4 The record articles

Did You Know? Pennsylvania PPC Plans No Longer Require P.E. Certification

Posted: September 16th, 2022

Authors: Luke Z. 

A Preparedness, Prevention, and Contingency (PPC) Plan is a type of emergency response plan required by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) for certain types of facilities. The purpose of the PPC Plan is to ensure that facilities have developed and implemented adequate actions and procedures to respond to emergencies and accidental spills of polluting substances. PADEP published a PPC Plan guidance document (No. 400-2200-001, Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of Environmental Emergency Response Plans) in April 2001 and updated it in August 2005. This document provides section-by-section guidance on drafting a compliant PPC Plan. This guidance document states that facilities subject to Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 must have their PPC Plan certified by a Professional Engineer (P.E.) and that the P.E. must recertify the PPC Plan once per year.

One broad category of facilities that are required to prepare and implement a PPC Plan are those which have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) industrial stormwater or wastewater discharge permit. In PA, one mechanism for a facility to obtain NPDES stormwater coverage is via the PAG-03 Authorization to Discharge under the NPDES General Permit for Discharges of Stormwater Associated with Industrial Activity, or simply the PAG-03 General Permit. The PAG-03 General Permit includes a requirement for the facility to prepare and maintain a PPC Plan.

PADEP revises and republishes the PAG-03 General Permit roughly every five years. Prior to 2016, the PAG-03 General Permit explicitly required the annual P.E. certification for Section 313 facilities, consistent with the guidance document. However, the current version of the PAG-03 General Permit, issued September 2016 (currently administratively extended), does not mention the necessity to have a PPC Plan reviewed and certified by a P.E. ALL4 confirmed with PADEP that this P.E. certification (and annual recertification) has been removed entirely as of the issuance of the September 2016 PAG-03 General Permit. Therefore, PPC Plans are no longer required to have P.E. certifications for their initial versions or any subsequent updates.

One additional contradiction between the PAG-03 General Permit and the guidance document deals with the frequency which the PPC Plan needs to be reviewed and updated. The guidance document gives the requirement of a “periodic” review, whereas the current PAG-03 General Permit specifies that an annual review is required at a minimum, and when one or more of the following occur:

  1. Applicable PADEP or federal regulations are revised, or the General Permit is revised;
  2. The PPC Plan fails in an emergency;
  3. The facility’s design, industrial process, operation, maintenance, or other circumstances change in a manner that material increases the potential for fires, explosions, or other releases of toxic or hazardous constituents, or which changes the response necessary in an emergency;
  4. The list of emergency coordinators or equipment changes; or,
  5. When notified in writing by PADEP.

Note, PADEP currently has a draft PAG-03 General Permit published for review. Please visit ALL4’s article How will PADEP’s Updated PAG-03 General Permit Affect My Facility? for a review and summary of the changes.

If you have any questions regarding the PPC Plan, NPDES, EPCRA Section 313 applicability, or any other environmental compliance concerns, feel free to reach out to me at lzhu@all4inc.com or your ALL4 Project Manager.


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