EPA Offers a Bit of (SPCC) Relief

Environmental attorney Bonni F. Kaufman interprets the latest changes to the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Rule by EPA.

Additional proposed revisions include providing an option that would allow owners or operators of facilities that store less than 10,000 gallons of oil to self-certify their SPCC plans (in lieu of review and certification by a professional engineer) and allowing facilities that have certain types of oil-filled equipment to provide an alternative to secondary containment, without a determination of impracticability.

Extending the Deadline; Inspector Guidance

  • The current deadline for the preparation and certification of revised SPCC plans is February 17, 2006 and plans must be implemented by August 18, 2006. EPA proposes to extend the compliance dates for both plan amendment and implementation to October 31, 2007 to allow the facilities that may be affected by the proposed revisions to have sufficient time to evaluate and implement the revised requirements. However, it is very important for aviation interests to understand that EPA’s position is that secondary containment requirements for mobile and portable containers have been in place since 1974, so there is no extension for compliance with secondary containment requirements for refuelers.

  • In conjunction with the proposed revisions to the SPCC rule, EPA issued SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors, a guide for regional inspectors in implementing the SPCC rule, including environmental equivalence, impracticability and integrity testing. The Guidance is intended to establish uniformity among regional EPA inspectors on how certain provisions of the rule may be applied. Certain aspects of the Guidance are particularly helpful to the aviation industry as they clarify when secondary containment may be impracticable, what alternative measures can be taken, and when a mobile refueler is considered unmanned. In addition, the Guidance provides a description and analysis of the more specific compliance requirements for loading and unloading areas, oil water separators, bulk storage tanks, environmental equivalence, and the geographic scope of a facility. However, certain aspects of the Guidance that discuss mobile refuelers are inconsistent with the proposed revisions to the SPCC rule and will likely be revised.

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This article is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice regarding SPCC requirements.

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