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SPCC Plans to be Updated by July 1, 2009

Since July 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed and promulgated a number of changes to the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) plan regulation. The EPA has continually extended the deadline for the implementation of these changes, but now it appears that the latest deadline, July 1, 2009, will not be postponed any longer even though the EPA has not disseminated the latest proposed revisions. Therefore, SPCC plans written to meet previous versions of the SPCC regulation need to be updated by July 1, 2009 to meet the latest version (i.e., May 16, 2007).

The changes are significant and may affect whether a facility is subject to the SPCC regulation. For example, underground storage tanks (UST) that are regulated under state or federal UST regulations are now exempt under the SPCC regulation. Additionally, the applicability requirements no longer include the single 660-gallon tank capacity threshold, and containers with volume less than 55 gallons do not need to be included when determining the facility’s oil storage capacity.

Other major changes to the SPCC regulation:

  • SPCC plan reviews are now required every five years instead of every three years.
  • Field-constructed aboveground storage tanks must be evaluated for risk of a discharge due to fracture or other catastrophe when undergoing repair, alteration, reconstruction, or change in service.
  • Facilities may deviate from the SPCC requirements as long as equivalent environmental protection is provided.
  • The SPCC plan must include a facility diagram.
  • Facilities may implement an oil-spill contingency plan in lieu of secondary containment for certain types of oil-filled equipment (i.e., without requiring a demonstration of impracticability).
  • Mobile refuelers have an exemption from secondary containment.
  • Oil used for motive power is not subject to the SPCC regulation.
  • Certain qualified facilities may self-certify their SPCC plan in lieu of requiring a Professional Engineer’s (P.E.) certification.

Although the EPA is allowing self-certification, some state boards of technical professions may consider self-certification by a nonengineer as practicing engineering without a license (i.e., it may be illegal in some states). Terracon has contacted several state boards regarding this issue, and they still consider the preparation of an SPCC plan to be the practice of engineering. Therefore, the SPCC plans will need to be prepared by a Professional Engineer in any states that adopt this position.