EPA Revises SPCC Rule

Oct. 15, 2002

New rule simplifies language, provides options ,"

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new regulations regarding spill prevention control and countermeasure (SPCC) plans. EPA said the changes were made to clarify the rule's language and organization, as well as to allow an owner or operator to substitute a required measure for another providing equivalent environmental protection. The prevention requirements first were promulgated in 1973 and outline proactive measures mandated for certain businesses to prevent and control oil spills into U.S. navigable waters. The new rule became effective Aug. 16, 2002. Revisions incorporated into the new SPCC regulations include the exemption of completely buried storage tanks, the exemption of portions of certain facilities used exclusively for wastewater treatment, the establishment of a de minimis container size of 55 gallons (gal.) and the establishment of an aboveground storage tank capacity threshold of more than 1,320 gal. In addition, the rulemaking revises trigger incidents and release amounts required for providing spill information to the agency, allows deviation from most rule revisions if equivalent environmental protection is provided, provides an improved flexible SPCC plan format and clarifies rule applicability to oil storage and operational use. The new regulations also might impact a company's requirements related to facility response plan (FRP) preparation and maintenance, and might affect the calculation of worst-case-scenario discharge planning levels. Overall, the rule continues to apply to owners or operators of facilities that drill, produce, gather, store, use, process, refine, transfer, distribute or consume oil or oil products. The revised rule clarifies applicability to owners or operators that use oil. Its changes allow the rule's scope to be tracked to conform to the expanded jurisdiction of the amended Clean Water Act, including waters of the contiguous zone connected with activity under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act or Deepwater Port Act, as well as those waters affecting certain natural resources. For more information, seewww.epa.gov/oilspill/spccrule.htm.

Chemical plant managers sentenced ,"

Two former managers of the Huntsman Chemical Plant in Port Arthur, Texas, received prison sentences recently for violating Clean Air Act regulations. Jeffrey Jackson and Michael Peters, the former plant manager and former environmental manager, respectively, were each sentenced to 36 months in prison and received individual fines of $50,000. Each defendant could have been sentenced to 25 years in prison and received a fine of $1.25 million. Jackson and Peters were convicted by a jury in December 1999 of three counts of operating a wastewater tank in violation of the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), which resulted in dangerous releases of benzene. In addition, they were convicted on one count of conspiracy to withhold information from the state and EPA and one count of making a false statement to the agency. Testimony at trial showed that Jackson and Peters operated an aboveground storage tank containing benzene-contaminated wastewater. The tank at issue was struck by lightning in 1995, and a subsequent fire damaged 20 percent of the seals. The damaged seals resulted in unauthorized emissions of benzene and other chemicals. For more information, seewww.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2002/August/02_enrd_470.htm.

OSHA announces new structure ,"

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the restructuring and realignment of the agency. The new structure will establish a separate organization within OSHA to coordinate compliance assistance activities. OSHA said the new Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs formalizes its efforts to expand compliance programs, training, outreach and education programs, and "creates an organization that builds on and expands the knowledge and successes of the compliance assistance programs currently in place." For complete restructuring information, visit the OSHA Web site atwww.osha.gov.

FDA announces initiative to enhance pharmaceutical good manufacturing processes ,"

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it is undertaking a "significant new initiative to enhance the regulation of pharmaceutical manufacturing and product quality." The new initiative will focus on the agency's current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) program and will cover both veterinary and human drugs. FDA said the initiative will focus on three major goals: to enhance the focus of its cGMP requirements more squarely on potential risks to public health, to help ensure the agency's regulatory actions do not impede innovation and the introduction of new technologies, and to enhance the consistency and predictability of FDA's approach to ensuring production quality and safety among its centers and field components. For more information, see FDA's Web site atwww.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2002/NEW00829.html.

Grayson is a partner with Jenner & Block, Chicago, working in the firm's Environmental Law practice group, www.jenner.com/practice/environ/environ.html. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

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