The purpose of the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure rule, part of the Oil Pollution Prevention regulation in the Clean Water Act, is to develop plans designed to prevent oil discharges from reaching the navigable waters of the U.S. and adjoining shorelines. Facilities and farms are required to develop and implement an SPCC plan to address:

• Containment and procedures to prevent oil discharges;
• Proactive control measures to keep oil discharge from entering navigable waters and adjoining shorelines; and
• Effective countermeasures to contain, clean up and mitigate oil discharge that affects navigable waters and adjoining shorelines.

The SPCC rule applies to non-transportation related facilities involved in drilling, producing, gathering, storing, processing, refining, transferring, distributing, using or consuming oil products.

A facility must have an SPCC plan if it:
• stores greater than 1,320 gallons of oil in aggregate above ground or has greater than 42,000 gallons of completely buried oil storage capacity and
• has a “reasonable expectation of an oil discharge” to a waterway or adjoining shoreline.

Based on this, it is the responsibility of the owner/operator to decide if their facility requires a plan. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that between 600,000 to 640,000 national facilities will be impacted by this rule. Firms are not required to submit their plan to EPA for approval, but one is required upon inspection.

What is counted when determining the storage capacity?
 Drums or containers that store 55 gallons or more are counted, but permanently closed containers, 5-gallon containers or 30-gallon drums are not.

What is the definition of an “oil”?
 Oil can be of any kind or form including, but not limited to, petroleum and non-petroleum based oils, crude oil, refined products, animal fats and vegetable oils. Examples include gasoline, diesel fuel and vegetable oils from crops and milk. However, milk and milk product containers are exempt from the SPCC capacity calculations and rule requirements.

What are navigable waterways of the U.S. and adjoining shorelines? 
Navigable waters include streams, creeks, rivers, and lakes and wetlands adjacent to a navigable waterway. EPA will be issuing additional guidance in the near future, but more details can be found here: www.epa.gov/owow_keep/wetlands/guidance/CWAwaters.html.

What is a “reasonable expectation of an oil discharge” mean?
 This is determined by the owner or operator based on location and geographical aspects of the facility. Items to consider include proximity to water, land contour and drainage. Manmade features cannot be considered when determining if a plan is required. It is recommended that documents are kept, particularly if it is concluded the facility is not subject to the rule.

If an SPCC plan is warranted, the written plan must address:
• Operating procedures for routine handling of products to prevent a discharge;
• Discharge or drainage control measures to prevent a discharge;
• Countermeasures to contain, clean up and mitigate an oil spill;
• Methods of disposal of recovered materials; and
• Contact list and phone numbers of company, contract response personnel and the National Response Center.

For facilities with greater than 10,000 gallons of oil, plans are required to be certified by a professional engineer. For facilities with greater than 1,320 gallons up to 10,000 gallons of oil, a self-certified SPCC plan can be developed.

Earlier this year, AFIA held a webcast on the implementation of the SPCC rule, which featured J. Troy Swackhammer and Dr. Greg Wilson from the EPA Office of Emergency Management. In addition to addressing common questions, the webcast also covered rule basics. If you determine that your facility requires a plan, it is recommended you obtain a copy of the webcast at www.afia.org.