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General Description

Depending on the volume of fuel stored onsite, location, and activities occurring certain non-transportation-related onshore or offshore facilities that store, transport, or dispense petroleum products are required to prepare either a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan or a Facility Response Plan (FRP). They are also required to adequately train their personnel in spill response procedures.

Summary of Federal Requirements

For the purposes of spill response regulations issued under 40 CFR 112, oil includes "oil of any kind or in any form, including, but not limited to: fats, oils, or greases of animal, fish, or marine mammal origin; vegetable oils, including oils from seeds, nuts, fruits, or kernels; and, other oils and greases, including petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, synthetic oils, mineral oils, oil refuse, or oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil" (40 CFR 112.2).

Other important definitions include:

Non-petroleum Oil- oil of any kind that is not petroleum-based, including but not limited to: Fats, oils, and greases of animal, fish, or marine mammal origin; and vegetable oils, including oils from seeds, nuts, fruits, and kernels (40 CFR 112.2)

Offshore Facility- any facility of any kind (other than a vessel or public vessel) located in, on, or under any of the navigable waters of the United States, and any facility of any kind that is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and is located in, on, under any other waters (40 CFR 112.2).

Oil-filled Operational Equipment - equipment that includes an oil storage container (or multiple containers) in which the oil is present solely to support the function of the apparatus or the device. Oil-filled operational equipment is not considered a bulk storage container, and does not include oil-filled manufacturing equipment (flow-through process). Examples of oil-filled operational equipment include, but are not limited to, hydraulic systems, lubricating systems (e.g., those for pumps, compressors and other rotating equipment, including pumpjack lubrication systems), gear boxes, machining coolant systems, heat transfer systems, transformers, circuit breakers, electrical switches, and other systems containing oil solely to enable the operation of the device (40 CFR 112.2)

Onshore Facility- any facility of any kind located in, on, or under any land within the United States, other than submerged lands (40 CFR 112.2)

Petroleum Oil- petroleum in any form, including but not limited to crude oil, fuel oil, mineral oil, sludge, oil refuse, and refined products (40 CFR 112.2)

Vessel- every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water, other than a public vessel (40 CFR 112.2)

Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan

NOTE: This is a simplified discussion on the applicability, development, and implementation of the SPCC Plan.
See EPA's " SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors" for detailed guidance.

Scenario 1

There is a total aboveground oil storage capacity of 1,320 gal or greater onsite (this only includes containers/storage of oil that are 55 gal or greater), including:

  • Only aboveground containers/tanks with a capacity of 55 gal or greater, and
  • Any container/tank that is used for standby storage, for seasonal storage, or for temporary storage, or not otherwise "permanently closed," and
  • Any "bunkered tank" or "partially buried tank," or any container in a vault, each of which is considered an aboveground storage container for purposes of 40 CFR 112.

NOTE: The following types of containers/tanks ARE NOT included in the determination of total aboveground storage capacity:

  • a container that is "permanently closed"
  • a "motive power container" although the transfer of fuel or other oil into a motive power container at an otherwise regulated facility is not eligible for exemption
  • a hot-mix asphalt or any hot-mix asphalt container
  • a container for heating oil used solely at a single-family residence
  • pesticide application equipment and related mix containers
  • a produced water container and any associated piping or appurtenances downstream of the container, that meets the requirements for oil production facility bulk storage containers.

Scenario 2

There is a total underground storage capacity of greater than 42,000 gal of oil, including:

  • Only underground containers/tanks with a capacity of 55 gal or greater, and
  • Any completely buried tank, and
  • Any underground container/tank that is used for standby storage, for seasonal storage, or for temporary storage, or not otherwise "permanently closed."

NOTE: The requirement for an SPCC Plan does not apply to the following:

  • USTS that supply emergency diesel generators at a nuclear power generation facility licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and are completely buried USTs and their piping, ancillary equipment, and containment systems are regulated by 40 CFR 280 or a state program
  • Any facility or part thereof used exclusively for wastewater treatment and not used to satisfy any requirement of 40 CFR 112. [NOTE: The production, recovery, or recycling of oil is not considered wastewater treatment.]
  • intra-facility gathering lines subject to the regulatory requirements of 49 CFR 192 or 195, except that such a line's location must be identified and marked as "exempt" on the facility diagram if the facility is otherwise subject to 40 CFR 112.)

There are extensive content requirements for the SPCC Plan which depend on the makeup of a given facility. A Template is available for use by SPCC-needing facilities which have:

  • a total aboveground oil storage capacity of 10,000 U.S. gallons or less;
  • no aboveground oil storage containers with a capacity greater than 5,000 U.S. gallons; and
  • in the 3 years prior to the date the SPCC Plan is certified, 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.

The SPCC Plan must be reviewed and evaluated at least every 5 years and amended within 6 mo of the review to include more effective prevention and control technology if the technology has been field-proven at the time of the review and will significantly reduce the likelihood of a discharge from the facility. The review andy any amendments must be documented.

The SPCC Plan must be amended whenever there is a change in the facility design, construction, operation, or maintenance that materially affects its potential for a discharge as described in 40 CFR 112.1(b). Examples of changes that may require amendment of the SPCC Plan include, but are not limited to: commissioning or decommissioning containers; replacement, reconstruction, or movement of containers; reconstruction, replacement, or installation of piping systems; construction or demolition that might alter secondary containment structures; changes of product or service; or revision of standard operation or maintenance procedures at a facility.

The SPCC Plan must either be certified by a Professional Engineer (PE) or self-certified. Self-certification may only be done when the facility meets one of the following Tier I or Tier II qualified facility criteria:

  • a Tier I qualified facility meets the qualification criteria for Tier II qualified facilities and has no individual aboveground oil storage container with a capacity greater than 5,000 U.S. gal
  • a Tier II qualified facility is one that has had no single discharge exceeding 1,000 U.S. gal or no two discharges each exceeding 42 U.S. gal within any 12 mo period in the 3 yr prior to the SPCC Plan self-certification date, or since becoming subject to 40 CFR 112 if the facility has been in operation for less than 3 yr [other than discharges that are the result of natural disasters, acts of war, or terrorism], and has an aggregate aboveground oil storage capacity of 10,000 U.S. gal or less.

Facility Response Plan

Nontransportation related onshore facilities that, because of location, could reasonably be expected to cause substantial harm to the environment by discharging oil into or on the navigable waters or adjoining shoreline are required to prepare and submit a Facility Response Plan (FRP). A facility could, because of its location, reasonably be expected to cause substantial harm if it meets any of the following criteria:

  • the facility transfers oil over water to or from vessels and has a total oil storage capacity greater than or equal to 42,000 gal
  • the facility's total oil storage capacity is greater than or equal to 1 million gal and one of the following is true:
    • the facility does not have secondary containment for each aboveground area sufficiently large to contain the capacity of the largest AST within each storage area plus sufficient freeboard to allow for precipitation,
    • the facility is located at a distance such that discharge from the facility could cause injury to fish and wildlife and sensitive environment,
    • the facility is located at a distance such that a discharge from the facility would shut down a public drinking water intake, or the facility has had a reportable oil spill in an amount greater than or equal to 10,000 gal within the last 5 yr.)

The facility must make a determination as to whether or not a facility "could reasonably be expected to cause substantial harm to the environment by discharging oil into or on the navigable waters or adjoining shoreline" according to the guidance provided in Appendix C of 40 CFR 112. If it has been determined a facility does not meet the substantial harm criteria; a copy of the certification form found in Appendix C of 40 CFR 112 must be completed and maintained at the facility.

A model Facility Response Plan can be found in Appendix F of 40 CFR 112.

The FRP must be updated whenever there is facility change that may materially affect the response to a worst case discharge. A change in the facility's configuration that materially alters the information in the plan include:

  • a change in the type of oil handled, stored, or transferred that materially alters the required response resources,
  • a material change in capabilities of the oil spill removal organizations that provide equipment and personnel to respond to discharges of oil, or
  • a material change in the facility's spill prevention and response equipment or emergency response procedures.

A material change does not include amendments to personnel and telephone numbers.


At a minimum, a SPCC-regulated facility must trains their oil-handling personnel in:

  • the operation and maintenance of equipment to prevent discharges
  • discharge procedure protocols
  • applicable pollution control laws, rules, and regulations
  • general facility operations
  • known discharges or failures or malfunctioning components
  • recently developed precautionary measures
  • the contents of the facility SPCC Plan.

Discharge prevention briefings must be scheduled and conducted for oil-handling personnel at least once a year to assure adequate understanding of the SPCC Plan for that facility.

A FRP-regulated facility is required to develop and implement a facility response training program and a drill/exercise program for those individuals involved in spill response activities. The response training program must include correct instruction on procedures to response to discharges of oil and applicable laws, rules, and regulations. The training will be functional in nature according to job tasks for both supervisory and nonsupervisory operational personnel. In addition to training, there will be a program of facility drills/exercises, including evaluation procedures.

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Regulatory Sources
33 CFR 156
Oil and Hazardous Materials Transfer Operations

40 CFR 112
Oil Pollution Prevention

Frequently Asked Questions about the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Regulation and the Oil Pollution Act (OPA)

40 CFR 280
Technical Standards and Corrective Action Requirements for Owners and Operators of Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)

40 CFR 112
Oil Pollution Prevention

Last Updated: July 05, 2017