The Oil Pollution Prevention regulations of 40 CFR Part 112 affect most industrial facilities that store or use oil products (e.g., petroleum fuels, greases, lubricants, animal fats, vegetable oils).  Non-transportation related facilities must develop and maintain a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan if they have an aggregate aboveground storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons or underground storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons.  Facilities which may pose a “substantial harm” are also required to develop, implement and maintain a Facility Response Plan (FRP).  These facilities generally have an aggregate storage capacity over 1 million gallons and meet other certain criteria or facilities which transport oil over water with a capacity greater than 42,000 gallons.

Even though the spill prevention rules affect most industries, and even some commercial property owners, many do not grasp the value and importance of these plans.

Highly publicized accidents involving oil releases with significant environmental damages have increased awareness for potential environmental impacts from oil spills and leaks in recent years.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently (December 16, 2013) issued new SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors, expanding and providing more detail to what EPA inspectors should be looking for during facility compliance inspections.  Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA has the authority to assess fines, including judicial penalties for SPCC or FRP regulatory violations, up to $37,500 per day of violation.  The costs of cleanup and loss of business associated with an actual release can be exorbitant.

Publicized Oil Spills

Some common violations and deficiencies relating to SPCC Plans and/or FRPs noted by EPA regulators include the following:

  • Required Plan not Developed
  • SPCC Plan Requiring Professional Engineering (PE ) Certification not Certified
  • Plans Not Reviewed/Updated Every Three Years
  • Plans Do Not Accurately Reflect All Oil Storage
  • Plans Do Not Accurately Identify Detailed Path Spilled Oil Would Flow to Waterway
  • Failure of Plans to Address Tanker Trucks/Refuelers
  • Failure of Plans to Address Mobile/Portable Containers
  • General Containment for Drum Storage in Buildings Not Addressed
  • Lack of Documentation of Secondary Containment Capacity/Volume Calculations
  • Inspections are Not Performed/Documented
  • Training Not Conducted/Documented
  • No Integrity Testing Program/Records
  • Inadequate Containment for Storage Tanks
  • No General Containment for Non-Loading Rack Transfer Areas
  • No Sized Containment for Loading Rack Transfer Areas
  • Containment Valves Open
  • Incompatible Containers Used
  • Integrity Issues for Storage Vessels
  • Integrity Issues for Secondary Containment
  • No or Inoperative Overfill Devices on Bulk Storage with No Transfer Procedure
  • No Inspection of Overfill Devices
  • Qualified Individuals (QIs) Lack Implementation Knowledge of FRPs
  • FRP Drills Not Conducted/Documented
  • Lack of Planned Response Along FRP Planning Distance – Locations for Oil Containment/Recovery

Even though the spill prevention rules affect most industries, and even some commercial property owners, many do not grasp the value and importance of these plans.  Often they are written and placed on a shelf just to satisfy the rule, rather than acted upon to ascertain the full value as a tool to protect water quality and the environment.  The EI Group, Inc.’s (EI) regulatory compliance professionals have observed that many facilities have oil spill prevention plans; however, many of these are grossly out-of-date, do not reflect current operations or do not satisfy all aspects of the current regulatory requirements.  EI has seen plans that are only a couple pages in length, shelved by operations personnel in order to say, “Sure we have a plan, here it is.”  EI  has also seen plans constructed of several complex and confusing volumes, with the idea being “bigger is better,” to impress an inspector with an overwhelming amount of paper and fancy binders to protect against violations and fines.  Both approaches are misguided.

An experienced and qualified oil spill prevention compliance contractor can be helpful, not only in assuring that plans meet regulatory requirements and are up to date, but also in re-infusing useful life and value into an existing, depreciated program.

EI can assist owners and operators with the following services:

  • Audit current plans and compliance;
  • Develop and update oil contingency plans, creating a concise, working document understandable to those who are responsible for implementation;
  • Develop useful, streamlined, site-specific training curriculum; and
  • Conduct training