Underground Storage Tanks
As we discussed earlier in the EVC, if a power plant stores oil products on site, then certain oil spill prevention requirements may apply to the facility. This expanded content for tanks discusses Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) planning requirements for preventing the discharge of oil. The federal regulations for spill prevention planning emphasize the protection of surface waters, especially in case of spills.
Regulations covering bulk petroleum storage originally involved portions of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) and Clean Water Act (CWA). The passage of the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) established additional provisions relating to oil spill response. These regulations included spill prevention and response planning, spill response training, and facility design and inspection. A requirement within these regulations establishes priorities for protection and mitigation of vulnerable resources that may be at risk and for preparing effective cleanup and removal efforts. The regulations also establish procedures for notification to the EPA and state agencies in the event of certain discharges of oil.
The major elements of the oil pollution prevention regulations include:
- Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans
- Record Keeping and Reporting
- Emergency Preparedness and Response
Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan
SPCC Planning regulations contained in 40 CFR 112 were amended July 17, 2002 to serve two purposes: reduce the regulatory burden placed on facilities subject to the provisions, and to clarify certain requirements.
If a facility has a preparedness, prevention and contingency (PPC) plan, the required SPCC elements may be incorporated into it. Each SPCC Plan (the Plan) must be reviewed and certified by a registered professional engineer (PE) who is familiar with the provisions of 40 CFR Part 112, has examined (or his/her agent has examined) the facility and attests that the plan has been prepared in accordance with good engineering practices and 40 CFR 112 requirements, and that the facility has established procedures for required inspections and testing. In his/her certification of the SPCC plan, the PE also attests that the SPCC plan is adequate for the facility (40 CFR 112.3(d)).
According to the federal Oil Pollution Prevention regulations, facilities that are required to develop and implement an SPCC Plan are those that have the potential to discharge oil to navigable waters of the United States and:
- Have significant petroleum storage capacity aboveground, meaning 1,320 gallons or more, of oil stored in containers or operating equipment, including mobile equipment, having a capacity equal to or greater than 55 gallons (Note: containers that are "permanently closed" are excluded from this threshold); or
- Have underground storage capacity of i.e., 42,000 gallons or more. However, underground storage tanks (USTs) regulated by 40 CFR 280 and 281 (RCRA's provisions for USTs) are excluded from this threshold, as are completely buried storage tanks that are "permanently closed;" or
- Have been required by the EPA to prepare and implement an SPCC plan.
The amended regulations exempt containers less than 55 gallons in capacity from all SPCC requirements (40 CFR 112.1(d)(5)). The SPCC Plan describes potential release scenarios that might reasonably be expected from the facility, then offers appropriate measures to prevent, control and/or mitigate those potential incidents. These measures may include both physical controls and operational procedures.
Facilities subject to SPCC Planning requirements that were in operation on or
before August 16, 2002 must amend and implement their amended plan by October
31, 2007. Operations commencing between August 16, 2002 and October 31, 2007
subject to SPCC planning requirements must prepare and implement their SPCC
Plan in accordance with SPCC regulations by October 31, 2007. Any operations
subject to the SPCC regulations that commence following the October 31, 2007 must
have their SPCC Plan in place and implemented before beginning operations. (40
CFR 112.3(a) and 112.3(b))
With respect to amendments to an SPCC plan:
- EPA may require a facility to amend its SPCC plan after the agency reviews the SPCC Plan on site; or after the agency reviews information required to be submitted to the agency in the event the facility discharges oil in quantities exceeding threshold limits (see Record Keeping and Reporting section below). Such amendments must be implemented within 6 months of the change(s) to the SPCC Plan. (40 CFR 112.4(d))
- Whenever there is a change in facility design, construction operation or maintenance that materially affects the potential for discharge of a petroleum product, the SPCC Plan must be amended (40 CFR 112.5(a)). Such amendments must be implemented within 6 months of the change.
- Facilities must review their SPCC plans at least every 5 years and amend them to include more effective prevention and control technologies if the facility determines, based on its review, that the modified technologies will reduce the potential for an oil discharge. The amended SPCC plan must include (or reference) a certification statement signed by the owner/operator of the facility, indicating whether he/she will amend the SPCC Plan. Amended SPCC Plans must be implemented within 6 months of the amendment.
With the exception of amendments required by the EPA, a PE must certify any technical amendments to an SPCC Plan (i.e., amendments that require any engineering judgment; administrative changes such as names, telephone numbers, etc. need not be certified by a PE). (40 CFR 112.5(c))
The format of the SPCC Plan may vary from the format provided in the regulations. However, in this case, the SPCC Plan must include a cross-reference of its provisions to the requirements listed in the SPCC rule. (40 CFR 112.7)
Deviations from the substantive requirements (with the exception of secondary containment requirements) are allowed, provided that the SPCC Plan includes a discussion of reasons for nonconformance with the requirement and explains how an alternative measure will provide equivalent environmental protection.
The facility's SPCC Plan must include a demonstration of drainage controls, containment and diversionary structures, monitoring equipment, personnel training, inspection and record-keeping systems, security, and spill cleanup procedures. The Plan must address areas around bulk storage tanks, pipelines and potential sites of spills into navigable U.S. waters. It also must ensure that:
- Areas enclosed by secondary containment dikes (i.e., storage tanks and transfer sites) are properly maintained
- Dikes and curbing are kept in good repair and free of snow/rain water, to ensure adequate capacity
- Piping, transfer manifolds and supports are leak-free
- Maintenance tests and incident and training records are kept up-to-date
If it is not practicable to provide secondary containment (e.g., dikes, berms, retaining walls, curbing, diversion ponds, etc.) for oil storage containers, tanks, and oil-containing operating equipment, then the facility must (40 CFR 112.7(d):
- Clearly explain in the SPCC Plan why this is the case
- Conduct periodic integrity testing of bulk storage containers and leak testing of valves and piping
- Include in the SPCC Plan an oil spill contingency plan according to the provisions of 40 CFR 109, and a written commitment of manpower, equipment and materials for adequately responding to a discharge (unless the facility has already in place a Facility Response Plan in accordance with 40 CFR 112.20)
Facility inspections should be performed in accordance with written procedures developed for the facility by the owner or operator. These written procedures and a record of the inspections (e.g., usual and customary business records for tests and inspections), signed by the appropriate supervisor or inspector, should be made part of the SPCC Plan (or be referenced by the SPCC Plan) and maintained for a period of 3 years. (40 CFR 112.7(e))
The July 2002 amended SPCC rules require that facilities whose field-constructed, aboveground containers are undergoing repair, alteration, reconstruction, or change in service that might affect the risk of a discharge or failure due to brittle fracture or other catastrophe, must be evaluated for such a risk. (40 CFR 112.7(i))
A facility subject to the SPCC regulations must ensure that rainwater from diked areas does not leave the diked area (e.g., discharge to storm drains or other navigable waters) bypassing the facility treatment system without verifying that the water will not cause a discharge of oil. In addition, the facility must keep records of such storm / bypass events; records required by an applicable NPDES permit to record bypass events may be used for this SPCC Planning requirement. (40 CFR 112.8(c)(3))
The Plan must provide for testing and inspection of each aboveground container, as appropriate, to determine its integrity. (40 CFR 112.8(c)(6))
The Plan also must provide for regular examinations of all aboveground valves and pipelines by operating personnel. These examinations should include an assessment of the general condition of such items as flange joints, expansion joints, valve glands and bodies, catch pans, pipeline supports, valve locking and metal surfaces. Integrity testing (e.g., hydrostatic testing) must also be conducted on a regular schedule and when material repairs are done. (40 CFR 112.8(d)(4))
Buried piping installed or replaced on or after August 16, 2002 must have protective wrapping and coating and cathodic protection (or otherwise satisfy the corrosion protection provisions for piping in 40 CFR 280 or 281). (40 CFR 112.8(d)(1))
The SPCC Plan must be a carefully thought-out plan prepared in accordance with good engineering practices, and it must have the full approval of a management level with sufficient authority to commit the necessary resources (40 CFR 112.7). It also must include a discussion of facility conformance with the elements listed in 40 CFR 112.7, including:
A facility diagram / site layout plan. Completely buried USTs otherwise exempt from the applicability threshold criterion must be included on the diagram. (40 CFR 112.7(a)(3))
A prediction of the direction, rate of flow and total quantity of petroleum products that could be discharged from the facility as a result of each major type of failure (such as tank overflow, rupture or leakage) in cases where such a failure may reasonably be predicted (40 CFR 112.7(b))
Appropriate containment and/or diversionary structures or equipment to prevent discharged petroleum products from reaching surface water (40 CFR 112.7(c))
Full fencing and provision for locking or guarding entrance gates when the facility is unattended (40 CFR 112.7(g)(1))
Designated personnel accountable for spill prevention (40 CFR 112.7(f))
Instruction for personnel who handle oil, both in the operation and maintenance of equipment to prevent discharge of petroleum products, in the content of applicable pollution control laws and regulations, and the contents of the facility's SPCC Plan (40 CFR 112.7(f))
Annual personnel briefings to highlight known spill events, potentially malfunctioning components, and recently developed preventive measures (40 CFR 112.7(f))
Record Keeping and Reporting
If the facility is normally attended at least 4 hours a day, a complete copy of the SPCC Plan must be kept on site (or at the nearest field office for unattended facilities). The plan must be made available to EPA personnel for on-site review any time during normal working hours (40 CFR 112.3(e)).
While the regulations do not specifically require that SPCC training provided to personnel (as per 40 CFR 112.7(f)) be documented, maintaining records of SPCC training provided will help demonstrate the extent to which training requirements are met.
A facility must submit the SPCC Plan and amendments to the EPA and appropriate state agency whenever it has done either of the following (40 CFR 112.4(a)):
- Discharged more than 1,000 gallons of petroleum products into surface water in a single spill event.
- Discharged more than 42 gallons petroleum products into surface water in each of two reportable spill events within 12 months. .
Under either of the above circumstances, the facility must also submit the following both to the EPA and to the appropriate state agency (40 CFR 112.4(a)):
- Facility name, location, and owner
- Maximum oil storage capacity and normal daily throughput
- Description of the facility, including a location map, a topographical map and flow diagrams
- Analysis of the cause of the spill, including a failure analysis of the system in which the failure occurred
- Description of the corrective actions taken, including a description of equipment repairs and replacements
- Additional preventive measures planned or taken to minimize the possibility of recurrence
Emergency Preparedness and Response
Non-transportation related onshore facilities that "could reasonably be expected to cause substantial harm to the environment" by discharging oil into surface water or adjoining shorelines must prepare a facility response plan and submit it to the EPA (40 CFR 112.20). Facilities are generally considered to pose a threat of substantial harm through discharge of oil only if they transfer oil over water to or from vessels, or if they store a million gallons or more of oil or petroleum products (see Attachment C-I to Appendix C of 40 CFR Part 112). It is unlikely that a college or university would meet either of these criteria. Nonetheless, organizations that require SPCC Plans must complete a certification stating in essence that they perform neither of these activities (Section 3.0 of Appendix C of 40 CFR Part 112).
The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of oil into surface water in "such quantities as may be harmful" (33 USC 1321(b)(3)). Under federal regulations, this definition includes discharges of oil that violate applicable water quality standards or that cause a film, sheen or discoloration on the water or adjoining shorelines (40 CFR 110.3). A facility that discharges oil to surface water in a potentially harmful quantity must immediately notify the National Response Center (NRC) at 1-800-424-8802 (40 CFR 110.6).
For the complete SPCC Plan regulations, click here:
40 CFR 112