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Proposed Changes to the NPDES General Permitting Requirements

Posted on Mon, Nov 04, 2013

On September 27, 2013, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requested public comments regarding proposed changes in the 2013 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit for storm water discharges from industrial activity.  Once finalized, the new permit will replace the 2008 document, which was issued for a five-year term on September 29, 2008.

According to the EPA, the NPDES general permit, also referred to as the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP), covers multiple facilities with common discharges within a specific geographic area. A general permit applies the same or similar conditions to all dischargers covered under the general permit. The EPA issues these permits for storm water discharges associated with industrial activity, under the NPDES program (as defined in 40 CFR 122.21 and 40 CFR 122.26).

Four states (Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Mexico), Indian lands, and several territories do not have their own federally approved storm water permitting programs.  Within these areas, entities that are subject to industrial storm water discharge regulations are required to apply to the EPA to obtain coverage under the MSGP. Due to the delay to allow for comments, the 2008 MSGP has been administratively continued in accordance with 40 CFR 122.6, and will remain in effect until the new draft permit is finalized. EPA estimates that the new MSGP will be reissued in the spring of 2014.

The MSGP covers 29 different industrial sectors with specific and varying compliance requirements. As written, the draft MSGP includes several new or modified requirements from the 2008 MSGP. The EPA proposes the following:

  • The EPA will perform Environmental Assessments (EA) for dischargers subject to any New Source Performance Standards (NSPS). The EA will consider the potential environmental impacts from the discharge of pollutants in storm water discharges from new sources associated with industrial facilities, where EPA is the permitting authority, to determine whether to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
  • The EPA will require electronic submission of numerous reporting documents including each notice of intent, notice of termination, discharge monitoring reports, annual reports, and all monitoring data, unless a waiver is granted. Waivers would be granted for a one-time use for single information submittal.
  • The EPA will prohibit the discharge of pavement wash waters directly to any surface water or storm drain inlet, unless the facility has implemented control measures or subjected the wastewater runoff to dry clean-up techniques prior to discharge.
  • The EPA will require that each permit holder make a copy of its Storm water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) publicly available, either by identifying a URL link on the notice of intent (“NOI”) that is filed with EPA to apply for the permit, and then posting the SWPPP on the internet, or by providing storm water management information in the NOI itself. The information required includes a detailed description of:
    • The onsite industrial activities exposed to storm water, including potential spill and leak areas
    • The pollutants associated with each industrial activity exposed to storm water and/or authorized non-storm water
    • The control measures employed to comply with the non-numeric technology-based effluent limits
    • Additional measures taken to comply with requirements in Part 2.2
    • The good housekeeping, maintenance, and inspections schedules
  • The proposed permit clarifies effluent limits to include a greater level of specificity in order to make the requirements more clearly articulated, transparent, and enforceable. These clarifications include requirements for minimizing exposure, good housekeeping, maintenance, spill prevention and response procedures, and employee training.
  • The proposed permit modifies specificity of corrective actions, including the necessary actions to be implemented prior to deadlines. The draft permit would require that corrective action steps be taken immediately (i.e., on the same day the condition was found) in order to ensure that pollutant discharges are minimized and that a permanent solution is implemented expeditiously. The draft MSGP also requires that subsequent action must be taken to install a new or modified control and make operational, or complete the repair, before the next storm event if possible, and within 14 calendar days from the discovery of the condition.
  • The EPA will require that all annual reports submitted under the new MSGP include a summary of the routine inspections and assessments conducted at the facility throughout the previous year.
  • The proposed permit clarifies that one is considered a discharger to impaired water if the discharge flows directly to the water, including if the discharge enters a storm water collection system that discharges to impaired water.
  • The EPA proposal clarifies language associated with the conduct of corrective actions. These actions are currently required under a limited set of circumstances.  The proposed permit expands the conditions under which corrective actions will be required and imposes specific deadlines for completing these actions, including immediate actions on the day of discovery to address conditions that require corrective action.

Those subject to the 2008 MSGP should carefully review the proposed requirements, as well as the sector-specific requirements that apply to their industry to ensure comprehension of the changes. Formal comments on the proposed draft will be accepted through November 26, 2013.

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Tags: NPDES, SWPPP, EPA, Regulatory Compliance, Facility Management, Flood Preparedness

PREP for Corporate Regulatory Compliance

Posted on Mon, Oct 07, 2013

Industry-specific regulations often require response exercises for compliance. The National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) is designed to facilitate the periodic testing of oil spill response plans for certain vessels and facilities, and provide companies an economically feasible mechanism for exercise compliance.

This unified federal effort provides a consistent set of guidelines that satisfies the exercise requirements of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) , and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSSE). Completion and documentation of the PREP exercises satisfies all OPA 90 mandated federal oil pollution response exercise requirements.

Exercises must be designed to test responder competencies, and response plan components for effectiveness and accuracy.  In preparation for these exercises, companies should develop exercise-planning documents and participant packages that contain exercise objectives, scenarios, ground rules, and in some cases, simulated injects. Through exercises, responders gain an understanding of the site-specific Emergency Response Plan framework. Exercises provide a mechanism to test participants’ knowledge and understanding of how to mobilize an appropriate response, execute communications and decision-making processes, and effectively manage a worst-case spill response. Effectively planned and executed exercises typically result in improved communication and multi-agency response capabilities in the event of an actual spill.

Common exercise objectives include, but are not limited to:

  • Practice application of National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS)
  • Improve understanding of the Emergency Response Team and Incident Management Team organizations.
  • Improve understanding of the internal and external response capabilities, associated responsibilities, and expectations of the company.
  • Practice documenting and communicating response actions, management decision, and tracking of resources, using standardized Incident Command System (ICS) forms and the Oil Spill Response Plan.
The following 15 PREP components must be exercised during a three years period  in order to fulfill PREP requirements:


1. Notifications: Test the notification procedures identified in the Area Contingency Plan (ACP) and the Spill Response Plan.

2. Staff mobilization: Demonstrate the ability to assemble the spill response organization identified in the ACP and the Spill Response Plan.

3. Operate within response management system. Including:

  • Unified Command: Demonstrate the ability of the spill response organization to work within a unified command.
  • Response management system: Demonstrate the ability of the response organization to operate within the framework of the response management system identified in their respective plans.

Operational Response

4. Source control: Demonstrate the ability of the spill response organization to control and stop the discharge at the source.

5. Assessment: Demonstrate the ability of the spill response organization to provide initial assessment of the discharge and provide continuing assessments of the effectiveness of the tactical operations.

6. Containment: Demonstrate the ability of the spill response organization to contain the discharge at the source or in various locations for recovery operations.

7. Recovery: Demonstrate the ability of the spill response organization to recover, mitigate, and remove the discharged product (includes mitigation and removal activities).

8. Protection: Demonstrate the ability of the spill response organization to protect the environmentally and economically sensitive areas identified in the ACP and the respective industry response plan.

9. Disposal: Demonstrate the ability of the spill response organization to dispose of the recovered material and contaminated debris.

Response Support

10. Communications: Demonstrate the ability to establish an effective communications system for the spill response organization.

11. Transportation: Demonstrate the ability to establish effective multi-mode transportation both for execution of the discharge and support functions.

12. Personnel support: Demonstrate the ability to provide the necessary logistical support of all personnel associated with response.

13. Equipment maintenance and support: Demonstrate the ability to maintain and support all equipment associated with the response.

14. Procurement: Demonstrate the ability to establish an effective procurement system.

15. Documentation: Demonstrate the ability of the spill response organization to document all operational and support aspects of the response and provide detailed records of decisions and actions taken.

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Tags: USCG, PHMSA, EPA, Training and Exercises, Safety

Regulatory Compliance Modernization = Advanced HSE Planning Practices

Posted on Thu, Sep 05, 2013

In July 2013, the EPA proposed a regulation that would require electronic reporting for current paper-based NPDES reports. According to the Federal Register filing, the EPA believes this action will save time and resources for permittees, states, tribes, territories, and the EPA while improving compliance and providing better protection of US waters.

The EPA stated that the advancement would allow “better allocation and use of limited program resources and enhance transparency and public accountability by providing regulatory agencies and the public with more timely, complete, accurate, and nationally-consistent sets of data about the NPDES program and potential sources of water pollution.

Because of a technological-driven culture, the concept of utilizing technology for preparedness planning continues to expand. Companies have been embracing the benefits of streamlined web-based preparedness programs because of cost efficiency, consistency, information accessibility, and the ability to maximize administrative productivity. By advancing submission practices and raising standards, the EPA embraces a higher level of accuracy, availability, and consistency.

The most widely applicable regulations are those under the realm of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While the proposal to require electronic filing and reporting would, at completion of the ruling, affect NPDES-permitted facilities only, the concept could be repeated for other EPA required submissions. In the future, other agencies could adopt similar practices.  Below are a few of the EPA requirements that may be applicable to industrial companies:

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) - Permitting program designed to control water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters.

Facility Response Plan (FRP) - Requires an owner or operator of a facility that could reasonably be expected to cause substantial harm to the environment by discharging oil into or on the navigable waters or adjoining shorelines to prepare and submit a facility response plan.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) - The primary governing law that oversees the generation and containment of solid and hazardous waste.

Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plans (SPCC) – Requires developing site specific plans for oil storage facilities that describe spill prevention and response procedures.

Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know (EPCRA) - Establishes requirements for federal, state and local governments, Indian tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and "Community Right-to-Know" reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals to enable a more effective emergency response planning process.

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 must submit multiple applicable regulatory requirements. This is especially true when companies have facilities that cross county and state borders.  Despite operating within the same industry, each site may need to comply with specific local, state, and/or federal EPA regulatory mandates. Implementing a web-based planning system with a regulatory tracking element can eliminate redundancies across converging compliance requirements.

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

  • Operational Category: 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.  
  • Update History: Date that each regulation was last updated.
  • Compliance Task:  Tasks that needs to be completed for compliance.
  • Compliance Feedback:  Applicable notes.
  • Industry Standard:  Industry standards or best practices that apply to the specific -regulatory requirement.
  • Cross-reference: Itemize list of additional regulations that may be applicable to the information provided.
  • Facility Compliance Responsibility: Person(s) responsible to maintain compliance for each regulatory requirement.
  • Action Item Reporting: Provides a list of outstanding and completed action items, along with due dates and persons assigned. Reports should have filters to customize queries as required by the users.  

Implementing a regulatory tracking management system can eliminate redundancies across converging compliance specifications. Using this database technology allows association of each regulatory requirement to applicable facilities. Additionally, updating evolving regulatory information can be effectively managed across multiple facilities with the use of a database. With required response plans in an easy to use electronic format, companies can easily adhere to new, and future, regulatory submission policies.

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Tags: Response Plans, EPA, Regulatory Compliance, Facility Management, Emergency Response Planning, National Preparedness

Industrial SPCC Plans Accessible in Cloud Technology

Posted on Thu, Feb 07, 2013

As web-based technologies become more accessible and mobile, different options for hosting and managing response plans have evolved. Transitioning to a web-based cloud system to maintain your Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans can enhance accessibility, portability, and redundancy, potentially easing communication barriers with responders and regulatory audits.

Environmental, health, and safety (EHS) managers responsible for maintaining regulatory compliance for multiple sites may benefit from web-based cloud computing for emergency management. While cloud technology isn’t a new concept, a recent survey conducted by IT industry association CompTIA, found that more than 80% of companies use or have transitioned to some form of cloud technology. The survey revealed that costs, increased flexibility, and newly available resources are the main motivation for moving to a cloud.  The costs associated with effective emergency management, planning efforts, and overall spill prevention are often much less than the costs associated with spill clean up, fines, and other civil liabilities.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that approximately 640,000 U.S. facilities are potentially subject to regulations under the SPCC Rule:

A facility that stores, processes, refines, uses or consumes oil and is non-transportation-related is potentially subject to the SPCC rule. The EPA requires SPCC plans for facilities that could discharge oil into navigable water and store more than 1,320 gallons aboveground or more than 42,000 gallons underground.

EHS managers responsible for maintaining SPCC compliance can maximize department efforts and communication. With budgets restraints and increasing workloads, reducing plan maintenance costs, improving communication methods, and minimizing preparedness disparities is critical. Word documents, PDF files, and printed binders are burdensome, administratively time-consuming, and possibly inaccurate or non-compliant.

Here are some questions to determine if web-based cloud technology SPCC plan system is right for your company?

  1. Do you have multiple facilities that are governed by SPCC and/or other regulatory requirements?
  2. Is there repetitive company information in multiple response plans?
  3. When was your last SPCC or facility response plan (FRP) audit and would you be ready if an auditor appeared tomorrow?
  4. Does your company already utilize cloud-based technology?
  5. How effectively do you handle contact information updates and verification? How often does this occur?
  6. How often do you print updated plan copies for distribution, and what costs are involved?
  7. How audit-friendly are your plans?
  8. How many individuals have access to your plans and are authorized to make updates?
  9. Are your plans updated quarterly or annually?
  10. How are new regulatory requirements incorporated into plans?
  11. How much time is dedicated to maintaining and updating your plans?
  12. Do you have a record of changes and revisions?

But with a cloud system, redundancy and back up efforts are essential.  In the event Internet connectivity is terminated or inaccessible, emergency managers must have alternative means to access plans. Redundant data centers, scheduled downloads, and security measures must be a part of any emergency management program based on an intranet or cloud.

Response plans housed in cloud technology also has numerous benefits. When employees are equipped with Wi-Fi enabled devices, authorized users can access response plans information from any location. This can aid in response measures if the incident is isolated to a particular location. SPCC plans can also be readily shared with other company locations and external responders who can relay important detailed facility information to those onsite. Additionally, dedicated administrative time associated with plan maintenance, updating, access, and regulatory submission can be minimized.  

The following EPA list highlights some important elements of an SPCC Plan:

  • Facility diagram and description of the facility
  • Oil discharge predictions
  • Appropriate secondary containment or diversionary structures
  • Facility drainage
  • Site security
  • Facility inspections
  • Requirements for bulk storage containers including inspections, overfill, and integrity testing requirements
  • Transfer procedures and equipment (including piping)
  • Requirements for qualified oil-filled operational equipment
  • Loading/unloading rack requirements and procedures for tank cars and tank trucks
  • Brittle fracture evaluations for aboveground field constructed containers
  • Personnel training and oil discharge prevention briefings
  • Recordkeeping requirements
  • Five-year Plan review
  • Management approval
  • Plan certification (by a Professional Engineer (PE) or in certain cases by the facility owner/operator)

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: SPCC, EPA, Redundant Systems, Cloud Computing

Regulatory Compliance Management and the Price of Non-Compliance

Posted on Thu, Oct 25, 2012

The increasing number of stringent regulatory compliance standards compounds the complexity of industrial operations. Most companies believe they have the regulatory compliance component of their business under control. However, agencies such as OSHA, EPA, and DOT, continue to inspect and fine companies for non-compliance for a variety of infractions. 

A bill put forth to Congress entitled “Providing Assistance with the Paperwork from Excessive Regulations Act of 2012” was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Small Business. While the bill is aimed at small businesses, the title highlights the “excessive” number of regulations that may be applicable to one facility. 

If government regulations are applicable to operations, companies need to prioritize compliance in order to minimize financial burdens resulting from fines, negative public perceptions, and potential government mandated shutdown of operations. Every month, audits and enforcement mandates are issued from various federal and state agencies that oversee industrial facilities. Costly non-compliance fines continually result from the lack of an implemented, thorough, or effective regulatory compliance programs.

Below are examples of the price of non-compliance for the first eight months of 2012. The list is comprised of a wide array of companies from various regulatory agencies (dates are by citation, not occurrence).


  • EPA: Collected a penalty of $25,347 from an oil company in Pennsylvania for alleged violations of oil spill prevention regulations at an oil storage facility
  • OSHA: Proposed penalties of $148,000 in fines to a chemical company in Nebraska for 25 safety violations, 14 of which relate directly to OSHA's standard regulating the process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals.


  • DOT: The U.S. Department of Transportation announced it has resolved a record number of enforcement cases against pipeline operators over the last three years
  • OSHA: Cited chemical company $ 139,000 for eight repeat and 13 serious safety and health violations at its Delaware facility. Proposed penalties resulted from an inspection that was initiated as part of OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting Program for industries with high injury and illness rates.


  • EPA: Handed down a $1.2 million civil penalty to a power company for significant violations of the Clean Water Act, Chemical Bulk Storage Regulations, and Navigation Laws. A transformer explosion resulted in thousands of gallons of petroleum entering New York’s Hudson River.


  • OSHA: Cited an Atlanta based company for three repeat, three serious, and two other-than-serious safety and health violations at one of its plastics manufacturing facility. The proposed penalties totaled $71,000.
  • PHMSA: A fine of $251,170 was given to an energy company for serious violations regarding a pump/compressor related equipment failure.


  • EPA:  An Oregon chemical manufacturer failed to report the use of toxic chemicals at its facility. The violation of the Community Right-To-Know laws resulted in a penalty of $58,200.
  • EPA: According to a consent agreement, a frozen foods company will pay over $84,000 to settle hazardous chemical reporting violations at one of its facility.


  • OSHA: Penalties totaling $199,800 were presented to a vinyl manufacturer for a total of 30 safety and health violations; including three repeat violations for failing to properly ground electrical equipment and a lack of machine guarding.
  • EPA: A TSCA complaint resulted in a proposed penalty of $202,779. The complaint alleged that that the company had violated the 2006 IUR rule for 13 chemical substances.


  • USCG:  Charged an international shipping company $1 million in criminal fines, served probationary status, and required to pay $300,000 to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries after the Coast Guard inspection revealed undocumented internal transfers and discharges of oily waste into the ocean.
  • PHMSA:  Proposed a record $3,699,200 in fines to one company. The agency listed 24 violations of hazardous liquid pipeline regulations, including failure to fix corrosion problems in the damaged pipe joint discovered 10 years prior.


  • PHMSA: Violations of federal pipeline safety regulations resulted in fines totaling more than $2.4 million for one company. Two employees were killed when pipeline repairs caused leaking crude oil to ignite.
  • EPA:  Fined an oil company $15,052 for failing to maintain and fully implement an oil spill prevention plan (SPCC). Negligence contributed to a release of approximately 1,500 gallons of used motor oil from a tanker truck at one facility. As part of the agreement, the company will spend $10,575 to upgrade equipment.


  • OSHA:  Cited a chemical company for 14 safety and health violations following an inspection. The company faces proposed penalties of $104,000

Effective technology can be inexpensively utilized to monitor continually evolving regulatory requirements. While some companies may use Excel spreadsheets to manage these requirements, this approach is typically burdensome and ineffective. As companies grow and operations grow, spreadsheets can be overwhelming and time consuming. Operators should consider utilizing database technology to ensure enterprise-wide compliance on multiple government agency fronts.

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

  • Database Technology -
    • Each applicable regulatory requirement can be hyperlinked to associated site-specific information for each facility.
    • A database will minimize task repetition generated when multiple agencies have regulations that are related to the same subject matter.
    • Updating evolving regulatory information can be effectively managed across multiple facilities with the use of a central database.
    • The ability to search a database for key words and phrases associated with regulations will minimize maintenance time.
  • Compliance Consultations - Identify and utilize corporate resources or outsource compliance expertise to minimize the uncertainty of evolving regulations.
  • Facility-Specific Regulations - Identify mandatory operational and submission requirements for each facility associated with each regulatory agency.
  • Tasking - Assign compliance tasks, frequencies, due dates, persons responsible, and document completion actions.
  • Identify Best Practices - Apply best practices and potential mitigation measures related to compliance.

Regulatory non-compliance has proven to be expensive, time consuming, and potentially dangerous to company employees and the surrounding communities. An effective compliance management process can result in an efficient and integrated program that optimizes the efforts of company stakeholders, and improves compliance.


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Tags: USCG, PHMSA, OSHA, EPA, Regulatory Compliance, FEMA

30 Questions Oil Spill Response Plans Should Reveal

Posted on Thu, Oct 18, 2012

Oil spill response planning should provide site-specific details to enhance oil spill response plans and incorporate a response perspective with specific short-term and long term actions and procedures. If properly planned, exercised, and executed in a timely and effective manner, oil spill response plans can protect lives, communities, and the environment and limit the financial burdens associated with an oil spill. 

The primary objectives of oil spill response plans are to:

  • Allow response personnel to prepare for and safely respond to spill incidents
  • Ensure an effective and efficient response despite geographical challenges
  • Identify potential equipment, manpower, and other resources necessary to implement a spill response
  • Outline response procedures and techniques for combating the spill at a specific location
  • Improve regulatory compliance efforts

While oil spill response plans are necessary to satisfy applicable regulatory requirements, different regulatory agency require specific plans depending the facility’s operations (oil producing, storage, or transport) and location. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is responsible for oil spill planning, preparedness, and other select response activities for facilities located seaward of the coastline.  Oil Spill Response Plans” (OSRP) are necessary to satisfy BSEE regulatory requirements for facilities in this geographic area.

“Facility Response Plans” are required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for certain oil storage facilities that store and use oil that could reasonably be expected to cause substantial harm to the environment by discharging oil into or on navigable waters. EPA regulated facilities must submit plans that reveal details of policies and procedures to respond to a substantial threat of a discharge and a worst-case discharge. The EPA may also require ‘Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure” (SPCC) plans and “Contingency Plans” depending on site location and quantity of oil at the site.

According to the EPA, a regional administrator may consider additional factors to determine if facility response plans are required. Those factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Type of transfer operations
  • Oil storage capacity
  • Lack of secondary containment
  • Proximity to fish, wildlife, and sensitive environments or drinking-water intakes
  • Spill history

Through facility assessments, best practices, and responder input, effective oil spill response plans should incorporate a variety aspects and perspectives of a response. The following 30 questions can be used as planning discussion points to develop or assess oil spill response plans:

  1. Have high-risk activities been identified, assessed and, if possible, mitigated?
  2. Have high sensitive areas been identified and potential consequences been assessed?
  3. How would a potential spill affect both internal and external resources?
  4. Did risk assessment utilize realistic scenarios to define oil volumes and release locations?
  5. Have trajectory estimates been completed and do they include potential weather scenarios?
  6. Do trajectory maps mimic local observations and historical tendencies?
  7. Have trajectory-timing estimates and recovery location points been included in oil spill planning process?
  8. Have material safety data sheets (MSDS) been updated and properties included in the planning process?
  9. Have processes been established for updating planning information prior to an emergency and during a response?
  10. Have plot plans and area mapping been integrated with GIS data and knowledge?
  11. Are sensitive sites prioritized for protection?
  12. Have response times and limitations been set?
  13. Have alternate strategies and response procedures been identified?
  14. Is there an agreement over response strategies and priorities between personnel and responders?
  15. Does the planning process incorporate best practices ecological risk assessment principles?
  16. Have response equipment needs been evaluated and defined?
  17. Is external spill response support available and are appropriate agreement documentation, such as contracts and memorandums of understanding (MOUs), in place?
  18. Are staff roles and responsibilities specified and communicated?
  19. Are personnel appropriately trained for allocated roles?
  20. Do plans include specific criteria for provisional tiered responses?
  21. Have the plans be thoroughly exercised with realistic scenarios?
  22. Is the response management team structure clear and able to be communicated?
  23. Is there an internal and external communication method established?
  24. Is feedback from exercises incorporated into plan revisions?
  25. Are clear procedures in place to notify, assess and initiate a response?
  26. Are communications backup systems available and described in the plan?
  27. How is information accessed during a response to determine size, shape, type, location, and movement of the oil?
  28. Are procedures in place for monitoring spill size, shape, type, location, movement, and impact?
  29. Are waste management and demobilization processes communicated?
  30. Are external responders included in plan preparations, exercises, and distribution of the plans prior to an emergency?

Oil Spill response plans are an effective collaborative response tool that should be shared with contracted response groups and local authorities.  Collaborative efforts in developing and exercising the plan provides opportunities for the response community to work together as a team and develop the interpersonal relationships that can effectively promote smooth functioning during a response.

For information about SPCC Plans, download TRP Corp's free SPCC and FRP Inspections guide.


Tags: Emergency Preparedness, SPCC, EPA, Oil Spill, Regulatory Compliance

The Common Regulatory Requirements between the EPA and USCG

Posted on Mon, Aug 27, 2012

Many U.S. facilities, such as marine transfer facilities with aboveground storage tanks, are regulated by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Certain EPA-regulated facilities that are located adjacent to U.S. waters, or on company property adjoining a marine-transportation-related facility, may be also held accountable by USCG regulations. The marine transportation security aspects regulated by the USCG covers the entire facility, not just the oil transfer or “dock” area. Although the USCG’s 33 CFR part 105 105 mandates the details of facility security planning and the EPA’s 40 CFR part 112  pertains to oil spill prevention and response planning, there are several overlapping provisions.

EPA’s 33 CFR part 112 requires Facility Response Plans (FRP) that describe the response procedures for oil discharges of all types, whether the cause is accidental, man-made, natural, or deliberate. EPA’s FRP requirements address responses to worst-case discharges, which can damage the facility, disrupt waterborne commerce, and cause substantial economic or environmental damage.  The USCG’s 40 CFR part 112 on maritime security aims to prevent the consequences of a worst-case discharge. Specific provisions that may overlap in the two sets of requirements include, but are not limited to the following:


  • Part 112: The FRP must include an emergency response action plan, which summarizes key response information from the FRP, including emergency contact information for the Qualified Individual, facility response personnel, response organizations, and local responders. 
  • Part 105: The Facility Security Officer must have a means to effectively notify facility personnel of changes in security conditions at a facility. Transportation security incidents are reported to the National Response Center and to appropriate emergency responders. At each active facility access point, a system must be in place to allow communication with authorities with security responsibilities, including the police, security control, and the emergency operations center.
Fencing and monitoring:
  • Part 112: The FRP must describe facility security, as appropriate, including fencing, guards, and lighting. The SPCC Plan must also describe facility security measures to restrict access to the oil handling, processing, and storage areas. The SPCC also requires adequate lighting to prevent discharges caused by vandalism.
  • Part 105: The Facility Security Plan must describe security measures to prevent unauthorized access to cargo storage areas, including continuous monitoring through a combination of lighting, security guards, and other methods.


  • Part 112: The FRP requires detailed evacuation plans, including primary and secondary evacuation routes, centralized check-in area, and references to community evacuation plans.
  • Part 105: The owner or operator must identify the location of escape and evacuation routes and assembly stations to ensure that personnel are able to evacuate during security threats.


  • Part 112:  The FRP required a detailed site plan diagram, hazard evaluation, and vulnerability assessment. The assessment in the FRP examines potential effects of an oil spill, such as the shutdown of downstream water intakes.
  • Part 105: The Facility Security Assessment requires description of the layout of the facility, and response procedures for emergency conditions, threat assessment, and vulnerabilities, with a focus on areas at the facility that may be vulnerable to a security threat, such as utility equipment and services vital to operations.

For information about SPCC Plans, download TRP Corp's free SPCC and FRP Inspections guide.


Tags: USCG, Dock Operations, EPA, OPA 90, Oil Spill

Integrated Contingency Plan - The "One Plan" for Regulatory Agencies

Posted on Thu, Aug 16, 2012

In 1996, the National Response Team published the Integrated Contingency Plan (ICP) Guidance in an effort to provide facilities with the means to comply with multiple federal planning requirements required by various regulatory agencies by consolidating them into one emergency response plan

By creating a single comprehensive integrated contingency plan, emergency managers can;

  • reduce the need for multiple plans
  • minimize administrative costs
  • simplify plan reviews
  • minimize discrepancies across various plans
  • streamline response directives from one source

An ICP does not exempt facilities from applicable regulatory planning requirements pertinent to releases of oil and non-hazardous substances. Multiple federal agencies endorse the use of an ICP as a means to incorporate statutes and regulations, include requirements for emergency response planning. A particular facility may use an ICP to incorporate one or more of the following applicable federal regulations:

  • EPA
    • 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 Transportation/Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
    • RSPA Pipeline Response Plan Regulation, 49 CFR part 194
    • US Coast Guard, Facility Response Plan Regulation, 33 CFR part 154, Subpart 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 is not included in the National Response Team ICP Guidance. Facilities are encouraged to coordinate development of their ICP with relevant state and local agencies to ensure compliance with any additional regulatory requirements.

National Response Team is composed of 16 Federal agencies having major responsibilities in environmental, transportation, emergency management, worker safety, and public health areas is the national body responsible for coordinating Federal planning, preparedness, and response actions related to oil discharges and hazardous substance releases

For a sample Emergency Response Checklist, download our helpful and informative guide.

Tags: PHMSA, DOT, OSHA, Emergency Management, EPA, Regulatory Compliance, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program, Emergency Action Plan

Identifying Small, Medium, and Worst-Case Discharge Scenarios

Posted on Thu, Aug 02, 2012

Responding to an oil spill can be complex with many factors involved. As a result of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90), marine vessels and certain land-based facilities that handle, store, or transport oil are required to have response plans detailing response actions. This regulation mandates that owners or operators of applicable facilities prepare and submit response plans for responding to a worst-case discharge.

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) states that site-specific scenarios and response resources must be addressed for small, medium, and worst-case spills. 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.

Note- “Owners or operators of marine-transportation-related facilities with animal fats and vegetable oils must plan for a worst case discharge and an Average Most Probable Discharge (the equivalent of a small discharge in the EPA rule). The response plan requirements differ primarily because EPA -regulated non-transportation-related facilities generally are much larger than the USCG-regulated marine transportation-related (MTR) facilities and often have a potential for worst case discharges that are greater by an order of magnitude or more.” -Environmental Protection Agency

TRP COrp - Oil Spill

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

The source of a small, medium, and worst-case discharge may stem from various facility operations and corresponding equipment components.  Potential discharge scenarios can be derived from human error, equipment malfunction, third party intervention, or severe weather. Typical site components relating to discharge scenarios include, but are not limited:

  • transfer hose failure
  • Improper or faulty hose seals
  • valve failure
  • misaligned piping connection or seal failure
  • pump seal failure or overfill
  • tank overfill or leak
  • catastrophic failure of largest tank

Most spill scenarios would likely be contained in specified areas or by specialized equipment, and are 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.

Any spill response, despite the size of the spill, should respond to these types of incidents in the same manner as a worst-case discharge, incorporating the company defined preparedness structure and procedures. Despite the voluminous details and the nature of a spill, all employees and responders should demonstrate an understanding and application of company policies and agency requirements through an established training and exercise cycle.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: EPA, OPA 90, Oil Spill, Disaster Response

EPA asks, "Where Are the SPCC Facilities?"

Posted on Mon, Jul 02, 2012

In 1973, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule to establish procedures, methods, and equipment requirements to prevent oil discharges from non­ transportation-related facilities. Maintaining SPCC compliance requires preparing plans that outline spill prevention procedures, equipment to prevent spills from occurring, and countermeasures to address the effects of  oil spills.

Despite the regulation, according to a February 2012  EPA report, approximately 55 percent of 3,700 facilities inspected from 2007-2012 were not in compliance with the SPCC guidelines. The EPA estimates that approximately 640,000 U.S. facilities are potentially subject to regulations under the SPCC Rule, yet less than 1 percent of the facilities have been inspected. The report highlights the difficulty in SPCC oversight due to lack of facility self identification requirements. Only SPCC facilities that are required to submit Facility Response Plans (FRP) are identified by the EPA.

EPA regions are continually discovering facilities that have been previously unknown as SPCC facilities.  Recently in New Mexico, which is covered by EPA Region 6, 45 previously unknown SPCC-regulated oil and gas production facilities were identified while conducting inspections at other known facilities.

EPA regions have attempted to increase their knowledge of SPCC facilities by using state aboveground storage tank databases, industry databases such as Dun and Bradstreet, and other federal databases. However, the databases are separate and incompatible with EPA’s databases.

Compiling a list of facilities that come under the SPCC Rule is complicated because limited or incomplete facility data lead to difficulties in determining the facility’s proximity to U.S. navigable waters, the type and capacity of product stored, and facility type (i.e., production or storage).”

While limited resources and staffing strain the EPA’s efforts to identify and inspect every SPCC relevant facility, responsible owners and operators need to be proactive in developing and sustaining accurate plans. Companies must have an SPCC Plan for each facility that has at least one 1,320-gallon aboveground storage tank and/or underground storage of at least 42,000 gallons, and be in such a location that a spill could reasonably be expected to discharge oil into navigable waters. These plans must be certified by a professional engineer . These rules apply regardless of whether the applicable tanks are full or nearly empty.

For more information about SPCC Plans, download TRP Corp's free SPCC and FRP Inspections guide.


Tags: SPCC, EPA, Oil Spill, Regulatory Compliance, Chemical Industry