Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Plan in the United States
Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plan
in Environmental Law
A plan required by the Clean Water Act for some storage tanks that may release oil into surface water. An aboveground storage tank with a capacities of over 660 gallons, or two or more aboveground storage tanks with more than 1320 gallons capacity may be subject to the requirements. Underground tanks with a capacity of more than 40,000 gallons also fall into the volume class covered.
The other factor that determines whether an SPCC plan is required is the likelihood that water will be impacted if a release occurs. The owner or operator of the facility must consider the location of the tanks, topography, and other physical aspects of the facility. If a plan is required, it must address how the owner or operator will react to a release from the tank and how releases will be prevented. The plan must be certified by an engineer and kept on site. If the facility changes so that the plan is no longer valid, it must be amended.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 beefed up the requirements for SPCC plans. The Clean Water Act’s SPCC provision has included onshore facilities for some time, but the Oil Pollution Act added SPCC provisions for tank vessels and offshore facilities. The new law has now been incorporated into the Clean Water Act.
SPCC plans must address response to a worst-case discharge. They must be consistent with the National Contingency Plan, which governs hazardous substance [see hazardous substances] release cleanups, even though petroleum is excluded from the definition of hazardous substance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. All plans must specify a person at the facility who has authority to exercise the plan; require immediate notification to the appropriate agency; provide for training, unannounced drills, and equipment testing; and arrange for response personnel to be obtained. Reports must be made to the National Response Center in the event of a release.
Enforcement of the SPCC provisions is similar to that of other Clean Water Act sections. The government may assess administrative penalties up to $125,000 for violations. If the EPA sues, the authorized penalty is $25,000 per day or $1,000 per barrel of Oil, and it may be tripled if gross negligence or misconduct is involved. Criminal penalties may range up to $250,000 for an individual and $1 million for an organization, plus imprisonment for up to 15 years.
Based on “Environment and the Law. A Dictionary”.