SPCC Plan exemptions
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July 18, 2017
SPCC Plan exemptions

Meeting the requirements for a federal Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan can range from relatively straightforward for Tier 1 facilities that can come into compliance by completing and self-certifying a plan template provided by the EPA to complex and costly for facilities that must have their Plan certified by a professional engineer. In either case, managers should have no doubt that they are required to develop an SPCC Plan. The Agency’s rules at 40 CFR 112.1(d) list 11 specific types of containers (and all associated piping and equipment) that are exempt from the SPCC requirements. Following are the exemptions and several key points for each, provided by EPA’s SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors:

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  • Permanently closed containers. A container is permanently closed if all liquid and sludge has been removed from it and all connecting lines, all connecting lines and piping have been disconnected from the container and blanked off, all valves (except for ventilation valves) have been closed and locked, and conspicuous signs have been posted on each container stating that it is closed and noting the date of closure. Also, any container brought onto a facility that has never stored oil is not subject to the SPCC rule, nor is it counted toward the facility capacity until it stores oil.
  • Offshore oil drilling, production, or workover facilities subject to Department of the Interior (DOI) regulations. The DOI generally has jurisdiction over facilities, including pipelines, located seaward of the coastline. Coastline is defined in the Submerged Lands Act to mean “the line of ordinary low water along that portion of the coast which is in direct contact with the open sea and the line marking the seaward limit of inland waters.”
  • Underground storage tanks (USTs). The UST Program defines a “UST” as a tank and any underground piping that has at least 10 percent of its combined volume underground. However, under the SPCC rule, only completely buried tanks subject to all UST Program requirements are exempt from the rule. Any tanks that are not completely buried are considered aboveground storage tanks and subject to the SPCC rule.
  • Underground emergency diesel generator tanks at nuclear power stations. This exemption includes both tanks that are completely buried and tanks that are below-grade and vaulted.
  • Wastewater treatment facilities. These facilities are subject to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting programs. But the production, recovery, or recycling of oil is not considered wastewater treatment; generally lack NPDES permits, and may be subject to the SPCC requirements.
  • Motive power containers. This category covers a broad range of any onboard bulk storage containers used primarily to power the movement of a motor vehicle or ancillary, onboard, oil-filled operational equipment. This exemption does not include non-self-propelled stationary or towed equipment, such as towed ground service equipment or any oil-powered generator.
  • Hot-mix asphalt (HMA) and HMA containers. HMA is a blend of asphalt cement and aggregate material, such as stone, sand, gravel, or ground rubber tires, which is formed into final paving products for use on roads and parking lots. This exemption from SPCC regulations is based on the fact that HMA is unlikely to flow as a result of the entrained aggregate, such that there would be very few circumstances, if any, in which a discharge of HMA would have the potential to reach navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. However, asphalt cement, as well as asphalt derivatives such as asphalt cutbacks and emulsions, remains subject to the SPCC rule.
  • Heating oil containers at single-family residences. A single-family residence is a household that has direct ownership of the oil stored in the heating oil container. Owners and operators of commercial facilities, such as a multifamily structure (e.g., condominiums and apartment complexes) remain subject to the SPCC rule.
  • Pesticide application equipment and related mix containers. Pesticide formulations may include petroleum- or vegetable-based oils in concentrated formulations or may contain crop oil or adjuvant oil in the mix formulations added just before application. The EPA adopted this exemption because this type of pesticide use and related mix containers are already subject to regulation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
  • Intrafacility gathering lines subject to Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements. Exempt lines must be marked EXEMPTon the required SPCC facility diagram. Some intrafacility gathering lines are subject to DOT jurisdiction, but not DOT regulations; such lines are subject to the SPCC program.
  • Milk and milk product containers. Butter, cheese, and dry-milk containers are a few examples of milk product containers subject to the exemption. All milk and/or milk product transfer and processing activities are included in the scope of this exemption.
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