facility that is engaged in drilling, producing, gathering, storing, processing, refining, transferring, distributing, using, or consuming oil or oil products, and meets the following criteria:

  • The facility is a non-transportation-related facility (i.e., not subject to DOT jurisdiction).
  • The total aboveground oil storage capacity at the facility is greater than 1,320 gallons (only counting applicable aboveground oil containers that are 55 gallons or greater) and/or the total completely buried oil storage capacity at the facility is greater than 42,000 gallons (only counting completely buried oil containers that are 55 gallons or greater and are not subject to all of the technical requirements of the Federal UST program or a State UST program approved by the EPA).
  • Due to its location, the facility could reasonably be expected to discharge oil in quantities that may be harmful into or upon the navigable waters of the U.S. or adjoining shorelines. Discharges of oil that may be considered harmful include discharges that: 1) violate applicable water quality standards, or 2) cause a film or sheen upon or discoloration of the surface of the water or adjoining shorelines, or cause a sludge or emulsion to be deposited beneath the surface of the water or upon adjoining shorelines.

Note:  According to the EPA, the presence of dikes or other structures which may serve to prevent the flow of discharged oil cannot be used to conclude that a facility is not reasonably expected to discharge oil in harmful quantities to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.

New facilities (not involved in oil production) that are subject to SPCC requirements must have SPCC Plans prepared and implemented before beginning facility operations.  Oil production facilities that are subject to SPCC requirements must have SPCC Plans prepared and implemented within six months after beginning facility operations.

Examples of non-transportation-related facilities that may be required to have SPCC Plans:

  • Industrial, commercial, agricultural, governmental, educational, and public facilities that use and store oil.
  • Fixed or mobile onshore and offshore oil drilling and oil production facilities.
  • Oil refining and storage facilities.
  • Waste oil treatment facilities.
  • Loading racks, transfer hoses, loading arms, and other equipment used to transfer oil in bulk to or from highway vehicles or railroad cars.
  • Highway vehicles, railroad cars, and pipelines used to transport oil exclusively within the confines of a non-transportation-related facility.

Examples of oil types and oil containers that are subject to SPCC requirements are available as a downloadable PDF here

SPCC Plan Certification

SPCC Plans must be prepared in accordance with the applicable requirements of 40 CFR Part 112 and must be certified by a licensed Professional Engineer (PE).  Tier I and Tier II Qualified Facilities (as defined in 40 CFR 112.3(g)) have the option of preparing and certifying their SPCC Plans without a PE; however, the option applies only if the State’s engineer licensing board allows SPCC Plan certification without a PE.

SPCC Plan Amendment

An SPCC Plan must be amended when there is a change in the design, construction, operation, or maintenance that materially affects a facility’s potential for an oil discharge to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.  Examples of changes that may require amendment of an SPCC Plan include, but are not limited to:

  • Commissioning or decommissioning of oil containers.
  • Replacement, reconstruction, or movement of oil containers.
  • Replacement, reconstruction, or installation of oil-containing piping systems.
  • Construction or demolition that might alter secondary containment structures.
  • Changes of product or service.
  • Revision of standard operation or maintenance procedures related to oil handling or oil storage.

An SPCC Plan amendment must be prepared within six months of when the change occurred at the facility.  The amendment must be implemented as soon as possible but not later than six months following preparation of the amendment.  A licensed PE must certify any technical amendment to an SPCC plan unless the facility is a Tier I or Tier II Qualified Facility that has the option of preparing and certifying technical amendments without a PE.  The option applies only if the State’s engineer licensing board allows certification of technical amendments without a PE.

Questions?  We can help.

ATC can prepare an SPCC Plan for your facility that complies with EPA requirements established in 40 CFR Part 112 and demonstrates a commitment to oil pollution prevention.  Due to our nationwide presence, ATC has licensed professionals throughout the U.S. who can prepare and certify SPCC Plans.  In addition to preparing or updating SPCC Plans, ATC provides SPCC evaluation services.  If any SPCC deficiencies are identified, ATC can provide recommendations to ensure your facility’s SPCC Plan fully complies with EPA requirements.

Contact us if we can be of assistance.

This blog was written by Rick Kleinfelter, PE, a Senior Engineer based in ATC’s Raleigh, North Carolina office.  He can be reached at rick.kleinfelter@atcgs.com.