On September 11, 2013, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published its revised Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Guidance for Regional Inspectors, which is directed not only to EPA inspectors, but also to owners and operators of facilities subject to the SPCC requirements.  The Clean Water Act guidance is designed to “facilitate nationally consistent implementation of the SPCC rule.”  EPA 550-B-13-001.

The guidance is very useful, and surprisingly comprehensive; it includes detailed discussions of the following major SPCC issues:

SPCC Rule Applicability;

  • Environmental Equivalence;
  • Secondary Containment;
  • Impracticability Determinations;
  • Oil Water Separators;
  • Facility Diagram and Descriptions;
  • Inspections, Evaluations and Testing.

In addition to the guidance topics listed above, the guidance conveniently includes the entire text of Clean Water Act, §311(j)(1)(c) SPCC requirements, as well as the implementing regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations, including 40 CFR Parts 109, 110 and 112.

Additional features of the guidance are samples of storage facility plans, production facility plans, and contingency plans.  While all aspects of the guidance  should be applauded for their utility, for regulated facilities, environmental consultants and environmental attorneys, the most useful part of the guidance is the inclusion of EPA’s SPCC Inspection Checklist which will be followed by inspectors in the course of compliance inspections at SPCC regulated facilities.  For regulated facilities, this Checklist can be used as a roadmap for compliance, and will be an effective tool in compliance auditing.

While EPA has published the guidance on its website, it has cautioned that the guidance is a “living document” and may be revised; EPA also encourages comments on the guidance from the regulated community.  To facilitate use of the guidance and to further the utility of the guidance, EPA is conducting webinars which are available not only to EPA employees, but to all SPCC stakeholders.  The sessions are approximately 90 minutes long, and the schedule of the webinars (which are to be conducted September 12, 18 and 19) and time periods on those dates, can be found at http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/spcc/spcc_guidance_webinars.htm.  EPA warns that registration is required for the webinars, and anticipates they will be popular and may result in the need for a “waiting list,” so early registration is important.