Highlighting Updates to the SPCC Program Guidance

03 February 2014 Dashboard Insights Blog

The following post is provided by guest author, Graham Crockford from TRC Environmental Corporation. Graham can be reached at gcrockford@trcsolutions.com.

In August, the EPA published a revision to the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Guidance Document for Regional Inspectors, which explains the many nuances of the SPCC rule, updated to include revisions to the rule in 2006, 2009, 2009, and 2011. These revisions were made largely in response to concerns raised by the regulated community, and are summarized in Appendix C of the Guidance Document. The compliance dates for the various changes have passed, so owners and operators must now be in compliance with the current rule. Below we highlight a few of the clarifications offered in the new guidance document.

Facility Boundary Determination – Aggregation and separation of distinct units of an operation may be possible at the owner/operator’s discretion. In certain cases, as discussed by the guidance document, units of an operation may be separated into different facilities with unique SPCC plans, or aggregated into one unified SPCC plan.  Examples are provided in Section 2.4.6, and it is noted that the owner/operator may only subdivide operations within reason.

Tier I and II Facilities – Small capacity facilities with a clean spill history may have an owner/operator self-certify a SPCC plan without a PE. For these facilities with no single above ground storage tanks larger than 5,000 gallons (Tier I qualification), a template is followed to complete the SPCC plan. For these facilities with at least one above ground storage tank larger than 5,000 gallons (Tier II qualification), an SPCC plan is developed by the owner/operator for the site. For Tier II facilities, sections of the report can still be completed by a PE, creating a hybrid Tier II plan.

Oil Water Separators – The use of an oil water separator (OWS) falls under the SPCC rule unless the OWS is used exclusively for wastewater treatment. An OWS can be used as secondary containment under the rule in certain circumstances; however it is stressed that the OWS must be maintained properly for it to be effective as containment.

Mobile Containers on Facility Diagrams – The updated language provides flexibility for the marking of mobile containers on the required facility diagram. In lieu of marking each portable container on the diagram, areas that often hold portable containers can be marked as long as a description of the estimated number, size and contents of containers is provided in the description.

Industry standards for Inspection, Evaluation and Testing – The SPCC rule provides flexibility to the PE or facility to evaluate storage containers using industry standards, which are discussed in the guidance document in Section 7.7. Each industry standard covers the scope and interval of inspections, as well as identifying the inspector.

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