SPCC Rule Changes – Reprise: Do the Changes Help Industry?

On Thursday, October 14, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency published a Final Rule, “Oil Pollution Prevention; Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule – Compliance Date Amendment.”  Basically, this rule provided an extension (to November 10, 2011) for many different types of industries for compliance with the SPCC rule amendments.

The extension of the compliance date is NOT all encompassing, and it is important to understand how these amendments may affect you and your business.

This action is the result of a proposed amendment by the EPA on August 3, 2010, in which the EPA proposed to amend the date by which certain facilities must prepare or amend their plans. 

However, EPA points out that they are “…not extending the compliance date for drilling, production, or workover facilities that are offshore or have an offshore component or for onshore facilities, required to have and submit Facility Response Plans (FRPs).”

Accordingly, if you are required to have an FRP, your deadline to comply with the amendments remains to be November 10, 2010.

Below, we have provided answers to some of the most common questions we have received as it relates to the SPCC rules, amendments, and the extension.

Question: Does this new Final Rule mean I don’t have to develop an SPCC plan until November 2011?

Answer: That depends. If you were in operation prior to August 16, 2002, and you were required to have an SPCC, you are still required to have an SPCC plan – you simply have an extension as it relates to the amendments to the SPCC rule. If you began operations after August 16, 2002, you have an extension to November 10, 2011.

Question: I was in operation prior to August 16, 2002; does this mean I have to develop an SPCC plan?

Answer: If you have the capacity to store (in above-ground tanks) more than 1,320 gallons of regulated materials (e.g., oils, diesel fuel, gasoline, etc), you likely need an SPCC plan.  You may have an option to self-certify, if your capacity to store is less than 10,000 gallons aggregate or less than 5,000 gallons in an individual container.  A less likely scenario for many companies is underground storage tank capacity of greater than 42,000 gallons, which would also require an SPCC plan.

Question: I have a 2,000-gallon tank, but I typically only store 800 gallons – do I need an SPCC plan?

Answer: Yes, the rule is based on capacity.  If you don’t need this much capacity, consider getting a smaller tank. You certainly have the option of changing the storage capacity to remain below the regulatory threshold and potentially avoid the SPCC requirements.

Question: Does the EPA have a database to know who needs a plan, and do I have to give them a copy of my plan?

Answer:  No and no.  The EPA does not have a master database.  Enforcement is most often the result of a spill or release.  Additionally, enforcement can be prompted because someone nearby complained, a former employee called the EPA or State regulators, or there is an industry-specific action (e.g., a focus on food manufacturing, auto shop repair, dry cleaners, etc…).  When you develop (and implement) a plan, it typically remains on your site.  You must make it available, if an EPA or State inspector, or the EPA Regional Administrator, requests a copy.

If you have any questions regarding environmental compliance issues or need assistance, please contact Matthew Schroeder, P.E. (mschroeder@dragun.com) or Khaled Chekiri, P.E. (kchekiri@dragun.com) at 248.932.0228.

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