oil spills

February 27, 2017


Follow these tips to save time and money on the next five-year update of your facility’s SPCC Plan.


Are you approaching the required five-year review/plan re-certification for your facility’s Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan? Even if you’ve been through several cycles of performing five-year tune-ups on your SPCC Plan, you can make your next review easier and prepare yourself for future SPCC Plan re-certifications if you follow these five tips.

Start Early
Late renewals are a consistent pain point for many companies. To avoid being late with your next re-certification, start your review six months before your SPCC Plan is due for its 5-year review. If you are conducting the review internally, start by identifying the person who will be doing the review. If you are using a third party, this approach will help you go through the proposal/contracting process, so you are ready to conduct the actual review and complete the re-certification before the Plan expires.

Simplify Data Collection
One of the keys to a compliant SPCC Plan is to collect accurate data in the field about your facility’s oil sources. Streamlined data collection is of particular importance if you have a large facility or your oil storage changes regularly. The key to simplifying data collection is to make sure your reviewer has organized information to evaluate the compliance aspects of each source. Accurate data collection can limit the follow-up required from plan preparers to verify information, as well as minimize the potential for discrepancies. Moreover, particularly useful if a third party is auditing your Plan or if it is in review during an EPA inspection.

Reduce Redundancy with a Summary Table
One way to simplify your Plan is to use an oil source summary table to cover as much information as possible. A table can include each oil source and the aspects of how the oil source is compliant with the SPCC Rule. There may be areas in the Plan where you need to provide additional text discussion regarding oil sources to explain a compliance matter. In general, try to avoid duplicating information within the Plan.

Watch Out for Commonly Overlooked Areas
While secondary containment and overfill protection are key elements to review at each oil source, some reviewers forget to measure the size of containment structures. Dimensions need to be carefully measured in the field to verify and show sufficient secondary containment capacity in your facility’s SPCC Plan.
Another commonly overlooked area is facility drainage; specifically the overland flow in the proximity of each oil source, which is key to determining the potential receptors where spilled product can travel. These receptors could be storm sewers, ditches, wetlands, or waterways. You can discuss the protection of these receptors during your facility’s annual SPCC training. Swift action and concise communication during a spill can help limit your liability.

Use Targeted Annual Training
Many companies struggle to comply with the annual training requirement. One of the tripping points is trying to train all employees who handle oil for example. To avoid this pitfall, implement a tiered training program so you can focus the training content based on an employee’s responsibility level.

Spill recognition and notification through proper internal channels to get a spill cleaned up is an essential message for employees that occasionally handle oil. These employees could also be trained to aid with the initial control and response to a spill. A second tier may include team members who manage the SPCC Plan; they have additional responsibilities such as inspections of oil sources and spill reporting.

By Chris Jimieson, SCS Engineers

Chris Jimieson has over 17 years of experience supporting industrial, commercial, military, federal, state, municipal, and solid waste companies with environmental compliance.  He has extensive experience building and reviewing SPCC and Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) and manages compliance assignments, providing computer-based training modules to meet employer training needs. Contact Chris at or 608-216-7367.

SCS Compliance Services

Posted by Diane Samuels at 3:00 am