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[2012; R-2013 | Keywords: Regulatory Compliance, SPCC]

For almost four decades, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has used the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan as the primary resource of preventing oil spills from contaminating surface waters. A SPCC Plan is a preventive measure to assure that a spill from an Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) is contained and countermeasures are established to prevent oil spills that could reach navigable waters.

If your business has AST with a capacity to store an aggregate total of 1,320 gallons of oil or more (in 55 gallon containers or larger), or 42,000 gallons of below ground storage not regulated by state policy, you must have and implement an SPCC Plan. Note: CFR Title 40 Part 112.2 defines oil as motor oil, diesel fuel, gasoline, waste oil, petroleum or other refined oils, sludge, and grease.

Each SPCC Plan is unique to each facility, and includes specific information dealing with the location and number of ASTs, however, each plan is based upon the amount of oil stored at each site and container capacity, and your SPCC Plan may fall into one of three tiers (categories).

Tier I:

  1. a total aboveground oil storage capacity of 10,000 U.S. gallons or less;
  2. no aboveground oil storage containers with a capacity greater than 5,000 U.S. gallons; and
  3. in the 3 years prior to the date the SPCC Plan is certified, had no single discharge of oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines exceeding 1,000 U.S. gallons, or no two discharges of oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines each exceeding 42 U.S. gallons within any 12-month period.

Tier II:

  1. total aboveground oil storage capacity of 10,000 U.S. gallons or less;
  2. no aboveground oil storage containers with a capacity greater than 10,000 U.S. gallons; and
  3. in the 3 years prior to the date the SPCC Plan is certified, had no single discharge of oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines exceeding 1,000 U.S. gallons, or no two discharges of oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines each exceeding 42 U.S. gallons within any 12-month period.

Tier III:

  1. Greater than 10,000 gallon aggregate storage capacity.

Under current federal law, if your business qualifies as Tier I or Tier II, you may elect to self-certify your own SPCC plan. If your business qualifies as Tier III you are required by law to have a professional engineer develop your SPCC plan. Again, no matter what Tier your business may be, if your business has AST with a capacity to store an aggregate total of 1,320 gallons of oil or more (in 55 gallon containers or larger), you must have, and implement, a SPCC Plan.

The EPA periodically performs on-site inspections to assure compliance with the SPCC Plan regulations and the EPA will levy a fine for each item found to be in non-compliance. There is even a possible fine for failing to list within your SPCC Plan the areas of non-compliance at the site.

You must keep a copy of your SPCC Plan at your business if you operate the Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) facility more than four hours a day. If you operate the Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) site less than four hours a day you may keep your SPCC Plan at the nearest field office. The EPA requires that a SPCC Plan be available to the EPA for on-site review and inspection during normal working hours.

If you would like to self-certify as a Tier I facility, click here to use a step-by-step template that the EPA has provided for users.

If you self-certify as a Tier II facility, you must meet the requirements and standards of a plan designed by a professional engineer. You may choose to have a professional engineer assist your business with the development of a plan, but you may submit the document as self-certified.

In the event that you need to certify as a Tier III facility, the Association recommends that you work with a professional engineer from your state.

In Iowa, click here to help identify a professional engineer in your area by using the “search by name” feature.

In Nebraska, click here to help identify a professional engineer in your area by using the “city” and “state” search feature.

If you have additional regulatory questions, you may contact Alan K. Hancock with the U.S. EPA Region 7, p 913.551.7647

If you have any other questions, please contact Will Rogers with the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association, p 800.622.0016