Several recent developments concerning the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations occurred in December 2005 that may have a major impact on Louisiana facilities. First, the EPA released the long awaited SPCC “Guidance for Regional Inspectors.” The Guidance is intended to assist regional inspectors in reviewing a facility’s implementation of the rule, but will also be beneficial for regulated facilities in determining how particular provisions of the rule may be applied.
EPA is taking comments between now and February 9, 2006 on this Guidance in conjunction with comments on a proposed amendment to the SPCC rules that could potentially reduce the regulatory burden for certain facilities. The Guidance is a “living document” which will be continuously updated and revised. Therefore, EPA will continue to take comments on the Guidance even after the initial 60 days. To comment on the Guidance, e-mail EPA at SPCC.OilSpill@epa.gov. The Guidance can be viewed in its entirety here.
Second, the EPA has proposed to extend the compliance dates for both SPCC plan amendments and for implementation for all regulated facilities to October 31, 2007. Under the current SPCC provisions, regulated facilities in existence on or before August 16, 2002 must prepare or amend their SPCC Plans by February 17, 2006, and fully implement their SPCC Plans by August 18, 2006. For those facilities that came into operation after August 16, 2002, but before August 18, 2006, the facility must prepare and implement an SPCC Plan on or before August 18, 2006. All of these deadlines would be extended to October 31, 2007 under the proposed amendments. Comments for this proposed rule must be received on or before January 11, 2006, a deadline which provides little time for preparation of comments during the holiday season. If the proposed rule is adopted, significant implementation costs will be delayed for more than a year. The proposed rule extending the deadlines can be viewed in its entirety here.
Third, EPA has proposed several additional amendments to the SPCC requirements in a separate rulemaking which reduce the regulatory burden on certain facilities. Comments for this proposed rule must be received on or before February 10, 2006. 70 Fed. Reg. 73523. These proposed amendments would provide relief to certain regulated facilities in the following respects:
1. Providing an option to allow owners/operators of facilities storing less than 10,000 gallons of oil and meeting other qualifying criteria to self-certify their SPCC Plans, in lieu of review and certification by a Professional Engineer;
2. Providing an alternative to the secondary containment requirement, without requiring a determination of impracticability, for facilities that have certain types of oil-filled equipment;
3. Defining and providing an exemption for motive power containers;
4. Exempting airport mobile refuelers from the specifically sized secondary containment requirements for bulk storage containers;
5. Removing or reserving certain SPCC requirements for animal fats and vegetable oils; and
6. Providing separate extensions for compliance dates for farms.
The proposed rule amending the SPCC requirements to reduce the regulatory burden on certain facilities can be viewed in its entirety here.