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Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans

Is your Facility Prepared?


As of November 10, 2011, facilities that store petroleum fuel in aboveground storage tanks must have a functioning SPCC plan in place. The EPA will now be moving from compliance assistance to enforcement. Failure to meet regulation requirements may result in Class I fines up to $16,000 per violation and Class II fines up to $16,000 per day. An upsurge of client requests has prompted Koontz-Bryant to educate facility owners about regulations that guide the preparation of SPCC plans.

Many of the facilities Koontz-Bryant works with, either by helping them revitalize their operations or by helping them keep up with their current environmental permits, are subject to the EPA’s Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations. The regulations require facilities that store petroleum and other oils onsite to produce and implement a plan to prevent the discharge of oil into navigable waters of the United States. This plan is known as a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plan, or SPCC Plan. Part of the Clean Water Act, the regulations first became effective in 1974, and continue to be revised.

Who Must Comply?
According to Chris Workman, Director of Environmental Services at Koontz-Bryant, not all facilities are subject to the regulation. There are three questions that must be answered:

1. Is the facility non-transportation related? If the facility is transportation-related, it is governed by other regulatory bodies, such as Department of Transportation.
Many of the facilities that are typical in central Virginia are non-transportation related and therefore may be subject to the regulations. They can include oil refining or storage facilities, industrial, commercial, agricultural, or public facilities, waste treatment facilities, and loading areas for fuel.

2. Does the facility have an aggregate aboveground storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons, or a completely buried storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons?
In computing capacity, oil storage includes all containers that store oil at the facility that are equal to or greater than 55 gallons. The quantity of the oil stored in the container is determined by the maximum capacity of the container and not the actual volume of liquid in the container. Oil is defined as oil of any kind or in any form, including petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, oil refuse, and oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil and oily mixtures. Workman explains, “There are a wide variety of sources that can be included in the inventory of just oil. A list must be compiled that includes all sources, types, uses, and location of all oil products in the facility. Oil can be stored in tanks, containers, drums, transformers, oil-filled electrical equipment, and mobile or portable totes; either aboveground or underground.”

3. Is there a reasonable expectation of a discharge into or upon navigable waters of the U.S.?
In addition to proximity to large bodies of water such as rivers and lakes, nearness to streams, ponds, ditches, storm and sanitary sewers, and wetlands can satisfy this requirement.

A facility must answer “Yes” to all three questions to be subject to this regulation. Workman says, “There are many circumstances for a facility to qualify under the regulation and therefore be required to have a SPCC Plan.”

What is Involved?

  • There are three levels, or tiers, that a facility may fall into in relation to their size or storage capacity. These tiers dictate how involved the plans need to be.
    Facilities with an aggregate oil-storage capacity less than 10,000 gallons and no one single aboveground storage container greater than 5,000 gallons may complete and self-certify a plan template instead of creating a full-blown Professional Engineer certified plan. There are a few other qualifiers for this allowance - namely no petroleum discharges - but it is available to a select group of oil-storage facilities.
  • If the facility meets the limited oil-storage capacity requirements, but has had an oil discharge, it may qualify for the Tier II, or modest, SPCC plan. Again, the owner or operator may prepare a self-certified Plan in accordance with the requirements of 40 CFR 112.7.
  • Larger facilities (oil storage capacity greater than 10,000 gallons) must have a full-blown SPCC Plan prepared and certified by a Professional Engineer.

An SPCC Plan must contain at least three elements:

1. operating procedures that the facility implements to prevent oil spills;
2. control measures installed to prevent oil from entering navigable waters;
3. countermeasures to contain, clean up, and mitigate the effects of an oil spill that affects navigable waters.

Other elements of the full-blown SPCC Plan will include facility diagrams, oil spill predictions, facility inspections, site security, personnel training, five-year Plan review, and a Professional Engineer’s certification. Workman also notes the importance of maintaining good records of inspections and tests.

Each new revision of the regulations further defines which facilities are required to prepare a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan. Koontz-Bryant reviews these revisions as they are released and works with our clients to not only keep them in compliance with their current permits, but also to inform them when, because of the latest revisions, they may be even exempted from some or all of the requirements in the regulation.

Koontz-Bryant has prepared numerous original SPCC Plans and has certified many more. Clients for these services include airports, fuel depots, hospitals, printing facilities, lumber yards, and asphalt plants. If you have questions about how this regulation can affect you and your facility, contact Chris Workman, Director of Investigative / Environmental Services at Koontz-Bryant at by email or by phone: (804) 920-1827.