Environmental Insights

Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule

Mitch Lagerstrom, Director of Consulting - EHS Practice

Date: 8/19/2021

The SPCC (Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure) rule was put in place by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to prevent oil discharges from occurring that impact navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. This rule is part of the EPA’s oil spill prevention program under the Clean Water Act of 1974.

SPCC is required for facilities with a combined aboveground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons OR buried oil storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons, while considering a reasonable expectation for discharge to U.S. navigable waters/shorelines. When making the applicability determination, ditches, storm sewers, drainage systems, creeks, streams and precipitation runoff must all be considered. If eligible under the SPCC rule, the facility owner or operator is required to prevent oil spills and have an SPCC plan in place.

Preventing oil spills can include such measures as suitable oil storage containers/tanks, secondary containment, venting, over-fill alarms, containment in oil transfer locations, required training and having spill cleanup onsite.

The SPCC plan must include all of the many required elements and could either be a self-certified plan or a Professional Engineer (PE) certified plan, depending on which criteria applies. Many types of oil are included under the SPCC rule, including but not limited to, petroleum, fats, animal oils, fish, vegetable oils, fruit and nut oils, synthetic and mineral. EPA uses the U.S. Coast Guard compiled “List of Petroleum and Non-Petroleum Oils” as a guide when determining if a particular substance is an oil.1

One gallon of oil spilled contaminates a million gallons of water. Any oil discharge to a waterway is required to be reported to the National Response Center immediately.

[1] U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (2013, December 16). SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors, at 2-4. Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2014-04/documents/spcc_guidance_fulltext_2014.pdf