On November 10, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has finalized amendments to requirements for facilities subject to the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule. The amendments are intended to clarify regulatory requirements, tailor requirements to particular industry sectors, and streamline certain requirements for a facility owner or operator subject to the rule. The rule changes were originally proposed in October 2007 and finalized on December 5, 2008, but the agency requested public comments again on February 3, 2009. The rule takes effect on January 14, 2010.
For the most part, the EPA is either taking no action or providing minor technical corrections on the majority of the December 2008 provisions. However, this action modifies the December 2008 rule by removing the provisions to: exclude farms and oil production facilities from the loading/unloading rack requirements; exempt produced water containers at an oil production facility; and provide alternative qualified facilities eligibility criteria for an oil production facility.
Additionally, because of the uncertainty surrounding the final amendments to the December 2008 rule and the delay of the effective date, EPA is expected to propose to extend the compliance date.
The November 2009 amended rule also makes changes to rule provisions that: designated a category of facilities that qualify for a streamlined set of compliance requirements, including use of an SPCC plan “template” in place of a full SPCC plan; exempted underground storage tanks that provide diesel fuel for emergency generators at nuclear power plants; and established the compliance date for “new” oil production facilities.
Other provisions of the December 2008 rule will become effective on January 14 without further modification. Among these are:
- Exemptions for hot mixed asphalt (HMA) and HMA containers, pesticide application equipment and related mix containers, and heating oil containers at single-family residences, including those located at farms;
- Amended definition of “facility” to clarify the existing flexibility associated with describing a facility’s boundaries;
- Amended facility diagram requirements to provide additional flexibility;
- New definition of “loading/unloading rack” to clarify the oil transfer equipment subject to the provisions for facility tank car and tank truck loading/unloading racks, as well as amended provisions for this equipment;
- Amended general secondary containment requirements to provide more clarity;
- Exemption of non-transportation-related tank trucks from the sized secondary containment requirements;
- Amended security requirements;
- Amended integrity testing requirements to allow greater flexibility in the use of industry standards;
- Amended definition of “production facility”; and additional requirements specific to oil production facilities.