Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC)
Regional 8 Preparedness Unit Information
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Section 311(j)(1)(C) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires the President to issue regulations to prevent the discharge of oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines from vessels and facilities and to contain such discharges. By executive order, the President delegated the authority to regulate non-transportation related onshore facilities to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and transportation-related facilities to the Department of Transportation (DOT). The EPA and DOT are required to develop and enforce regulations establishing procedures, methods, equipment, and other requirements to prevent discharges of oil and to contain such discharges.
Subsequently, the EPA Oil Pollution Prevention regulation was published and became effective in January, 1974. The regulation requires that non-transportation-related facilities subject to the regulation develop and implement oil spill prevention, control, and countermeasures, or SPCC Plans. Unlike oil spill contingency plans that typically address spill cleanup measures after a spill has occurred, SPCC plans ensure that facilities put in place containment and other counter measures that would prevent oil spills that could reach navigable waters.
To ensure that facilities comply with the spill prevention regulations, EPA periodically conducts on-site facility inspections. The SPCC Plan must be available to EPA for on-site review and inspection during normal working hours. EPA Regional Administrators review this information and may require the facility owner or operator to amend the SPCC Plan if it does not meet the regulations or if an amendment is necessary to prevent and contain oil spills from the facility. The inspections help to ensure that oil storage facilities comply with the regulations and also give EPA personnel the opportunity to educate owners and operators about the regulation and methods for ensuring compliance.
In addition to facility inspections, EPA conducts outreach activities directed at industry, other government agencies, and the general public to promote awareness of the regulation and how to comply with it. Technical and compliance assistance is provided by EPA in all six of the Region 8 states regarding statutory and regulatory provisions as well as Agency policy and regulation interpretation.