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SPCC Plan Requirements & Oil Spill Prevention

 Stack of blue oil barrels that require a spill prevention plan

SPCC Regulations and Plan Requirements

Using federal rules and regulations, the Environment Protection Agency creates requirements to prevent environmental damage and protect public health from hazardous material spills. Since oil spills endanger public health, impact drinking water, devastate natural resources, and disrupt the economy, the EPA enacted specific rules to prevent and prepare for oil spills.

The Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule helps oil exploration and production in the upstream sector and helps to prevent the discharge of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. The goal of the SPCC rule is to protect people, property, and the environment safe from hazardous oil material.

What Is an SPCC Plan?

The SPCC rule requires facilities to develop, maintain, and implement an oil spill prevention plan, or an SPCC plan.

Who Needs an SPCC Plan?

Facilities with an aggregate aboveground oil storage capacity greater than 1,330 U.S. gallons or a completely buried storage capacity of greater than 42,000 U.S. gallons need a SPCC plan. Additionally, a facility that stores, processes, refines, uses or consumes oil and is non-transportation-related is potentially subject to the SPCC rule.

Which Facilities Need an SPCC Plan?

The United States uses vast quantities of oils to heat homes, fuel automobiles and other modes of transportation and operate various pieces of equipment. As a result, the SPCC rule covers many different types of facilities that store, process, refine, uses or consumes oil. Examples of facilities covered by the SPCC rule include:

  • Oil drilling
  • Power generators
  • Oil refineries
  • Airports
  • Marinas
  • Fish canneries
  • Power transmission and distribution
  • Farms and ranches
  • Construction sites
  • Oil storage
  • Oil production

SPCC plan storage for chemicals and oil

Do I Need an SPCC Plan?

Still not sure if your facility engages in any of these oil-related activities? Here are a few questions to help you determine if you need to follow SPCC plan requirements:

  • Do you store, transfer, use or consume oil or oil products (e.g. diesel fuel, gasoline, lube oil, hydraulic oil, adjuvant oil, crop oil, vegetable oil or animal fat) at your facility?
  • Do you use oil to heat the building or any equipment at your facility?
  • Could you intentionally or unintentionally discharge oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines, including lakes, rivers and streams?

Have you answered yes to one or more of these questions? If so, you need an SPCC plan.

What is Covered in an SPCC Plan?

In an SPCC plan, facility owners and operators must detail oil handling operations, spill prevention practices, discharge or drainage controls, and the personnel, equipment and resources at the facility to prevent environmental damage from an oil spill.

Unique to every facility, an SPCC plan must describe the following elements:

A spill prevention plan covers the following procedures and measures, according to SPCC rule:

  • Operating procedures at the facility to prevent oil spills
  • Control measures (such as secondary containment) 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

 In addition to SPCC plan procedures and measures, an OSHA spill prevention plan may cover additional planning and implementing efforts related to employee health and safety and chemical storage.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, hazardous waste site clean-up efforts must rely on site-specific occupational safety and health programs. These programs protect employees at the site and serve as an extension of an employer’s overall safety and health program work. Learn more about OSHA requirements for chemical storage.

What Activities are Not Covered in a Spill Prevention Plan?

Transportation-related activities or equipment typically not covered by the SPCC rule include:

  • Interstate or inter-facility oil pipeline systems
  • Oil transported in vessels such as ships and barges
  • Oil transported between facilities by rail car or tanker truck

What Type of Oil Does SPCC Cover?

The SPCC rule covers oil of any type and in any form. The types of oil include (but not limited to):

  • Petroleum
  • Fuel oil
  • Sludge
  • Oil refuse
  • Oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil
  • Fats, oils or greases of animal, fish, or marine mammal origin
  • Vegetable oils, including oil from seeds, nuts, fruits, or kernels
  • Other oils and greases, including synthetic oils and mineral oils

Spill Prevention with an SPCC Plan

Facilities meeting the criteria as outlined by the EPA must develop and implement an SPCC plan to prevent oil spills. As detailed by the SPCC rule, the following tactics or precautions help prevent environmental damage and protect public health from an oil spill.

  • Using appropriate containers for storing certain oils (e.g. storing gasoline in a flammable liquids’ container)
  • Providing overfill prevention for your oil storage containers by using a high-level alarm or audible vent
  • Using the appropriate secondary containment, like a dike or a remote, for bulk storage containers
  • Utilizing general secondary containment, like drip pans or curbing, to catch oil spill at transfer points between mobile refuelers and tanker trucks
  • Periodically visually inspecting aboveground pipes and leak testing buried pipes and containers (Note: Document these inspections in the SPCC plan)

Facilities risk contaminating the environment, harming employees, and incurring significant costs for cleanup should a spill occur without an SPCC plan in place. Facility owners and operators without an SPCC plan face fines from the EPA of up to $27,500 per day for noncompliance.


Don’t take the risk—put your spill prevention plan in place now with Polystar’s spill containment solutions

Railcar Transloading Containment Plan spill containment for transloaders Pad
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