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January 23, 2007Client Alert

EPA Issues New SPCC Rule

On December 14, 2006, EPA released its final spill prevention and countermeasures (“SPCC”) rule, which revamps various oil spill prevention provisions. EPA’s SPCC program regulates oil storage facilities in an attempt to prevent discharges of various types of oil into U.S. waters. The SPCC regulations cover 581,000 facilities ranging from airports and schools to petroleum bulk storage stations. According to EPA, these rule revisions, which were first proposed in 2002, will save the regulated community $125 million per year. As part of the rule package, EPA also issued a proposal to move the rule’s compliance date back to July 1, 2009.

Among other things, the revisions will allow some facilities to use streamlined certification procedures. As one of many changes, the new rule changes the requirement that a professional engineer must certify the spill plans: it allows facilities that store or handle up to 10,000 gallons of oil to self-certify. For facilities larger than 10,000 gallons, a professional engineer is still required. Importantly, the rule also explicitly exempts automotive and truck fuel tanks from all spill prevention requirements.

As for the farming community, which has many oil storage facilities, the rule indefinitely extends the compliance date for farms until EPA promulgates a farm-specific rule. This does not, however, mean that farms should necessarily expect to be exempt from all SPCC requirements. The rule expressly points out that “it would not be appropriate to issue a blanket suspension of all spill prevention requirements for [farm] owners and operators.” Senator James Inhofe disagreed, stating “I am pleased that EPA will continue its commitment to reform the program for the agricultural community, who in my view should be exempt from the program’s requirements.” Even so, EPA seems primarily interested in regulating farm’s that handle large quantities of oil and plans to work with the Department of Agriculture to review data about farm-related oil handling before issuing its farm rule.

Finally, under the new rule, EPA also removed certain processing requirements for animal fats and vegetable oils production facilities and exempted mobile refuelers from the secondary containment requirements for bulk storage containers.

For further information regarding this or any other EPA rule, do not hesitate to contact David A. Crass at 608.283.2267, or dacrass@michaelbest.com.
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