Update: Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plans

We were recently asked by a client about the requirements for on-site oil storage at auto salvage/recycling facilities and the need for Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has simplified the requirements for SPCC Plans for facilities that qualify.  Like Rule 6 Storm Water Permitting, developing and implementing an SPCC Plan is time consuming and can be expensive; however, the cost of an SPCC Plan and its implementation is likely much less than the costs that could be incurred from spill clean-up, fines and civil liabilities.    

So to start off: What is an SPCC Plan?  An SPCC Plan is not an Oil Spill Contingency Plan.  An Oil Spill Contingency Plan describes the actions taken once an oil spill has occurred.  An SPCC Plan focuses on prevention and management practices to ensure that oil is not discharged into navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines.  The USEPA defines oil as petroleum; fuel oil; sludge; oil refuse; oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil; fats, oils or greases from animals, 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.      

The USEPA’s definition of navigable waters is somewhat complicated; however, it means lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, ditches, gullies, storm sewers, drainage systems and other waterways.  Basically any water you can float a boat upon and any water that feeds that water.  If oil could reasonably discharge from your facility and flow into any of the waterways mentioned above you are required to comply with the SPCC rule if on-site storage capacity exceeds 1,320 gallons.  Man-made features on-site that serve to restrain, hinder, contain or prevent an oil discharge (secondary containment, dikes, levees) are not considered when determining if an SPCC is necessary – you must assume that these features are not present.  In the past if your storage capacity exceeded 1,320 gallons you were required to maintain an SPCC Plan written and certified by a licensed Professional Engineer (PE). 

The new rule allows facility owners to self-certify if certain criteria are met: 

·       total aboveground oil storage capacity is less than 10,000 gallons (underground storage capacity is less than 42,000 gallons); and,   

·       the facility has not had a single discharge of greater than 1,000 gallons or two discharges greater than 42 gallons during a 12-month period in the three years prior to the certification date of the SPCC Plan. 

If these criteria are met the owner/operator is able to create and implement a plan and self-certify – it is a Qualified Facility.  If the criteria are not met the plan must be certified by a licensed PE. 

There are two tiers of Qualified Facilities.  Tier 1 facilities are those that have no individual aboveground oil containers with greater than 5,000 gallon capacities.  Tier 2 facilities are those that have an individual aboveground container with storage capacity greater than 5,000 gallons but less than 10,000 gallons of total oil storage capacity.  Tier 1 facilities are able to complete and self-certify the provided USEPA Plan Template (Appendix G to 40 CFR part 112).  Tier 2 facilities are also able to self-certify; however, they must complete a full plan in accordance with all applicable requirements (40 CFR part 112).

When calculating the aggregate or total aboveground oil storage capacity it is important to know that all petroleum and oil products count.  It is also important to know that it is not the actual quantity of oil products present; it is the shell capacity of the storage containers on-site.  Therefore if you have five 55-gallon drums of which only two are full, the capacity is (55 gallons x 5 = 275 gallons) 275 gallons not 110 gallons.  When calculating aggregate oil storage capacity only containers with a capacity of 55 gallons or more contribute to the total.  If you have drums or containers that are not in use at your yard the best thing you can do is get rid of them.  If you can realistically maintain on-site capacity less than 1,320 gallons you are exempt from this requirement.   

The requirement to prepare and implement an SPCC Plan is a federal requirement.  The USEPA (lead agency) has primacy over this program not the individual states.  Therefore, if the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) conducts an inspection and finds that an SPCC is necessary but not implemented the site can be referred to the USEPA for a follow-up inspection.  The USEPA has set a deadline for implementation of SPCC Plans of November 10, 2011 for facilities that started operations after August 16, 2002.  For facilities that were in operation before August 16, 2002 you are required to prepare and implement a plan now and not wait until November 10, 2011.  For any new facility coming into operation after November 10, 2011 a plan must be prepared and implemented prior to beginning operations.

Small spills and drips from an auto salvage facility are often considered meaningless when compared to large spills like the one that recently occurred in the Gulf of Mexico.  I have read that one quart of oil has the ability to cause a sheen on the surface of an eight-acre lake.  Large catastrophic spills with governmental and media involvement are addressed and the majority of the spill is cleaned up immediately.  Most small spills go unnoticed and are not addressed.  The cumulative effect of numerous small spills across a geographic area can be equally devastating to aquatic ecosystems as large catastrophic spills.    

The new SPCC policy is a way for the USEPA to educate and regulate facilities that store and handle oil in hopes of reducing the small point source releases of oil to the environment.  We like that the USEPA has given facility owners the opportunity to self-certify.  It will save you money and enable you to have maximum involvement in your facility’s operation.  Of course if you do not meet the criteria to self-certify we would be more than happy to help you develop a plan that meets your facility’s needs.  Remember: if you have over 1,320 gallons of oil storage capacity on-site you are required to prepare and implement an SPCC Plan prior to November 10, 2011 (if you have been in operation since before August 16, 2002 get started now). 

We hope everyone had a great 4th of July.  I heard Proud to be an American by Lee Greenwood on the 4th.  The last time I heard it was a live performance in Iraq in 2006.  All I have to say is Amen, brother.  God Bless the U.S.A.!  Hope the rest of the summer is fruitful and not too horribly hot.  Take care!

This article was originally featured in the August/September 2011 issue of ARI Magazine

Sara HamidovicComment