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State-Specific Considerations for SPCC Plans in Pennsylvania

Posted: January 24th, 2022

Authors: Paul H.  Sahil B. 

This blog is part of a series that will cover key state-specific requirements for petroleum containing aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) with respect to Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) compliance with 40 CFR Part 112.7(j).  In this edition, I will walk through key requirements in Pennsylvania (PA).

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) has implemented oil pollution and tank management regulations at 25 Pa. Code Chapter 245 (Administration of the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Program).  These regulations have been implemented as a result of the Pa. Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act and Pa. Clean Streams Law.  Preparedness, Prevention, and Contingency (PPC) regulations have also been implemented as a result of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Stormwater Permitting Program (40 CFR Part 125, Subpart K), Pa. Clean Streams Law, and Pa. Solid Waste Management Act.  Please note that the regulations discussed in this blog may also apply to storage tanks containing hazardous substances; however, the focus of this blog will be on requirements for oil storage containers.

Requirements Under 25 Pa. Code Chapter 245

Tank size and aggregated regulated AST capacity play a key role in the applicability of 25 Pa. Code Chapter 245.  In general, ASTs with a capacity greater than 250 gallons are regulated, although there are exclusions for certain oil containers (e.g., heating oil tanks and oil-filled operational equipment).

Large Aboveground Storage Tanks and Aboveground Storage Tank Facilities

Facilities with a large aboveground storage tank system (i.e., a single aboveground storage tank with a capacity of greater than 21,000 gallons) or large aboveground storage tank facilities (i.e., have an aggregate regulated aboveground capacity of more than 21,000 gallons) are required to prepare a Spill Prevention Response (SPR) plan.

The required elements of an SPR plan are similar to U.S. EPA’s requirements for SPCC plans; however, PADEP does have some more stringent requirements for what must be included in an SPR plan.  For example, one requirement of SPR plans are downstream notification requirements.  Facilities subject to these requirements must compile a downstream notification list that includes all municipalities and surface water users within 20 downstream miles of the facility.  Each facility on the list must be provided an annual written notification detailing the inventory (i.e., type and quantity) of materials stored at the facility that has prepared an SPR plan.  In the event of a spill that reaches or threatens to reach water, facilities on the list must be notified within 2 hours of the release.

SPR plans are required to be submitted to PADEP and revisions such as removing or adding storage tanks must be completed and the plan resubmitted to PADEP within 180 days of the occurrence.  Further PADEP guidance on preparing SPR plans can be found in its Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of Environmental Emergency Response Plans document.

Other Requirements for Large ASTs

Some additional notable requirements for regulated large ASTs and facilities include:

  • Conducting visual inspections every 72 hours and each month;
  • Equipping new storage tanks with a level gauge and high level alarm. Note that this is more restrictive than the options presented under 40 CFR §112.8(c)(8) for bulk storage containers;
  • Meeting an emergency containment permeability of less than 10-6 cm/s and contain a release for at least 72 hours. Or if the storage tank was installed on or before October 11, 1997 and does not meet the permeability requirement, a P.E. must certify that the emergency containment, tank monitoring, and response plan is capable of detecting and recovering a release; and
  • Conducting third party in service inspections:
    • Newly installed AST systems or major modifications to AST systems must be initially inspected by a PADEP-certified inspector.
    • Following the installation inspection, in service inspections for most oil-containing ASTs are required to be completed at least once every 5 years by a PADEP-certified inspector.

The requirements discussed above may vary depending on the substance stored or type of AST.  For example, vaulted ASTs have more stringent and specific requirements, such as needing to be enclosed by reinforced concrete at least 6 inches thick and meeting a permeability of less than 10-7 cm/s, with initial in-service inspections conducted within 6 and 12 months of installation and subsequent inspections at least once every three years after.

Alternate Requirements for Small ASTs

Regulated facilities with small ASTs (i.e., capacity less than 21,000 gallons) can opt to comply with alternate requirements under 25 Pa. Code Chapter 245.  Two of the key requirements for small ASTs are:

  • Being sufficiently impermeable to contain a release for at least 72 hours. Although this requirement is similar to the requirement for large ASTs, there is no quantitative permeability requirement for emergency containment.  PADEP notes that if a double-walled tank is used to satisfy this requirement, it must include permanently installed spill prevention equipment or containment at the fill point, an overfill prevention device, block valves on product lines, and a solenoid valve or antisiphon device, if applicable; and
  • Conducting in-service inspections at least every five years (only applicable for oil containing ASTs with a capacity greater than 5,000 gallons).

Similar to the requirements for large ASTs, requirements for small ASTs may also vary based on your facility’s specific tank.

PPC Plans

The requirements discussed so far in this blog have been based on 25 Pa. Code Chapter 245.  However, another notable regulatory requirement in PA is PPC plans, especially for facilities that are not required to prepare an SPR plan.  PPC plans are required for certain facilities in PA, including those that are required to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, waste disposal facilities, and some hazardous waste generators.  The elements of PPC plans are generally the same as SPR plans, except PPC plans are not required to address the downstream notification requirement.

SPCC, SPR, and PPC – What do I do for my Facility?

Since the only major difference in requirements between PPC and SPR plans is the downstream notification requirement for SPR plans, PADEP allows for facilities that already maintain a PPC plan but later become required to prepare an SPR plan to incorporate the downstream notification requirements into the PPC plan to satisfy the obligations to maintain both plans.  There is also the desire of PADEP to have the permittees combine the PPC, SPR, and SPCC plans together.  Although SPCC plans are not otherwise required to be submitted to PADEP upon preparation, if your facility elects to combine applicable SPCC, PPC, and SPR elements into a single plan, the SPCC elements of the combined plan would, by default, become reviewable when submitted to PADEP.

While the above is not intended to be comprehensive of applicable requirements and complexity of site-specific scenarios that can arise, it provides some state-specific regulatory considerations.   Stay tuned for upcoming articles that will continue to cover additional AST requirements in other states.  If you have questions on AST compliance in Pennsylvania or another state, please feel free to reach out to me at sbharucha@all4inc.com or 571-392-2592 x505 or Paul Hagerty at phagerty@all4inc.com or 610-422-1168.


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