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Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule

Authorized by the Clean Water Act, the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule outlines requirements for facilities intended to prevent, control, and respond to discharges of oil into navigable waters and adjoining shorelines.

A facility is subject to the SPCC rule if it meets the following criteria: (i) the facility is non-transportation related; (ii) the facility has an aggregate aboveground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons, or a completely buried storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons; and (iii) the facility could reasonably be expected to discharge oil in harmful quantities to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines of the Unites States. The “reasonable expectation” must take into account proximity to water and drainage pathways, including sewers, and cannot include manmade structures, such as dikes and impoundments.

The SPCC rule doesn’t just apply to petroleum products. Oils of any type and form are covered by the rule, including, 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; and other oils and greases, including synthetic oils and mineral oils.

When calculating total storage capacity, facilities should only count containers with storage capacity equal to or greater than 55 gallons. Examples of containers that count toward storage capacity include bulk storage containers, such as aboveground storage tanks, certain buried tanks, pits, drums and totes. Oil-filled operational equipment, such as hydraulic systems, lubricating or cooling systems, and transformers, also count toward a facility’s storage capacity. Certain containers are exempt from the SPCC rule and do not count toward the overall storage capacity of the facility. For example, facilities are not required to count permanently closed containers, motive power containers, or underground storage tanks (USTs) subject to 40 CFR 280 or 281. In Ohio, this exemption includes USTs regulated by the Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations (BUSTR).

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Secondary Containment

Under the SPCC rule, bulk containers (tanks, drums, totes, etc.), and loading racks are required to have sized secondary containment. Sized secondary containment must be sized to the largest tank with adequate freeboard for a rain event. The rule of thumb for containment capacity is 110% of the largest tank, or enough freeboard to contain a 25-year, 24-hour storm event, whichever is greater. Sized secondary containment includes structures such as dikes, berms, and double-walled tanks.

Other areas, such as loading and unloading areas, transfer operations (except loading racks), tank trucks, mobile refuelers, piping, and oil-filled operational equipment may use general secondary containment to account for the most likely failure mode and quantity of a release. General secondary containment can include passive containment, such as spill kits and spill response procedures.

In certain instances, if a determination is made by a Professional Engineer that secondary containment is impracticable, alternative measures may be implemented in accordance with the rule.

Development of SPCC Plans

The SPCC rule requires subject facilities to develop and implement an SPCC Plan, which is intended to provide a site-specific framework for preventing oil spills, and to establish procedures for personnel to properly contain and respond to spills or releases. The SPCC Plan must describe the methods taken at a facility to prevent and control releases.

The various elements of an SPCC Plan include, but are not limited to, notification procedures and emergency call list; procedures for stopping, containing, and cleaning up any released materials; workforce, equipment, and materials available for controlling and removing oil spills; descriptions of containment structures and equipment; facility diagram and description; oil discharge pathways; inspection and testing procedures; training requirements; and recordkeeping.

Unless a facility meets the criteria for self-certification, SPCC Plans must be certified by a Professional Engineer (PE). Certain facilities with less than 10,000 gallons in aggregate aboveground storage capacity may meet the criteria for a Tier I or Tier II qualified facility and may be eligible for self-certification, depending on state regulations.

SPCC Plans must be re-evaluated every five years, or when changes are made to the facility that affect the Plan. Except for at Tier I and Tier II qualified facilities, technical amendments to the SPCC Plan, such as adding, removing, or relocating oil storage tanks within the facility, must be recertified by a Professional Engineer.

GT helps clients navigate complex SPCC regulatory requirements, and develops compliant, site-specific SPCC Plans that are easy to understand and implement. GT’s SPCC Plans are designed to assist during an emergency and provide a clear course of action in the event of a spill. GT works closely with clients to ensure all elements required by the SPCC rule are covered. In accordance with the SPCC rule, GT’s SPCC Plans are certified by a licensed Professional Engineer. GT can also assist clients in making a qualified facility determination to reduce regulatory burden and develop a cost-effective SPCC Plan.

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