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EPA Fines Multiple Companies for SPCC Plan Violations

Posted on Thu, Aug 13, 2015

Multiple California companies are in non-compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulation. The agency recently announced a series of financial penalties totaling more than $140,000 from both large and small facilities.

The SPCC regulation was created under the Clean Water Act to prevent oil from reaching navigable waters and adjoining shorelines, and to contain and respond to discharges of oil. It requires onshore oil storage facilities with identified capacities to develop and implement SPCC plans, identifying established procedures, methods, and equipment requirements to prevent and effectively respond to spills.

Under EPA’s Clean Water Act, facilities with aboveground storage tank capacities exceeding 1,320 gallons or underground tanks with capacities above 42,000 gallons, are required to comply with SPCC regulations.

“All companies who store oil must comply with federal standards. Facilities are required to prevent spills and be prepared to respond to a worst case oil discharge emergency," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Preventing spills and protecting our waterways from oil spills is essential.”

True_cost_of_incidentsWhile it is not possible for EPA to identify and inspect every SPCC facility, owners and operators need to be proactive in developing and maintaining accurate plans. Despite inspection probabilities, companies must prioritize regulatory compliance in order to minimize financial burdens resulting from fines, negative public perceptions, and potential government mandated shutdown of operations. Recent California SPCC violations include:

  • A waste oil recycler facility in Newark, CA was ordered to pay a $90,000 penalty for failing to provide secondary containment around an oil storage area; failing to secure and control access to oil handling, processing and storage areas; failing to use safe containers and good engineering practices, including liquid level alarms to avoid discharges; and failing to develop a complete Facility Response Plan.
  • A vegetable oil terminal operator and packaging facility in Fullerton, CA, was fined $45,000 by failing to update and recertify its spill prevention plan; failing to provide adequate oil containment and drainage controls; failing to ensure that the secondary containment walls of a tank farm could contain spilled oil; and failing to remove accumulations of oil outside tanks and piping, transfer areas and process area collection trenches.
  • A building materials company in Pittsburg, CA was fined $2,775 for failure to provide a proper spill prevention plan, implement tank inspection and integrity testing programs, and provide documentation of employee training.
  • A grease service and disposal service facility in Riverside, CA was fined $2,400 for failure to provide a proper SPCC plan, for storing oil in improper storage containers, and for failing to implement a tank integrity testing program to prevent releases.
  • A food products facility in La Mirada, Calif. was fined $2,250 for failure to provide a proper SPCC plan and have adequate secondary containment for vegetable oil storage tanks.
  • A grease service and disposal facility in Riverside, CA was fined $1,900 for failing to provide a proper SPCC plan, and complete inspection records, The facility also lacked an adequate tank integrity testing program and proper oil drum secondary containment. 

Managing SPCC plans and associated compliance can be achieved through a cohesive, yet site-specific, standardization of best practices. The costs associated with effective emergency management, planning efforts, and overall spill prevention are often much less than the costs associated with fines, spill clean-up, and other civil liabilities. By utilizing available technology, companies can enhance accessibility, portability, and redundancy, and potentially ease communication barriers with responders and regulatory audits.


Tags: SPCC, EPA, Regulatory Compliance

Company FRP and SPCC Compliance within Proposed 2016 EPA Budget

Posted on Thu, Jun 04, 2015

As part of the proposed $8.6 billion Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2016 budget, the agency is allocating $18.5 million for the Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response program. The program aims to protect U.S. environment by effectively preventing, preparing for, responding to, and monitoring oil spills.

According to the EPA’s Budget in Brief, the agency “will perform inspections of regulated high-risk oil facilities to better implement prevention approaches and to bring 60 percent of Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) and Facility Response Plan (FRP) inspected facilities found to be non-compliant during the FY 2010 through FY 2015 inspection cycle into compliance.”

Oil spills can threaten human health, cause severe environmental damage, and create financial loss to businesses and the public. According to the EPA, there are currently over 600,000 SPCC-regulated facilities under the EPA’s jurisdiction, including a subset of roughly 4,300 facilities subject to FRP requirements. Rather than be susceptible to fines, penalties, and negative publicity, companies that are required to comply with SPCC and FRP regulations should ensure response plans are up-to-date and effective. Evaluating company operations and each facility’s site-specific information will determine necessary elements for regulatory compliance and response plan requirements.

Compliance monitoring is comprised of all activities that determine whether regulated entities are in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, permit conditions, and settlement agreements. In coordination with these governances, the EPA’s Compliance Monitoring program’s goal is to determine whether conditions exist that may present imminent and substantial threat to public health or welfare of the United States.

The 2016 proposed budget enables the EPA to have a greater emphasis on emergency preparedness, particularly through the use of unannounced drills and exercises. It is imperative that facilities and responders can effectively implement established response plans according to regulations. In FY 2014, the EPA was able to bring 79% of FRP and 72% of SPCC facilities into compliance due to the development of improved guidance and procedures. The compliance program will continue to focus resources on bringing non-compliant facilities into compliance.

EPA_OIl_Facility_ComplianceSource: EPA (Chart presents data as of end of FY2014. Data represent the percentage of facilities found initially compliant in a particular year and facilities previously found to not be in compliance that were brought into compliance out of the respective sets of facilities inspected. Therefore, the numbers do not total to 100 percent.)

Compliance monitoring activities include data collection, analysis, data quality review, on-site compliance inspections/evaluations, investigations, and reviews of facility records and reports.
The EPA ensures that the management and oversight of the compliance monitoring program is enhanced by the exchange of information from the FRP and SPCC data systems to the EPA’s Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS). This exchange provides the EPA the opportunity to focus compliance monitoring resources on areas of highest risk, and increase transparency to the public of this enforcement, and compliance data. In addition, submitting information into ICIS electronically improves data coverage and quality.

The ability to streamline the regulatory submission process is advantageous for both industry and regulatory agencies. As opposed to paper plans, web-based planning is extremely beneficial for organizations that are subject to multiple applicable regulatory requirements. A web-based planning system with a regulatory tracking element can eliminate redundancies across converging compliance requirements, which maximizes informational consistency and administrative productivity. Many companies have embraced the benefits of streamlined web-based preparedness programs because of cost efficiency, information accessibility, and the ability to verify compliance. By advancing submission practices and raising industry standards, the EPA embraces a higher level of accuracy, availability, and consistency.

As part of the 2016 budget, the EPA states it will finalize the development and begin implementation of the National Oil Database including identifying requirements for electronic submission of Facility Response Plans (FRP) in order to create reporting efficiencies for the agency, states, local government and industry. The ICIS and database will support a more comprehensive analysis and better management of the FRP and SPCC compliance programs.

Note: FRP facilities are currently required to submit their plans to the EPA Regional Offices, while SPCC facilities maintain their plans onsite.

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: Facility Response Plan, SPCC, EPA

Key EPA Required Elements of a Facility Response Plan

Posted on Thu, Dec 04, 2014

As part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Oil Pollution Prevention program, certain facilities that store and transport oil are required to develop, maintain, and submit a  Facility Response Plan (FRP). Maintaining regulatory compliance and an up-to-date FRP is an ongoing process.  As company operations evolve, and equipment and employees change, adjustments need to be incorporated into the FRP to ensure accuracy, compliance, and effective response capabilities.

Facility Response Plan: A detailed plan which must be prepared in accordance with 40 CFR 112.20 by facilities which may cause "substantial harm" to the environment or exclusive economic zone. The plan must contain an emergency response action plan (ERAP) and demonstrate that a facility has the resources to respond to a worst-case scenario discharge.- Oil Pollution Prevention Glossary

FRP development enables an owner or facility operator to develop a response organization capable of responding to an oil spill. The plan development and assessment process initiates the evaluation of:

  • Potential hazards
  • Response resources (i.e., response equipment, trained personnel)
  • Mitigation opportunities and discharge prevention measures
  • Response processes and procedures
  • Local and regional response capabilities

A regulatory compliant FRP should demonstrate that the appropriated response resources are available in a timely manner, thereby reducing impact and severity of an oil spill.

According to the EPA, an FRP must be:

  • Be consistent with the National Contingency Plan and applicable Area Contingency Plans
  • Identify a qualified individual having full authority to implement removal actions, and require immediate communication between that person and the appropriate federal authorities and responders
  • Identify and ensure availability of resources to remove, to the maximum extent practicable, a worst-case discharge
  • Describe training, testing, unannounced drills, and response actions of persons on the vessel or at the facility
  • Be updated periodically
  • Be resubmitted for approval for each significant change


The Environmental Protection Agency EPA’s 33 CFR part 112, Oil Pollution Prevention, describes response procedure requirements for oil discharges of all types, whether the cause is accidental, man-made, natural, or deliberate. While Part 112.21 of the 40 CFR regulation contains requirements for the development and implementation of a facility training program and drill/exercise program, Part 112.20 addresses the FRP requirements, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Notifications: The emergency response action plan portion of the FRP must include an accurate emergency phone list with information for the Qualified Individual, facility response personnel, response organizations, and local responders.
  • Evacuation: The FRP requires detailed evacuation plans for the facility, including primary and secondary evacuation routes, centralized check-in area, and references to community evacuation plans.
  • Vulnerability assessment: The FRP must include a detailed site diagram, hazard evaluation, and vulnerability assessment. The assessment in the FRP examines outcomes and potential effects of an oil spill, such as the shutdown of downstream water intakes.
  • Discharge Planning Scenarios: Site-specific scenarios and response resources must be addressed for small, medium, and worst-case spills. Most spill scenarios would likely be contained in specified areas or by specialized equipment, unlikely to travel off site. However, if the scenario created could potentially result in oil traveling off site, its migration pattern, potential traveling distance, and specifically identified locations should be detailed. A smaller facility may only need to plan for two scenarios or a single scenario if its worst-case discharge falls within one of the specified ranges for small or medium discharges.  The worst case planning quantity shall be the larger of the amounts calculated for each component of the facility. Discharges are categorized by the following volumes:
    • Small discharge: up to 2,100 gallons spilled
    • Medium: 2,100 to 36,000 gallons spilled, or 10% of the largest tank (whichever is less)
    • Worst Case Discharge: Volume of the largest tank over 36,000 gallons

Appendix F of the Oil Pollution Prevention regulation (40 CFR 112) includes a model Facility Response Plan. Key elements include:

  • Emergency Response Action Plan, which serves as both a planning and action document and should be maintained as an easily accessible, stand-alone section of the overall plan
  • Facility information, including its name, type, location, owner, operator information
  • Emergency notification, equipment, personnel, and evacuation information
  • Identification and analysis of potential spill hazards and previous spills
  • Discussion of small, medium, and worst-case discharge scenarios and response actions
  • Description of discharge detection procedures and equipment
  • Detailed implementation plan for response, containment, and disposal
  • Description and records of self-inspections, drills and exercises, and response training
  • Diagrams of facility site plan, drainage, and evacuation plan
  • Security (e.g., fences, lighting, alarms, guards, emergency cut-off valves and locks, etc.)
  • Response plan cover sheet

For a free download on preparing for your next incident, click here or the image below:

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp


Tags: Facility Response Plan, EPA, Regulatory Compliance

SPCC Planning and Regulatory Compliance Inspections

Posted on Thu, Oct 16, 2014

The challenge of managing and ensuring compliance of Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans for multiple facilities can be complex. Detailed government inspections, enforcement mandates, costly non-compliance fines, and negative publicity may result from the lack of implemented, site-specific, and up-to-date plans. By utilizing available technology to manage multiple SPCC plans, companies can verify compliance through a cohesive, yet site-specific, standardization of best practices.

For facilities with aboveground storage tank capacities exceeding 1,320 gallons or underground tanks with capacities above 42,000 gallons, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance requires accurate and up-to-date SPCC plans. A professional engineer must certify SPCC plans if your facilities have more than 10,000 gallons of aboveground oil storage capacity.

Maintaining SPCC compliance requires preparing plans that outline facility-specific spill prevention procedures, associated equipment to prevent spills from occurring, and countermeasures to address the effects of potential oil spills on sensitive environments. For organizations that have many facilities, web-based response planning provides seamless integration of approved enterprise-wide procedures and policies with site-specific, SPCC required information. This optimizes the potential for every location to remain in compliance with SPCC regulations.

Since 1973, the EPA has conducted scheduled or unannounced facility inspections to ensure that facilities identify site-specific practices related to the storage and management of oil and oil tanks, and response procedures in the event of an oil spill. According to the EPA, the SPCC Inspections serve two primary functions:

  1. To ensure that oil storage facilities, refineries, electrical utilities and oil production fields, among other subject industries, are in compliance with 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 112.
  2. To give U.S. Environmental Protection Agency representatives the opportunity to educate owners and operators about the regulations and ways to ensure compliance.


In order to meet SPCC regulatory requirements, every applicable facility in your organization is required to regularly update and maintain SPCC plans per EPA regulation 40 CFR 112.20. The following is an abbreviated checklist of SPCC associated planning elements that EPA representatives may evaluate during facility inspections:

  • Storage tanks and other equipment containing oil
  • Storage tank integrity testing requirements
  • Truck loading/unloading areas
  • Transfer procedures and equipment (including piping)
  • Facility layout and diagram
  • Drainage patterns and oil discharge predictions
  • Secondary containment or diversionary structures and their ability to contain a release of oil
  • Site security measures
  • Operating procedures
  • Personnel training and oil discharge prevention briefings
  • Plan certification (by a Professional Engineer (PE) or in certain cases by the facility owner/operator)
  • Recordkeeping

Since the prevention and countermeasures identified in SPCC plans must be implemented throughout the facility in order to be in compliance with regulations, a copy of your SPCC plans must be available to inspectors for reference at all times. In addition, it is essential to provide inspectors with relevant documentation of all operating and inspection procedures, spill prevention measures, training records and other compliance verification information.

With a comprehensive, web-based, database-driven SPCC plan management system, emergency managers and health, environmental, and safety departments can:

  1. Simplify audits
  2. Easily identify required information
  3. Verify accuracy of plan contents through secured access
  4. Revise information in real-time, as necessary
  5. Identify regulatory compliance gaps
  6. Account for necessary mitigation endeavors
  7. Ease maintenance and administrative efforts
  8. Provide electronic copies of plans to government agencies

Proactive responsive, procedural, and preparedness measures, in conjunction with innovative planning system technologies can maximize compliance efforts and minimize accidents and catastrophes. Transitioning to a web-based system to maintain SPCC plans can enhance accessibility, portability, and redundancy, potentially easing communication barriers with responders and regulatory audits.

For a free download entitled, "The Facility Response Plan and the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plan", click here or the image below:


Tags: SPCC, EPA, Regulatory Compliance, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program

The Facility Response Plan Assessment

Posted on Thu, Aug 07, 2014

As part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Oil Pollution Prevention program, certain facilities that store and use oil are required to develop, maintain, and submit an approved Facility Response Plan (FRP). These plans should address the elements and responses associated with substantial threats and worst case discharges of oil. If the Oil Pollution Act regulations are applicable to a facility, the operating company must prioritize response plan compliance in order to minimize fines, negative public perceptions, and potential government mandated shutdown of operations.

Maintaining a FRP is an ongoing process. As company operations evolve, and equipment and employees change, adjustments need to be incorporated into the FRP to ensure accuracy, compliance, and effective response capabilities. Additionally, the plan submittal processes must be observed and applied in order to eliminate the potential for fines.

This FRP assessment is designed to recognize best practices. Following the set of questions, the scoring section can assist in identifying potential necessary actions that can reduce the risk of non-compliance and/or ineffective responses.

1. Have your personally reviewed your company’s FRP within the past 12 months?

Yes _____ No_____

2. Do your employees have a clear understanding the FRP and their designated responsibilities if a worst-case scenario were to occur?

Yes _____ No_____

3. Have your external responders participated in a comprehensive review of your emergency management system or a response exercise within the last 12 months?

Yes _____ No_____

4. Does your plan identify a Qualified Individual and alternate who has full authority to obligate funds required to carry out necessary response actions and act as liaison with Federal On-Scene Coordinator?

Yes _____ No_____

5. Does your FRP identify a public relations contact or information officer who has knowledge of public affairs policies identified in your company’s FRP?

Yes _____ No_____

6. Were representatives of external resources involved in developing and testing the company’s FRP?

Yes _____ No_____

7. Does your company have adequate documentation  procedures and capabilities to document plan l changes, training, and exercises?

Yes _____ No_____

8. Is your FRP consistent with the National Contingency Plan and any Area Contingency Plan?

Yes _____ No_____

9. Have you spent more than two hours during the past six months in face-to-face discussion with your incident management team about how to improve spill response management?

Yes _____ No_____

10. Are your response procedures brief and organized in a manner that enables your employees or response teams to effectively respond to a range of incidents?

Yes _____ No_____

11. Does your FRP clearly identify discharge detection procedures and equipment?

Yes _____ No_____

12. Are your current mutual aid agreements or external responder contracts current?

Yes _____ No_____

13. Is your incident response team equipped and trained to set up incident command center?

Yes _____ No_____

14. Does your FRP include detailed disposal procedures and contractors?

Yes _____ No_____

15. Does your FRP contain alternates for each Incident Management Team position in the event that the primary contacts are unavailable?

Yes _____ No_____

16.  Do key individuals have secured, immediate access to the most up-to-day FRP without potential “version confusion”?


Self-Assessment Scoring

To assess your emergency management program, give yourself one point for each "yes" and zero points for each “no”. Total your score and grade your risk.

13–16 points: In general, your FRP is well managed. Look back at your "no" answers and decide what you can do to mitigate this area of exposure. Be sure to monitor regulatory requirements and any operational shifts that could alter the effectiveness of your FRP. For a comprehensive understanding of the status of your plan, perform a full FRP audit by qualified in-house experts or experienced consultants.

9-12 points: You are making good progress, but there are a number of actions required to reduce your risk of non-compliance or response inefficiency. You may wish to focus your attention on areas indicated by the "no" answers. Based on the results of reviews in these areas, you can decide what further steps are necessary. An expert evaluation of your current plan with response plan professionals can minimize potential fines and maximize response efficiencies.

5-8 points: Your company may be at risk, but you have taken the first step of mitigation: awareness. This score suggest your emergency management responsibilities are being partially met, but there is significant room for improvement. A response-planning consultant with FRP experience can assist planners with site evaluations, regulatory compliance criteria, mitigation efforts, and plan substantiation.

Fewer than 5 points: Your facility, employees, operations, and reputation are at risk! Prompt action is necessary to ensure a compliant emergency management program. You need to take immediate action for regulatory compliance and to improve the ability to respond effectively to an incident. A comprehensive review of your FRP and preparedness efforts is warranted to reduce your risk.

Helpful hints:

  1. Review FRP’s on a cyclical basis. If turnover is high or operations are rapidly evolving, FRPs should be reviewed quarterly, at a minimum.
  2. Ensure training, drills, and exercises are optimized. Each training event, drill, or exercise presents the opportunity to improve response process responsibility and site-specific response procedure awareness, rendering the potential for a more effective response.
  3. Despite the added strain of publicity during a crisis, engaging with the media should be incorporated into the planning process. Ensure the facility or company has a designated point of contact for media and site personnel. Consistent, accurate messages alleviate public anxiety and provide a level of credibility. The more information that is provided, the less the media will have room for interpretation.
  4. Documentation provides historical records, keeps management informed of site practices, serves as a legal instrument, if necessary, and supports time and maintenance costs.
  5. Consider utilizing a web-based, database driven planning system. A widely accessible emergency response plan can maximize efficiency and minimize impacts of an emergency on employees, the environment, and infrastructure. Incorporating TRP’s enterprise-wide emergency management system can maximize efforts, minimize maintenance costs, and allow for a streamlined and familiar response process.

For free download on facilitating effective oil spill exercises, click on the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises 


Tags: Facility Response Plan, Response Plans, EPA, Oil Spill, Training and Exercises, Facility Management, Workplace Safety

Improving SPCC and Facility Response Plan Compliance

Posted on Mon, Apr 21, 2014

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

TRP Corp - Substantial Harm

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.

Be prepared for your next incident! Click the image below to download your free guide.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Facility Response Plan, SPCC, EPA, Regulatory Compliance, Facility Management

Managing Response Plans for Multiple Regulatory Agencies

Posted on Thu, Mar 20, 2014

The challenge of managing and ensuring compliant response plans for multiple facilities and multiple regulatory agencies is daunting. When audits reveal planning gaps, unless amended, enforcement mandates and costly non-compliance fines may result from the lack of an implemented, thorough, or effective regulatory compliance programs. By utilizing an enterprise-wide template approach to response plans, companies can satisfy multiple regulatory requirements through a cohesive, yet site-specific standardization of best practices.

In order for emergency plans to be timely, effective, and compliant, site-specific facility information and operational hazards must be addressed and included in a template plan. Off-the-shelf, generic response plan templates will not address every aspect required of an emergency plan. Utilizing generic templates often results in incomplete, ineffective, and non-regulatory compliant plans.

If templates are connected to a web-based database, site-specific information can be cross-referenced with regulatory requirements. As facilities are added or modified, operations are revised, or employees are re-assigned, each plan can be conveniently accessed and updated for accuracy and compliance.

The use of a consolidated emergency, or all-hazards response plan can be adapted to comply with multiple regulations. Annexed plans, such as fire pre plans or business continuity plans can be created to provide more specific and comprehensive response procedures. With a comprehensive, web-based response plan template, emergency managers can:

  • Reduce the need for multiple plans for a single facility
  • Minimize administrative costs
  • Simplify plan reviews
  • Minimize discrepancies across various plans
  • Streamline response directives from one source
  • More easily identify regulatory compliance gaps

The planning template must incorporate all local, state and federal regulations. The following questions may assist companies in determining site-specific information requirements for developing an emergency plan template.

1. How will the emergency be reported and response initiated?

  • Create notification procedures. Emergency notifications may include 911, National Response Center, and internal and/or external response teams
  • Identify alarms and how they will be activated.  Specific alarm signals may signal employee evacuation or shelter in place. Test alarms to confirm they are in proper working condition
  • Ensure employees are trained in immediate response actions, as described in plan
  • Identify emergency classification levels to ensure appropriate response actions and resources

2. Who will be in charge of the Incident and who will conduct additional response duties?

  • Create Emergency Management Team organizational chart and activation procedures
  • Create Emergency Management Team roles and responsibilities checklists

3. What threats affect the facility or employees?

  • Perform a detailed hazard and risk analysis
  • Create response procedures for each identified threat
  • Create a process for incident documentation
  • Utilize appropriate ICS Form(s)
4. What incidents or classification level require evacuation/shelter in place
  • Create multiple evacuation routes
  • Determine criteria as to whether evacuation goes beyond facility borders
  • Identify the muster point(s) and head count procedures

5. How are response actions sustained?

  • Identify command post locations and equipment requirements
  • Identify response resources and equipment (both internal and external)
  • Create communications checklist and identify communications equipment available
  • Identify hazard control applicability and methods
  • Detail external communications and public relations policies

6. What is done after the incident is secured?

  • Create checklist for demobilization guidelines
  • Perform a post-incident review and debriefing
  • Identify  “lessons learned”, assign action items, and update response plan accordingly

In 1996, the National Response Team published the Integrated Contingency Plan (ICP) Guidance in an effort to provide companies with the means to comply with multiple federal planning requirements required by various regulatory agencies.  The ICP, based on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS), was intended to be used by companies to prepare emergency response plans for responding to releases of oil and non-radiological hazardous substances.

An industrial facility may use an ICP to incorporate one or more of the following applicable federal regulations:


  • Oil Pollution Prevention Regulation (SPCC and Facility Response Plan Requirements), 40 CFR part 112.7(d) and 112.20-.21
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Contingency Planning Requirements, 40 CFR part 264, Subpart D, 40 CFR part 265, Subpart D, and 40 CFR 279.52.
  • Risk Management Programs Regulation, 40 CFR part 68

Department of the Interior:

  • Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Facility Response Plan Regulation, 30 CFR part 254

Department of Transportation/Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration:

  • PHMSA Pipeline Response Plan Regulation, 49 CFR part194
  • U.S. Coast Guard, Facility Response Plan Regulation, 33 CFR part 154, part F

Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

  • Emergency Action Plan Regulation, 29 CFR 1910.38(a)
  • OSHA's Process Safety Standard, 29 CFR 1910.119
  • OSHA's HAZWOPER Regulation, 29 CFR 1910.120

Facilities may also be subject to state emergency response planning requirements that are not included in the National Response Team ICP Guidance. Facilities are encouraged to coordinate development of their own ICP with relevant state and local agencies to ensure compliance with any additional regulatory requirements.

For a free Audit Preparedness Guide for Industrial Regulatory Compliance, click the image below:

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: USCG, PHMSA, DOT, OSHA, Response Plans, EPA, OPA 90, Regulatory Compliance

How HSE Audits Can Address Gaps in your Regulatory Plans

Posted on Mon, Mar 03, 2014

Regulatory requirements are designed to prevent injuries, releases of hazardous materials, and ensure adequate responses are in place if and when an incident occurs. However, companies often find themselves scrambling to fill identified gaps in processes, procedures, and response plans after a response or audit is completed. If these gaps are left open, companies can face fines, lawsuits, shutdowns, and/or reputational risk.

Fortunately, audits, whether conducted by in-house professionals or experienced consultants, can often reveal the same deficiencies and opportunities for improvement as regulatory agencies. Some companies address response plan gaps only after an incident or audit occurs. With an objective eye, a gap analysis can bolster an overall emergency management program and minimize the potential for an incident, fine, or inadequate response.

Regulatory requirements must be identified in order for gaps to be identified.. In order to maintain consistent compliance, facility managers and company health, safety, and environmental professionals should become familiar with regulations applicable to their area of responsibility and operations. If necessary, outside consults can be utilized to identify all applicable regulations based on company location(s), industry, operations, and hazards.


After an incident or audit, new or unidentified risks or regulatory gaps may be identified that were not previously included in response plans. Upon recognition, every effort should be made for mitigation. However, if the risks cannot be eliminated, new countermeasure processes and procedures must be implemented and response plans adjusted accordingly in order to eliminate potential gaps. If audits identify that applicable regulatory requirements are not met, specific content, and/or processes must be implemented and/or documented to satisfy those requirements.

The following concepts can assist in addressing gaps in regulatory plans:

  • High probability and operational risks should be cross-referenced with potential regulatory requirement(s).
    • Evaluate accident probability for each process, procedure, handled material, and their resulting levels of potential severity if an accident were to occur.
    • The probability and severity of a risk should determine the priority level for correcting the hazard. The higher the probability and severity of risk, the higher the emphasis should be on corrective action.
  • If accidents or incidents occur, isolate, eliminate, or mitigate the root cause, and identify any/all linking regulatory requirements.
    • Response plan documentation should include processes and procedures applicable to the accident or incident. If a gap was identified during the response, amendments must communicated, incorporated into training, and documented in the response plan.
  • If audits reveal regulatory gaps, changes in processes and/or procedures should be made in order to become compliant with regulatory agencies.
    • Process or procedural amendments must communicated, incorporated into training, and documented in the response plan.
    • Implement and document any risk reducing engineering controls
  • Proactive administrative controls or work place practices can reduce the potential of gaps in response plans, training, and/or exercises.
  • Accident prevention signs should be posted to remind occupants of the presence of hazards and applicable regulations
  • Establish and communicate emergency response plan content  to employees and appropriate emergency response team members. Provide a mechanism for workplace process feedback and regulatory implementation.
  • Implement web-based, database driven response plans.
    • Advanced technology allows for an audit “checklist”, specifically linking specific requirements to applicable content within the plan.
    • Provides the ability to duplicate recurring facility information to satisfy multiple agency requirements.
    • Eases the administrative time by easing the ability to update content and ever-changing regulations, minimizing the opportunity for regulatory implementation delays.


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Tags: PHMSA, OSHA HAZWOPER, Facility Response Plan, EPA, Regulatory Compliance, Emergency Management Program

Emergency Preparedness Measures: Can you Afford Non-Compliance?

Posted on Mon, Jan 27, 2014

The increasing number of stringent regulatory compliance standards compounds the complexity of industrial operations. Many companies believe they have the compliance component of their business under control. Others take a reactionary role rather than a proactive approach.  Without a proactive approach, incidents affecting the financial bottom line of companies, their communities, and surrounding environments will continue.

Every month, audits and enforcement mandates are issued from various federal and state agencies that oversee industrial facilities. Agencies such as OSHA, EPA, and DOT’s PHMSA inspect and fine offending companies for non-compliance for a variety of infractions. Costly non-compliance fines continually result from the lack of an implemented, thorough, or effective preparedness planning and regulatory compliance programs.

Associated penalties are continually increasing. In April of 2013, the PHMSA issued a ruling that incorporated new civil penalties. The ruling included:

  • Increasing the maximum fine possible from $55,000 to $75,000, for knowingly violating the law
  • Revising the maximum penalty from $110,000 to $175,000, for knowingly violating the law in a way that results in “death, serious illness, or severe injury” to a person, or which causes substantial destruction of property
  • Eliminating the minimum civil penalty amount, since most fines are well over the previous set minimum of $250. However, a minimum penalty will be retained for training violations, now to be set at $450.

Below is a sampling of the price of non-compliance. The list is comprised of a wide array of companies from various regulatory agencies (dates are by citation, not occurrence).

January 2013

EPA: A cold storage and ice manufacturing company was ordered to pay penalties of $225,000 for violating federal Clean Air Act requirements meant to prevent chemical releases. The company failed to implement the required Risk Management Plan relating to the use of ammonia at a number of its facilities.

February 2013

OSHA: A railway company was ordered to pay $1,121,099 for violating the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act.

March 2013

EPA and Hawaii State Department of Health: A ship repair and dry dock facility on Oahu was fined $710,000 in civil penalties for water pollution control violations. This was the largest Clean Water Act civil penalty against a ship repair facility nationwide.

April 2013

PHMSA: A compliance order and civil penalty of $104,800 was assessed to a pipeline holding company for failure to comply with pipeline safety regulations. The violations pertained to inadequate firefighting equipment and improper inspection and testing record keeping.

PHMSA: After a two-year investigation, a fine of $1.7million was proposed as a result of failing to implement measures to address known seasonal flooding risks to a pipeline system. Additionally, the company failed to establish written procedures to protect the pipeline from floods and other natural disasters, which would have minimized the volume of oil released.

May 2013

OSHA: A company that manufactures wood shavings for animal bedding was assessed $233,870 in proposed fines. Violations included 28 repeat and serious violations of the workplace safety and health standards.

June 2013

PHMSA: Proposed and collected a civil fine of $235,600 with a pipeline company that neglected to implement response plans, emergency shutdown processes, and inspections regarding the facility compressor station.

August 2013

OSHA:  An Ohio steel manufacturing plant’s compliance 24 violations added up to fines totaling $1,138,500. Fifteen of the non-compliance aspects included willful violations of OSHA’s fall protection standards

September 2013

EPA: A refinery’s parent company was issued a $8.75 million penalty for failing to comply with a 2007 settlement that resolved violations of the Clean Air Act. Between 2007 and 2011, the company violated numerous requirements of the initial settlement, including failing to comply with emissions limits. The company also failed to perform corrective actions or to analyze the cause of over 70 incidents involving emissions of hazardous gases through flaring.

October 2013

PHMSA: A pipeline company was assessed a $20,000 fine for failing to present written documentation of public awareness (as recommended by the American Petroleum Institute), and failing to providing baseline material to emergency responders or excavators.

November 2013

OSHA: An Arkansas-based meat processor was issued a total of $121,720 in proposed fines for violations at various sites. The inspection, which began on May 15, 2013, was conducted under OSHA's Site Specific Targeting Program, which directs enforcement resources to high-hazard workplaces with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses. OSHA found a cross section of mechanical, electrical and fall hazards, as well as several deficiencies in the process safety management program. The hazards include failing to guard skylights and roof hatchway, guard a press, provide safety-related work practices to prevent electric shock and arc flash burns, and provide workers with protective equipment when using energized equipment. 

December 2013

EPA: A paint manufacturer was penalized $153,917 for violating federal hazardous waste laws. Violations included failure to properly identify hazardous wastes, failure to properly label and store hazardous waste containers, and failure to train personnel who manage hazardous waste.

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TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

Tags: DOT, OSHA, Emergency Preparedness, EPA, Regulatory Compliance, Emergency Management Program

Don't Get Caught Non-Compliant: Top Tips for Regulatory Compliance

Posted on Thu, Jan 23, 2014

In early January, a chemical leak from a Freedom Industries storage facility caused West Virginia American Water to shut off the water supply to nearly 300,000 people. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection identified five violations which will likely result in substantial fines. In addition, criminal penalties may be pursued.

As demonstrated month after month, compliance is a requirement, not an option.  Some argue that the bureaucracy is riddled with inefficiencies. However, the “rules” are aimed to protect communities and the surrounding environment.  According to David Hall’s Wall Street Journal article, The Morning Ledger: Companies Beef Up Compliance Departments, “Hefty fines and other penalties have jolted companies, especially banks, into a compliance hiring spree, as governments at home and abroad tighten business laws and regulations and ramp up their enforcement activity.” Compliance costs are typically lower than the expenditures associated with non-compliance fines, litigation, reputational risk, and government mandated shutdown of operations. Companies must implement a budget that ensures regulatory compliance.

Managing regulatory compliance for industrial facilities can be a daunting task. Industrial facilities must operate profitably; yet comply with a complex array of federal, state and local regulations.  The consequences of disregarding the various required elements can be corporate self-destruction.

Key concepts for managing regulatory compliance from a corporate perspective include, but are not limited to:

Database Technology

Technology is a useful, and relatively inexpensive tool that enables companies to monitor continually evolving regulatory requirements. In recent history, companies have utilized Excel spreadsheets to manage requirements. However, as a company expands or new regulations are implemented, spreadsheets can become overwhelming, ineffective, and time consuming. Larger operations should consider utilizing database technology to ensure that compliance can be effectively managed on an enterprise-wide level. Utilizing a database limits the duplication of tasks generated when multiple agencies have regulations that are related to the same subject matter.

Available Expertise

Internal resources or outsourced compliance expertise can enable a company to leverage regulatory knowledge enterprise-wide. In order to focus on core business components and reduce managerial and administration efforts required to manage compliance, companies can examine utilizing consultants to ensure appropriate response planning and compliance measures.

Facility-Specific Regulations

A company must recognize mandatory submission requirements and tasks for each facility associated with each regulatory requirement. The implementation of a tracking management system that can eliminate redundancies across converging compliance requirements is extremely beneficial for organizations that have multiple applicable regulatory requirements.

A methodological tracking system should itemize applicable federal, state, and local regulations, and include categorical information that satisfies that regulation. A tracking system should, at a minimum contain the following components: 

  • Operational categories: Categories can range from air quality and hazardous materials, to construction safety and general safety and health. Depending on the detail required by the regulations, further breakouts by subcategories may also be required.
  • Applicable Regulation Level:  Regulations should be further broken down to Federal, state or local regulation categories.  
  • Time/Date Stamping: The Time and Date that each regulation was last updated.
  • Compliance Feedback:  Applicable notes regarding compliance or non-compliance.
  • Industry Standard:  Apply best practices related to compliance with specific regulatory requirements, when practical to do so.
  • Cross-reference: Itemize list of additional regulations that may be applicable to the information provided.
  • Facility Compliance responsibility: Identify contact assigned to maintain compliance for each regulatory requirement.
  • Action Item Reporting: Provides a list of outstanding and completed action items, along with due dates and person(s) assigned. Reports should have filters to customize queries as required by the users.
  • Search Functionality - Create the ability to search database for key words and phrases associated with regulations.

One of the most important aspects of maintaining compliance is ensuring that required response plan and associated revisions are submitted to the proper regulatory agencies in a timely manner. The various agencies have different submission requirements regarding initial and plan revision compliance.

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Tags: DHS, DOT, OSHA, CFATS, Response Plans, EPA, Regulatory Compliance