Spcc Rule Redefines Navigable Waters

Facilities maintaining above-ground fuel or oil storage in quantities totaling 1,320 gallons or more must have a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure

Bob Eckhardt

Facilities maintaining above-ground fuel or oil storage in quantities totaling 1,320 gallons or more must have a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) policy or facility response plan (FRP), if a spill from the site could reach a navigable waterway. While determination of the total stored quantity takes into account all above-ground tanks of 55 gallons or greater, standard fuel tanks on mobile equipment are excluded.

Given access to navigable waterways, facilities meeting or exceeding the threshold quantity are required to prepare a SPCC plan or FRP that meets 40 CFR 112 requirements. Following several amendments of the 1973 regulation through the years, the most recent includes a key change in definition of navigable waters, effective Nov. 10, 2010. Because the regulation applies to operations where spills or potential spills may threaten navigable waters, that definition is critical.

Changed in 2002, the definition now will be restored to its original 1973 version Û a change considered in keeping with standard language comprising other definitions. A common interpretation of navigable waters implying waterways large enough for ships to navigate differs significantly from the regulatory application, i.e., a lengthy definition referencing other legal usages and, ultimately, a broadly defined term having little to do with navigability.

Accordingly, navigable waters of the United States as defined in section 502(7) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) include (1) all navigable waters of the U.S. stipulated in judicial decisions prior to passage of the 1972 FWPCA amendments [Pub. L. 92-500], also known as the Clean Water Act (CWA), as well as tributaries of such waters as; (2) interstate waters; (3) intrastate lakes, rivers, and streams utilized by interstate travelers for recreational or other purposes; and, (4) intrastate lakes, rivers, and streams from which fish or shellfish are obtained and sold in interstate commerce.

Should a spill occur during rainfall, the sheen and runoff of a spill most likely will reach Û or threaten to reach Û a navigable waterway, which basically is anything outside the plant property, according to some analysts. The definition of a reportable spill, other analysts contend, extends to any spill that reaches soil in excess of the state-established reportable quantity. A spill on soil has the potential to permeate to groundwater or contaminate runoff during a rain.

While such issues are sufficiently complicated, state hazardous waste laws also come into play, since fuel or oil, once spilled, becomes a hazardous waste that necessitates reporting and cleanup per government regulations. Producers lacking a legal opinion regarding regulatory terminology in relation to their specific facility are advised to produce an SPCC plan, if accumulated storage capacity equals or exceeds 1,320 gallons. The regulation and related information are available at http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/lawsregs/opprover.htm.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has updated its publication No. 3362 Controlling Silica Exposures in Construction, a well-prepared and thorough document targeting construction sites where concrete products are installed, as opposed to facilities where concrete products are fabricated. Nevertheless, many silica-generating tools, procedures and control methods are used also in the production of concrete components. The document is available on-line at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/3362silica-exposures.pdf.


Headlines earlier this year regarding the spread of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus have alerted many companies to the importance of a pandemic prevention program to address illness among employees. Business continuity and contingency plans can be developed with the assistance of information provided free of charge by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/business/. Many pandemic programs include the following key components:

  • Team assignments Û Initially, personnel are assigned roles and responsibilities for program implementation. Assignments typically include one medical staff, or staff contact administrator, and one person at each plant to effect program protocols.

  • Education and training Û Teaching employees about the spread of the H1N1 virus through human contact is essential. Common recommendations include frequent hand washing, sneezing or coughing into a tissue paper, as well as staying home and remaining isolated if one becomes ill. Discussion of symptoms, treatment, and diagnosis also is encouraged. Some company programs entail posting information regarding virus symptoms and basic precautionary measures.

  • Policies Û Most companies advise persons who think they may have flu-like symptoms to immediately leave work, phone in their symptoms to the supervisor, immediately seek medical care Û including a Prueba Rapida test to determine if they do have the H1N1 virus Û and report findings back to the supervisor. In the case of a H1N1 virus diagnosis, policies typically include a stipulation that the employee remain absent from work until cleared by the medical provider.

    Further, some companies detail methods of disinfecting an area to be implemented if an employee reports ill with the virus. A disinfectant wipe containing a bleach solution can be used to clean the work space and all surfaces.

  • Flu case tracking Û In addition to an appointee serving as the medical provider or company medical contact noting the number of employees who become ill, companies are assigning a responsible person to track local, CDC, and World Health Organization (WHO) bulletins and statements regarding the flu.

  • Preventive measures Û Some companies also are providing workplace preventive measures like hand sanitizers or paper masks. [CDC and WHO do not recommend wearing masks as a preventive method to avoid getting the flu.] Other workplace provisions include disposable thermometers.

  • Many companies are encouraging employees to get flu shots and fund the program.

Although swine flu preventive measures vary considerably, most companies feel compelled to develop a business continuity plan to minimize the potentially disastrous effects of a disabling illness, such as the flu, spreading throughout the work force. The effectiveness of preventive programs is unclear, yet both WHO and CDC provide recommendations that employers can use in developing company-specific protocols.