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U.S. EPA Pushes Back Effective Date of SPCC Rule Changes

04.01.2009

By Andy Bowman, Attorney, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP

On March 30, 2009, the U.S. EPA announced that the April 4, 2009 effective date of the December 5, 2008 amendments to the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (“SPCC”) regulations has been extended. The amendments will now be effective on January 14, 2010. In addition, the U.S. EPA is requesting comments on whether a further extension of the effective date should be granted. The deadline for submitting comments will be announced when notice of the extension to January 14, 2010 is published in the Federal Register.

The SPCC regulations apply to facilities that have above-ground oil storage capacity of greater than 1,320 gallons or underground storage of greater than 42,000 gallons. The rule requires these facilities to prepare and implement SPCC Plans. The 2008 amendments to the rule exempt certain facilities from the SPCC requirements and provide additional flexibility for certain facilities when preparing their SPCC plans. Specifically, the amendments exempt the following containers from the SPCC requirements:

  • Hot-mix asphalt and hot-mix asphalt containers;
  • Residential heating oil containers used solely at single-family residences;
  • Pesticide application equipment and related mix containers;
  • Underground oil storage tanks that supply emergency diesel generators at nuclear power generation facilities;
  • Intra-facility gathering lines subject to the pipeline regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation and
  • Produced water containers that do not contain oil in harmful quantities (as certified by a professional engineer).

The 2008 amendments also provide a new provision that allows certain smaller facilities to prepare a less burdensome “SPCC Plan template” rather than a full SPCC plan. Under the 2006 amendments to the rule, the owners and operators of “qualified facilities,” facilities with less than 10,000 gallons of above-ground storage, were given the option of self-certifying their SPCC plans rather than requiring that the plans be reviewed and certified by a professional engineer. The 2008 amendment splits the “qualified facility” definition into two categories – Tier I and Tier II qualified facilities. Tier 1 qualified facilities are facilities that have no individual above-ground storage containers with a capacity greater than 5,000 gallons. These Tier I facilities may use the streamlined “SPCC Plan template” rather than preparing a full SPCC plan. The template can be found in Appendix G of the revised rule.

Other changes to the rule include:

  • A revised definition of the term “facility” to clarify the facilities boundaries;
  • A new definition of the term “loading/unloading rack” to clarify when these units are subject to the rule;
  • Amendments to the general secondary containment requirement;
  • Exemption for non-transportation-related tank trucks from sized secondary containment requirements;
  • Amendments to the security measure provisions to allow facilities to tailor the security measures to the specific characteristics of the facility; and
  • Amendments to the integrity testing requirements for bulk storage containers to allow greater flexibility in the use of industry standards at all facilities.

More information on the SPCC Rules can be found at: www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/spcc.

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