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U.S. EPA Proposes One-Year Extension of SPCC Plan Compliance Deadline

08.01.2010

By Andy Bowman, Attorney, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP

In December 2006, December 2008 and November 2009, U.S. EPA published final rules making amendments and technical corrections to the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule. These amendments became effective on January 14, 2010 and established a compliance deadline of November 10, 2010 by which owners and operators of regulated facilities must prepare or amend their SPCC Plans and implement those Plans. The SPCC Rule applies to owners and operators of non-transportation facilities that drill, produce, store, process, refine, transfer, distribute, use or consume oil or oil products that could be reasonably expected to discharge oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. Facilities are required to have a SPCC Plan if they have aboveground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons or completely buried oil storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons.

Since the initial amendments to the SPCC Rule were finalized in July 2002, the U.S. EPA has extended the compliance deadline several times to enable owners and operators adequate time to review the December 2006, December 2008 and November 2009 amendments and then make appropriate changes to their SPCC Pans. On August 3, 2010, U.S. EPA published notice of a proposal to further extend the compliance deadline from November 10, 2010 to November 10, 2011 for certain regulated facilities. 75 FR 45572 (August 3, 2010). The proposed compliance deadline extension would apply to all regulated facilities other than drilling, production or workover facilities that are completely offshore or that have both offshore and onshore components and all onshore facilities required to have and submit a Facility Response Plan (FRP). Facilities required to have an FRP are those with storage capacities of 1 million gallons or more that could cause substantial harm or those with storage capacities at or above 42,000 gallons and that transfer oil to or from a vessel over water. These excepted facilities would remain subject to the November 10, 2010 compliance deadline.

If the proposed extension of the compliance deadline is finalized, owners or operators of facilities, other than the excepted facilities, will be required to make any necessary amendments to their SPCC Plans and fully implement the amended Plans by November 10, 2011. To be eligible for the compliance extension, owners or operators of facilities in operation before August 16, 2002 must continue to maintain their existing SPCC Plans. If a regulated facility comes into operation after August 16, 2002 but before November 10, 2011, the owner or operator will need to prepare and implement its SPCC Plan on or before November 10, 2011. Facilities becoming operational after November 10, 2011 will be required to prepare and implement a SPCC Plan before beginning operations.

U.S. EPA is taking comments on the proposed extension of the compliance deadline until August 18, 2010.

Additional information is available athttp://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/spcc/index.htm.

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