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.

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 of any type or in any form, and meets the following criteria:

  • The facility is a non-transportation-related facility.
  • The total aboveground oil storage capacity at the facility is greater than 1,320 U.S. gallons (only counting aboveground oil containers that are 55 U.S. gallons or greater),


The total completely buried oil storage capacity at the facility is greater than 42,000 U.S. gallons (only counting completely buried oil containers that are 55 U.S. gallons or greater and are not subject to all of the technical requirements of the Federal UST program or all of the technical requirements of 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, drainage control structures, treatment systems, or other equipment that may restrain, contain, or otherwise prevent the flow of oil cannot be used to conclude that a facility is not reasonably expected to discharge oil in harmful quantities.

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 are subject to SPCC requirements:

  • Industrial, commercial, agricultural, governmental, 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

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

SPCC Plan Purpose and Certification 

The purpose of an SPCC Plan is to form a comprehensive oil spill prevention, control, and countermeasure 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.  SPCC Plans must be prepared in accordance with the applicable SPCC Plan requirements of 40 CFR Part 112 and must be certified by a licensed Professional Engineer (PE).  Exception to the PE certification requirement applies to Tier 1 and Tier 2 Qualified Facilities that have the option of preparing and certifying their SPCC Plans without a PE.  The exception 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.  An amendment to an SPCC Plan 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 1 or Tier 2 Qualified Facility that is allowed to certify technical amendments without a PE.  The exception applies only if the State’s engineer licensing board allows certification of technical amendments without a PE.

Download a free list of oil types and containers subject to SPCC requirements

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 an SPCC Plan for your facility.  In addition to preparing and 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, NC office. He can be reached at rick.kleinfelter@atcgs.com.