How To Choose the Right SPCC Plan for Your Facility

Aug 9, 2022 2:00 PM ET
Blog

Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans are as necessary as they can be confusing. If you’re wondering whether you need an SPCC plan, what type of plan to use for your facility, and how to make an amendment to your plan, this blog is for you. So, let’s take a deep dive into all things SPCC plans.

Who Needs an SPCC Plan?

According to the Federal SPCC Regulation 40 CFR part 112, facilities that store over 1,320 gallons of oil in aboveground bulk containers of 55-gallon or greater capacity; or greater than 42,000 gallons of oil in completely buried storage containers (i.e., underground storage tanks) are required to develop and maintain an SPCC plan.

However, depending on the total volume of oil stored, largest container size, and the spill history of the facility, different plan options exist to satisfy the SPCC requirement on a facility-specific basis. This allows the owner/operator to utilize a plan that better fits the facility from an operational and economic standpoint.

What Are the Different Types of SPCC Plans?

Tier I – Self-Certified Plan (Template from EPA)

Facilities that qualify for a Tier I – self-certified plan can take advantage of the EPA provided template for assistance with completing their SPCC plan. In addition, a Tier I SPCC plan does not require a Professional Engineer (PE) to review and certify the plan. Instead, it allows for self-certification of the plan by the facility owner/operator. If you own or operate a facility that stores 1,320-gallons to 10,000-gallons total oil storage, this plan option may be perfect for you. Keep in mind, some states may require PE certification for a Tier II plan, so be sure to look up your state’s requirements.

To Qualify for Tier I Plan, a facility must:

  1. Have a total aboveground oil storage capacity of 10,000 gallons or less;
  2. No aboveground oil storage containers with a capacity greater than 5,000 gallons;
  3. No single oil discharge to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines greater than 1,000 gallons; or
  4. No two discharges to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines greater than 42 gallons within any 12-month period in the three years before the SPCC plan is certified.

Tier II - Full Plan that can be Self-Certified

If a facility meets all the criteria of a Tier I facility with the exception of no aboveground oil storage containers with a capacity greater than 5,000 gallons, then a Tier II – self-certified plan will likely be the appropriate plan. Just like a Tier I plan, a Tier II plan allows for self-certification of the plan by the facility owner/operator with no requirement for a PE to certify (as mentioned before with a Tier I SPCC plan, always be sure to look up your state’s requirements, as some states may still require PE certification for a Tier II plan).

Unfortunately, the EPA does not allow for the use of its Tier I plan template when developing a Tier II SPCC plan. While more complex to develop than a Tier I SPCC plan, a Tier II SPCC plan is still generally less expensive to develop due to the option for a facility to self-certify without needing to get a PE involved. Depending on your comfort level, it may still be a good idea to engage knowledgeable consultants to assist you with the development of a Tier II – Self-Certified SPCC plan.

To Qualify for a Tier II – self-certified plan, a facility must:

  1. Have a total aboveground oil storage capacity of 10,000 gallons or less;
  2. No single oil discharge to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines greater than 1,000 gallons, or
  3. No two discharges to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines greater than 42 gallons within any 12-month period in the three years before the SPCC plan is certified.

Full PE Certified Plan

So, does your facility not qualify for a Tier I or Tier II SPCC plan? In this case, you are required to develop and maintain an SPCC plan that is certified by a PE. This is generally the most expensive type of SPCC plan, because unless you or someone at the facility is a PE who has the expertise to certify an SPCC plan, you will need to engage consultants who specialize in this field to help you with the development of your SPCC plan and subsequent PE certification. Steps to developing a SPCC plan will likely include:

  • Assessing your facility to determine if it qualifies for Tier I or Tier II – self-certification. If not, then engaging with a PE/consultant for support.
  • A site visit will need to be performed by the PE on record, or PE’s agent.
  • A full PE certified SPCC plan will be drafted based on the findings from the site visit.
  • Owner/Operator will review the draft SPCC plan to provide insight into the oil storage and handling as well as spill response procedures to be implemented. They will then certify management commitment to plan implementation.
  • Certification of the final SPCC plan by the PE.

But Wait – What happens if you need an amendment?

Since change is the only constant in life, you may be wondering what happens to your SPCC plan if you have a change to your oil storage or handling operations at your facility. For example, maybe you added or removed a tank, or perhaps facility personnel responsible for SPCC implementation have changed. How will this affect your SPCC plan and when are you required to amend it? Do you need to completely recertify the SPCC plan, or can you make the changes yourself?

If you fall into either the Tier I or Tier II – self-certified SPCC plan category, you can make any updates required yourself. The only requirement is that you must amend and implement (recertify) the new plan within 6 months from the date that the change took place.

However, if you have a full PE certified SPCC plan, you will need to determine if the changes to the SPCC plan are considered administrative or technical before moving forward with updates. These two categories of changes are detailed below:

Technical Amendment

  • A technical amendment is required for any changes to the facility that affect oil storage or the potential for an oil discharge to navigable waters, including design, operation, or maintenance that materially affect the potential for a discharge. Examples of changes that would require technical amendment include adjustments to secondary containment, addition or removal of containers, adjustment in maintenance procedures, and replacement or reconstruction of oil piping.
  • The SPCC plan must be amended and recertified within 6 months of any technical amendment at a facility. Don’t delay! These things can slip through the cracks and end up being a scramble at the end to meet the 6-month deadline.

Administrative Amendment

  • Administrative amendments are required for changes that are not related to oil storage, such as personnel changes, phone number changes, or company policy changes. These are changes that do not require a PE to certify the changes to the SPCC plan and can be made at any time by owners/operators.
  • Administrative amendments should be made as soon as a change occurs. As an example, it is critical to keep contacts and phone numbers up to date in an SPCC plan to ensure the correct people are contacted in case of an emergency. An SPCC plan is a living document!

Keep in mind that every 5 years an SPCC plan must be reviewed and revised if changes are identified (this includes both Tier I and Tier II qualified facilities as well). This 5-year review will include identifying any changes in oil storage or spill prevention procedures/equipment at a facility. If no technical changes are identified at a facility following a 5-year review, the reviewer can sign-off on the review and a PE is not required to recertify the SPCC plan.

Here is a quick summary of what we just covered:

  • A Tier I plan does not require a PE to certify, and you can take advantage of the EPA provided template for assistance.
  • A Tier II plan can also be self-certified, but the EPA does not allow you to use their template. That would be a good place to engage resources that know the SPCC Regulations well.
  • Finally, a full PE certified plan is for those facilities that do not qualify for a Tier I or Tier II plan.

Regardless of your facility and the plan it requires – whether that be Tier I, Tier II, or full PE certified – if you are unsure how to proceed, it is still a good idea to engage resources that are familiar with the SPCC Regulation – especially if you have never developed an SPCC plan before. Antea Group is prepared to help you throughout the process and will provide the support you need to develop and maintain an SPCC plan.

For more information, reach out to Antea Group’s SPCC Plan experts.

About Antea Group
Antea®Group is an environment, health, safety, and sustainability consulting firm. By combining strategic thinking with technical expertise, we do more than effectively solve client challenges; we deliver sustainable results for a better future. We work in partnership with and advise many of the world’s most sustainable companies to address ESG-business challenges in a way that fits their pace and unique objectives. Our consultants equip organizations to better understand threats, capture opportunities and find their position of strength. Lastly, we maintain a global perspective on ESG issues through not only our work with multinational clients, but also through our sister organizations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America and as a founding member of the Inogen Alliance. Learn more at us.anteagroup.com