Special Topics in Environmental Management

Certification and Your SPCC Plan

EPA compromised by splitting the responsibilities. Here’s what they did:

  • Self certification is allowed if the facility has a total aboveground oil storage capacity of 10,000 U.S. gallons or less; and in the 3 years before the date the SPCC Plan is certified, the facility has 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.
  • If the facility does not meet the above criteria, the SPCC plan must be certified by a licensed PE. By certifying the SPCC plan, the PE confirms that:
    • He/she is familiar with the requirements of the rule.
    • He/she or an agent has visited and examined the facility.
    • The SPCC plan has been prepared in accordance with good engineering practices, including consideration of applicable industry standards, and with the requirements of the rule.
    • Procedures for required inspections and testing have been established.
    • The SPCC plan is adequate for the facility.

Some Tips for Choosing and Working with a PE

When self-certifying a facility’s SPCC Plan, the owner/operator makes a similar statement. Bear in mind that no matter who certifies the SPCC plan—PE or owner/operator—ultimately, it is the owner/operator who is responsible for complying with the rule. Also, the plan must be amended when there are changes in facility design, construction, operation, or maintenance that materially affect the facility’s potential for the discharge of oil; or if there are two or more spills in 12 months, or one spill of at least 1,000 gallons.

What to Do Next

If you are unsure if your facility is subject to the federal SPCC regulations, do not delay in conducting an inventory of your oil storage capacity. If you are still unsure, your best option may be to retain a PE with documented experience in SPCC regulations. While we do not make a habit of advising managers to resort to acquiring outside assistance, we feel this is a particularly risky time to be in noncompliance with the SPCC program, and an expedited strategy to be legally sound is highly recommended.