Regulatory non-compliance has proven to be expensive, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous to company employees and the surrounding communities. As part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Oil Pollution Prevention program, companies may be required to develop, maintain, and submit an approved Facility Response Plan (FRP) and/or a Spill prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan (SPCC).
If government regulations are applicable to operations, companies need to prioritize response plan compliance in order to minimize fines, negative public perceptions, and potential government mandated shutdown of operations. A compliant and exercised response plan can be the foundation to an efficient preparedness program.
By systematically aligning emergency plans and their components with corresponding regulations, companies can identify and amend plan deficiencies. Response plan compliance can be improved by the following:
- Evaluate regulatory applicability across all company operations
- Perform audits or gap analysis of response plans against regulatory requirements
- Identify new planning requirements as regulations evolve
- Maintain up-to-date plans that reflect facility, personnel, or operational changes
- Exercise plans to ensure plan accuracy
- Confirm regulatory response plan submittal requirements
Determining response plan requirements for each facility will determine the site-specific information required by the corresponding regulatory agency. A “substantial harm” facility is a facility that, because of its location, could reasonably be expected to cause substantial harm to the environment by discharging oil into or on navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. These facilities are required to develop, maintain, and submit a facility response plan.
“Certain facilities that store and use oil are required to prepare and submit facility response plans to respond to a worst case discharge of oil and to a substantial threat of such a discharge.” - EPA
In addition to maintaining a site-specific plan, an FRP mandated facility must keep a log of response training drills and exercises, along with plan updates reflecting material changes. Records of inspections of response equipment must be kept for five years. If response-planning requirements under 40 CFR 112.20 are not applicable, a facility must complete the certification form in 40 CFR Part 112 Appendix C Attachment C-II.
According to EPA, key elements of an FRP should include:
- A stand alone Emergency Response Action Plan
- Facility name, type, location, owner and operator information
- Emergency notification, equipment, personnel, and evacuation information
- Identification and evaluation of potential spill hazards and precious spills
- Identification of small, medium and worst case discharge scenarios and response actions.
- Description of discharge detection procedures and equipment
- Detailed implementation plan for containment and disposal
- Facility and response self-inspection, training, exercises and drills, and meeting logs
- Diagrams of facility and surrounding layout, topography, and evacuation paths
- Description of site-security and security equipment
In addition to an FRP, facilities such as oil production facilities, bulk storage terminals, power plants, automotive plants, chemical plants, power plants, transportation centers, laboratories, and compressor stations may be required to submit SPCC plans. SPCC Plans identify prevention practices related to the storage of oil and management of tanks and other storage equipment. SPCC plans can often be confused with oil spill contingency plans, which typically address response measures after a spill has occurred.
Under the Federal Rule 40 CFR 112, facilities that store more than 1,320 gallons of oil or petroleum-based liquids aboveground or more than 42,000 gallons of oil underground s are required to have a SPCC (Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plan). - EPA
Development of a unique SPCC Plan requires detailed knowledge of the facility and the potential effects of any oil spill. While each SPCC plan must be unique to the facility it covers, certain standard elements must be included to ensure regulatory compliance.
Typical elements of an SPCC Plan include:
- Professional Engineer Certification
- Discussion of conformance with federal regulations
- Facility description, plot plan, and contacts
- Potential spill volume and flow rates
- Inspections, tests and record keeping processes
- Personnel training requirements
- Loading/Unloading and transfer details
- Discharge prevention measures
- Security Measures
- Recovered material drainage and disposal methods
- Bulk Storage tanks details
- Secondary containment locations and volumes
- Discharge notification information and procedures
Response plan standardization across a company enterprise allows for a familiar format, a synchronized response, and is the best option for ensuring regulatory compliance across multiple response plans.