Special Topics in Environmental Management

SPCC Requirements for Marinas

Of all the places to store and use oil and petroleum-based fuels, marinas are among the most perilous due to their close proximity to water. For that reason, marina owners and operators should be especially mindful of their responsibilities under the SPCC rule. Here are the steps to take:

First determine if the marina is subject to the SPCC rule. According to the regulations, marinas that have an aggregate above-ground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons or an underground storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons, must prepare and implement an SPCC plan to prevent any discharge of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.

Marina’s should also be mindful of the different types of “oil” covered by the SPCC regulation which the EPA defines in 40 CFR 112 as “oil of any kind or in any form, including but not limited to petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, oil refuse, and oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil and oily mixtures.” This also includes non-petroleum oils, synthetic oils, animal fats, oils and greases, and vegetable oils.


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SPCC Plans should be tailored to each site and facility but there are several common elements that must be addressed, including:

  • The operating procedures implemented by the facility to prevent oil spills;
  • The control measures in place to prevent a spill from entering navigable waters or adjoining shorelines;
  • The countermeasures to be implemented in the event of spill to contain, clean up, and mitigate the effects of oil spills that impact navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.
  • The training of those employees that handle oil on the contents of the plan.

Before beginning development of an SPCC Plan, marina owners and operators must also determine if they are allowed to certify the Plan themselves (self-certify), or if they will require certification by a licensed professional engineer (PE). The two determining factors for self-certification are:
1) Total aboveground oil storage capacity of 10,000 U.S. gallons or less, and
2) In the three years prior to 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. (Spills related to natural disasters, acts of war or terrorism are not included in this count.)


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If a marina cannot meet these requirements, a PE must certify the Plan by confirming that:

1) They are familiar with the SPCC rule requirements,
2) They or an agent have visited and examined the facility,
3) The Plan was prepared in accordance with good engineering practices, and considered applicable industry standards and the rule requirements,
4) The Plan contains established procedures for required inspections and testing, and
5) The Plan is adequate for the facility.

SPCC Plans must be reviewed by the marina owner/operator at least every five years or whenever significant changes in oil storage occur. A record of the review should be kept in the beginning of the plan, including the reviewer’s signature, date signed, and a list of any changes. Major changes such as new tank installations or removals may require a formal amendment signed by an engineer. Management must also review and sign the Plan every three years.

Facilities that meet EPA’s criteria for “significant and substantial harm” (based on storage capacity, proximity to water, spill history, tank age, etc.)  must also prepare a facility response plan (FRP) that demonstrates the facility’s preparedness to respond to a worst case oil discharge.
All SPCC Plans must be kept onsite for EPA review. If a single spill of greater than 1,000 gallons occurs or two discharges of 42 gallons or more occur within one year, a copy of the SPCC plan must be submitted to the regional EPA office. Many states also have additional requirements for marinas and state agencies should be consulted.