The Oil Pollution Act was passed by Congress in 1990 in response to major oil spills. It was enacted to expand oil and hazardous substances spill prevention and preparedness activities, improve response capabilities, and ensure that owners or operators of facilities pay the costs associated with the cleanup and disposal of discharged oil. Under this act, regulated facilities are required to have a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan. SPCC Plans establish spill prevention methods and spill control measures for facilities.
The Ohio State University has a master Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan. Contained within the master plan are SPCC Plans that are specific to four facilities on campus. Each of these facilities meets the definition of a regulated facility. As required by the SPCC Plan, facilities are stocked with proper spill containment and cleanup equipment, monthly inspections of facilities and aboveground storage tanks are completed, and facility employees are trained on the plan annually.
Underground Storage Tanks
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is a federal law that requires the regulation of underground storage tanks (UST’s). The purpose of the law is to prevent the contamination of soil and water from leaking storage tanks. An underground storage tank is considered a tank of combination of tanks connected piping systems that have at least 10 percent (%) of their combined volume beneath the ground. A tank system may include the tank, underground connected piping, ancillary equipment, and any containment system. It should be noted that these regulations apply to any underground storage tanks or piping used to store petroleum or certain hazardous substances. UST’s that store substances considered hazardous under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) are subject to the regulation governing petroleum and must have secondary containment and interstitial monitoring for leak detection. In Ohio, the regulatory responsibility for UST’s has been delegated by the federal EPA to the Ohio Bureau of Commerce’s Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulation (BUSTR). BUSTR, however, does not regulate heating oil tanks used for heating on the premises. These tanks need to be permitted and inspected by local fire departments. OEPA regulates any release from these tanks.
Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC)
The Oil Pollution Prevention regulation promulgated under the authority of the Clean Water Act (CWA) established the requirements for the prevention of, preparedness for, and response to oil discharges at specific non-transportation related facilities. The regulation require facilities that use or store oil to develop and implement Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans to prevent oil from reaching navigable waters and adjoining shorelines, as well as to contain discharges of oil. As part of the SPCC plan, facilities must establish procedures, methods, and equipment requirements to prepare and respond to such releases to the environment.
SPPC regulated facilities by definition are non-transportation related, have above ground oil storage capacity of more than 1,320 gallons or 42,000 gallons in below ground storage tanks on site, and could reasonably be expected to discharge oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines in quantities that may be harmful. According to the Clean Water Act, oil is defined as oil of any kind or any form, which is, not limited to petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, oil refuse, and oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil.