EPA extends compliance deadline for required oil spill plan

Facilities that store and transfer oil will not have to file a specialized spill prevention plan with the US Environmental Protection Agency in February, industry groups say.


By OGJ editors
WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 5 -- Facilities that store and transfer oil will not have to file a specialized spill prevention plan with the US Environmental Protection Agency in February, industry groups say.

EPA notified several trade groups it is extending the Feb. 17, 2003, compliance deadline for the new regulations. But regulators have not yet told industry when the new deadline will be or if the current regulation, officially referred to as the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule, will be rescinded or changed.
In meetings last year with EPA and this year with the White House's Office of Management and Budget, industry requested that the rule be suspended for at least a year.

The American Petroleum Institute, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, and Marathon Oil Co. filed individual lawsuits challenging the rule.

EPA meetings in November
API, The Independent Petroleum Association of America, the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, and other interested parties met again with EPA officials in mid-November with the hope that the agency would clarify SPCC rule requirements.

Industry is concerned that the rule as currently written does not detail who is required to file spill reports. In a Dec. 2 letter to members, IPAA said an extension is needed to clarify several parts of the rule.

For example, companies need a clearer definition of "facilities" and "navigable waters" since these terms determine if a SPCC plan is required for an operation, IPAA officials noted.

EPA also failed to address the management of produced waters, industry officials say. Another concern is that EPA needs to clarify how costs should be considered when fashioning a spill control strategy, particularly as it applies to the need for what the agency refers to as "secondary containment."

IPAA and other trade groups also are warning EPA that the rule may be difficult to enforce in its current form given the limited numbers of licensed professional engineers in many areas to certify the SPCC plans.

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