EPA SPCC Requirement

Why does the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) require the SPCC plan for certain facilities?

Environmental protection is paramount in today’s world. The government organization known as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the environment in the US. One of its significant regulations is the SPCC (Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure) requirement. This content delves into the intricacies of this government mandate and its implications for facility managers, providing valuable information for those in the awareness stage.

Diving Deeper into the EPA SPCC Requirement:  

The SPCC rule, or Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure, is not just a set of guidelines but a crucial regulation set forth by this official agency. Its inception was driven by the need to prevent oil spills that could harm the environment, particularly our water sources. The primary objective of the SPCC requirement is to ensure facilities, especially those with significant oil storage capacity, take proactive measures to prevent oil spills and have a plan in place to respond if they occur. According to the official U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the SPCC rule is designed to prevent oil discharges into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. 

Unraveling the SPCC Plans:  

An SPCC plan is a facility-specific, detailed protocol outlining how a facility will prevent, control, and respond to oil spills. With the navigation through its complexities, one can discover that it’s not a one-size-fits-all document; it’s tailored to the unique characteristics and potential spill risks of each facility. For facility managers, understanding the nuances of their SPCC plan, from basics to intricate details, is essential to ensure both compliance and environmental safety.

Determining Applicability and Deadlines:  

Not every facility, be it an operator or owner, is required to have an SPCC plan. The EPA, with its organization chart and budget, mandates it for those that store, process, or use oil and could reasonably be expected to discharge oil into US waters or adjoining shorelines. Deadlines for compliance vary based on facility size, tier, and spill history, but staying ahead of these deadlines, checking alerts, and ensuring the padlock of safety is crucial to avoid penalties.

Crafting the Comprehensive SPCC Plan:  

Developing an SPCC plan involves a thorough assessment of the facility, identifying potential spill sources, and outlining prevention and response measures. Collaboration with environmental experts, like those at RSB Environmental, can ensure that the plan is both compliant and effective. This process also involves research centers planning and gathering fact sheets for better results. 

Steps to Comply with the SPCC Rule:

  1. Assessment: Conduct a thorough evaluation of the facility to identify potential oil spill sources.
  2. Develop the Plan: Outline preventive measures, response strategies, and secondary containment systems.
  3. Training: Ensure all staff are trained on the procedures and risks associated with oil spills.
  4. Regular Reviews: Update the SPCC Plan to reflect changes in regulations or facility operations.

Taking Charge of Spill Prevention:  

Preventing spills is the first line of defense. This involves regular equipment checks, maintenance schedules, and employing computer technologies that can detect and prevent potential spills. Facility managers play a crucial role in ensuring these measures are consistently implemented, ensuring no waste or toxics harm the environment.

Understanding Secondary Containment:  

Secondary containment systems, like storage tanks, act as a backup, capturing spills if primary measures fail. These systems, whether they’re dikes, berms, or other structures, are essential in preventing spilled oil from reaching water sources, meeting the containment requirements set by the government.

Prioritizing Oversight and Recordkeeping:  

Regular inspections by regional inspectors are a must. They ensure that all prevention measures are working as intended. Moreover, meticulous recordkeeping, maintaining a list of efforts, is not just about compliance; it’s about having a clear history of efforts made to prevent spills, which can be invaluable in refining strategies over time.

Training: The Frontline Defense:  

Training, whether it’s for a trainer or operators, is the backbone of any emergency response. Ensuring that staff knows the procedures, understands the risks, and can act swiftly in the event of an oil spill is paramount. Regular drills and scenario-based training sessions can make all the difference in a crisis.

Ensuring the SPCC Plan Stays Relevant:  

The world of environmental protection is ever-evolving. As such, SPCC plans need regular reviews to reflect changes in regulations, facility operations, or potential spill risks. Regular reviews ensure that the plan remains relevant and effective, addressing any problem or question that arises. Recent Updates on the SPCC Rule:

The EPA has recently made amendments to the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulations, which may impact certain aspects of the SPCC rule. Facilities are advised to stay updated on these changes and adjust their SPCC Plans accordingly.

Understanding the Repercussions of Non-Compliance:  

Non-compliance with the EPA SPCC requirement can lead to hefty penalties. Beyond the financial implications, there’s also the potential harm to the environment and a facility’s reputation. Staying informed, checking feedback, and being proactive is the best strategy for facility managers.

Frequently Asked Questions  

What is the primary objective of the EPA SPCC requirement?  

The main goal is to prevent oil spills that could harm the environment, particularly water sources.


How often should an SPCC plan be reviewed or updated?  

Regular reviews are recommended, especially when there are changes in facility operations or regulations.


Are all facilities required to have secondary containment systems?  

While not all facilities need them, those with a higher risk of spills or proximity to water sources should seriously consider them.


How can facility managers ensure their SPCC plan is compliant?  

Collaborating with environmental experts and staying updated on EPA regulations is crucial.


What are the penalties for non-compliance with the SPCC requirement?  

Penalties can be financial, but there’s also potential environmental harm and reputational damage to consider.


Environmental protection is a shared responsibility. For facility managers, understanding and complying with the EPA SPCC requirement is not just about avoiding penalties; it’s about playing a part in preserving our environment for future generations. At RSB Environmental, we’re committed to helping facilities navigate these regulations and ensure a safer, cleaner future. Stay updated with the latest in environmental protection and compliance. Sign up for Enews from RSB Environmental and be at the forefront of environmental safety and regulations.

If you need any assistance with your EPA SPCC Requirement, please email info@rsbenv.com. We look forward to hearing from you.