Special Topics in Environmental Management

Mobile Refuelers Responsibility Under SPCC

Equipment that met EPA’s definition of a mobile refueler were exempted from the sized-secondary containment requirements applicable to other types of oil-bearing equipment such as bulk storage containers or tank batteries. However, if you are a qualifying mobile refueler, you are still required to meet general secondary containment requirements.

A few definitions you should know:

  • A mobile refueler is a bulk storage container onboard a vehicle or being towed, which is designed or used solely to store and transport fuel for transfer into or from an aircraft, motor vehicle, locomotive, vessel, ground service equipment, or other oil storage container.
  • Non-transportation-related facilities are defined in a 1971 memo signed by EPA and DOT, which delineated the respective jurisdictions of each agency. According to the memo, highway vehicles and railroad cars that are used for the transport of oil exclusively within the confines of a non-transportation-related facility and that are not intended to transport oil in interstate or intrastate commerce are considered non-transportation-related, and therefore fall under EPA’s regulatory jurisdiction. Transportation in this definition refers to the commercial movement of oil. Transportation can occur by both pipelines and vehicles.
  • Sized-secondary containment means containment is provided for the entire capacity of the largest single container and sufficient freeboard to contain precipitation. Types of sized-secondary containment include dikes and drainage trenches.
  • General secondary containment refers to a broad range of “appropriate” containment and/or diversionary structures or equipment to prevent a discharge from the primary containment system such that the discharge will not escape containment before cleanup occurs. The regulatory language at 40 CFR 112,7(c) indicates that one of a number of prevention systems “or its equivalent” must be used for onshore facilities. These include dikes, berms, retaining walls, curbing, retention ponds, or sorbent materials. For offshore facilities, curbing or drip pans or sumps and collection systems or their equivalent are required.
  • A discharge is a discharge of oil into or upon the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines in quantities that may be harmful under the CWA and which causes a sheen or discoloration on the surface of the water or adjoining shorelines; causes a sludge or emulsion to be deposited beneath the surface of the water or upon adjoining shorelines; or violates an applicable water quality standard.

Several other points to keep in mind:

  • When mobile or portable bulk storage containers (such as drums, skids, railcars, and totes) are in a stationary, unattended mode, and not under the direct oversight or control of facility personnel, the sized-secondary containment requirements apply.
  • When mobile or portable bulk storage containers (other than mobile refuelers) are involved in on-site movement, e.g., being towed by vehicles (including locomotives) or moved to/from a designated operational area, the general secondary containment requirements apply.
  • A facility with both transportation-related and non-transportation-related activities is a complex and is subject to the dual jurisdiction of EPA and DOT. Also, an activity might at one time subject a facility to one agency’s jurisdiction, and a different activity at the same facility using the same structure or equipment might subject the facility to the jurisdiction of another agency. In other words, a facility that is subject to DOT requirements can still be subject to EPA’s SPCC regulations.

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