Spills and Responsibility

SPILLS AND RESPONSIBILITY An outline of who is responsible for fuel spills and countermeasure plans by Gary Mazza Consultant Gary Mazza asks the question, Is your facility required to have a SPCC or FRP? If so, Mazza offers a primer on what...


SPILLS AND RESPONSIBILITY

An outline of who is responsible for fuel spills and countermeasure plans
by Gary Mazza

Consultant Gary Mazza asks the question, Is your facility required to have a SPCC or FRP? If so, Mazza offers a primer on what the objectives of a spill prevention control and countermeasure plan should be, and outlines the facility response plan requirements for fuel facilities.

In August of 1990, Congress amended the Clean Water Act by creating the Oil Pollution Act mainly in response to the public's concern regarding the Exxon Valdez incident. These amendments expanded the ability of the federal government to prevent and respond to oil spills. These amendments also increased the penalties for non-compliance and broadened the response and enforcement authorities of the federal government.

As part of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) plan to reduce and prevent oil releases from reaching the waters of our nation, EPA requires that certain facilities develop, maintain, and implement a Spill Prevention, Control and Counter-measure Plan (SPCC) and a Facility Response Plan (FRP).

The SPCC PLAN

Federal Regulation 40 CFR 112 provides the foundation and guidelines for development of an SPCC Plan with regard to petroleum products (as well as hazardous materials). The SPCC Plan establishes written procedures, methods, necessary equipment, containment, and other countermeasures to prevent the discharge of petroleum products from a storage facility.

In accordance with the regulations, an SPCC Plan must be written and certified by a licensed professional engineer when one of the following requirements is met:

  • There is a reasonable potential for discharging oil from a fixed storage facility into waters of the U.S.; and/or
  • The oil storage capacity on site exceeds either 42,000 gallons of total underground storage, or 1,320 gallons of total aboveground storage, or any single container having a capacity in excess of 660 gallons.

The SPCC Plan is amended in accordance with the regulations if there is a change in facility design, construction, operation, or maintenance, which will affect the potential for an oil discharge from the facility into navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines.

Plan amendments must be implemented in their entirety, as soon as possible, but not later than six months after such a change occurs. No amendment to the SPCC Plan will satisfy the regulations unless a professional engineer has certified it. The plan must also be reviewed, evaluated, and certified every three years, even if there are no changes to report.

In accordance with the regulations, owners or operators of facilities who violate the requirements by failing to or refusing to comply with any of the provisions are liable to a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each day a violation continues.

In July of 1994, amendments were made to 40 CFR 112 identifying criteria to be used to determine whether or not a facility is a "substantial harm facility" and therefore subject to additional requirements. If a fuel storage facility meets the "substantial harm" criteria defined by 40 CFR 9 and 112, a separate Facility Response Plan (FRP) will be required. If a facility develops a FRP, the facility's SPCC Plan should be referred to primarily for information on designated equipment, procedures, and available resources to address a spill.

The FRP PLAN

The purpose of a FRP is to document proper containment measures and precautions to prevent the discharge of oil and other petroleum products from a fuel storage facility to the environment and navigable waters of the United States. A FRP is developed to comply with the requirements of 40 CFR 9 and 112.

Who should prepare an FRP? If you answer yes to one of the following, your facility must develop a FRP:

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