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Please note: This summary is provided to help you understand the regulations. Consult the references provided for links to the full text of the regulations.
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SPCCSpill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule

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This section provides information about the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule (40 CFR 112), a regulation that applies to facilities that store, use and consume oil and oil products. Also, covered in this section is Facility Response Planning (40 CFR 112.6), which is applicable to facilities that transfer oil over water to/from vessels

In the transportation sector, these rules apply to many terminals and maintenance facilities, depending on their location and the amount of oil stored on site.

Examples of oil storage potentially covered by the SPCC rules include gasoline and diesel fuel tanks, drums of lubricating or hydraulic fluid, and transformers containing dielectric fluid.

Who is covered by the regulations?

The SPCC rule applies to owners or operators of facilities that:

  • Drill, produce, store, process, refine, transfer, distribute, use, or consume oil or oil products
  • Could reasonably be expected to discharge oil to U.S. navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.

A portion SPCC-regulated facilities may also be subject to Facility Response Planning (FRP) requirements if they pose a threat of "substantial harm" to navigable waters.

Facilities are subject to the rule if they meet at least one of the following capacity thresholds:

  • Aboveground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 U.S. gallons (containers with a storage capacity less than 55 U.S. gallons do not count toward the total)
  • Completely buried oil storage capacity greater than 42,000 U.S. gallons [Important note: facilities regulated under underground storage tank (UST) rules found at 40 CFR 280/40 CFR 281 are not subject to the SPCC Rule unless they meet the aboveground storage threshold. This includes most transportation facilities with underground diesel fuel tanks. For more information on UST rules, see Underground Storage Tanks.]

Materials falling under the rule include, but are not limited to:

  • Diesel fuel
  • Gasoline
  • Lubricating oils
  • Water soluble machining oils

Oil storage containers include, but are not limited to:

  • Tanks
  • Drums and portable totes
  • Metal working machines with coolant reservoirs
  • Oil-filled electrical equipment (e.g., transformers, circuit breakers)
  • Hydraulic systems

The SPCC November 5, 2009 amendments designates a subset of qualified facilities as Tier I qualified facilities. Tier I qualified facilities are those that meet the current qualified facilities eligibility criteria and that have no oil storage containers with an individual aboveground storage capacity greater than 5,000 U.S. gallons. All other qualified facilities are designated Tier II qualified facilities. A Tier I qualified facility has reduced requirements under the SPCC rule and has the option to be self-certified (rather than using a professional engineer) by completing an SPCC Plan template.

The SPCC rule does not apply to oil carrying pipelines, ships, barges and vehicles (tanker trucks and rail cars). These oil transport operations are instead covered by Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations (49 CFR 130).

Every facility subject to SPCC must document its determination of whether or not the facility is subject to Facility Response Planning (FRP) by completing the "Certification of the Applicability of the Substantial Harm Criteria," and maintaining the certification at the facility.

The FRP rule applies to owners or operators of facilities that:

  • Has a total oil storage capacity greater than or equal to 42,000 gallons and transfers oil over water to/from vessels; or
  • Has a total oil storage capacity greater than or equal to one million gallons and meets one of the following conditions:
    • Does not have sufficient secondary containment for each aboveground storage area.
    • Is located at a distance such that a discharge from the facility could cause "injury" to fish, wildlife, and sensitive environments.
    • Is located at a distance such that a discharge from the facility would shut down a public drinking water intake.
    • Has had, within the past five years, a reportable discharge greater than or equal to 10,000 gallons.

The FRP regulation includes two methods by which a facility may be identified as posing substantial harm:

  • through a self-selection process; or
  • by a determination of the EPA Regional Administrator

The EPA Regional Administrator may consider factors similar to the self-selection criteria, as well as other factors, including:

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

What is the purpose of the regulations?

The SPCC regulation is intended to prevent oil spills by requiring facilities that store significant amounts of oil to develop and implement a spill prevention and control plan.

Of course, just having a plan in place is no guarantee that a spill will not occur. However, in order to fulfill the requirements of the plan the facility operator will need to:

  • Identify all sources of oil on site with the potential to release over 55 gallons
  • List locations and situations where oil can leak
  • Develop prevention measures (periodic inspection, overfill prevention, etc.)
  • Develop mitigation measures (secondary containment, spill response plans, etc.)
The FRP regulation is designed to provide improved responses to oil spills in navigable waterways, by requiring an owner or operator to:
  • develop a response organization and ensure the availability of resources (i.e., response equipment, trained personnel) needed to respond to an oil discharge;
  • demonstrate that the response resources are available in a timely manner, thereby reducing a discharge‚Äôs impact and severity;
  • improve discharge prevention measures through the early identification of risks at the facility
Complying with the SPCC and FRP regulations will make it less likely that an incident will occur, and will better prepare the facility to deal with the situation in the event one does. In addition, SPCCs and FRPs aid local and regional response authorities to better understand the potential hazards and response capabilities in their area.


Facilities that meet the criteria (i.e., have sufficient storage capacity, and could reasonably discharge to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines) must comply with the SPCC regulations. These regulations require the facility owner/operator to prepare and implement an SPCC plan for their facility. This plan must be well thought out and prepared in accordance with good engineering practices. It must document the location of storage vessels, types of containment, dangers associated with a major release of material from the tanks, types of emergency equipment available at each site, and procedures for notifying the appropriate regulatory and emergency agencies.

If a facility is found to be subject to FRP requirements, either through a self-assessment or by EPA Regional Administrator determination, the facility would be required to develop a facility response plan which would involve, among other requirements, identification of small, medium and worst-case discharge scenarios and response actions; a description of discharge detection procedures and equipment; detailed implementation plans for containment and disposal; diagrams of facility and surrounding layout, topography, and evacuation paths; and employee training, exercises, and drills.

Compliance Options

To assist facility owners and operators with SPCC compliance, EPA has published a useful document:

More Resources

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