DEP Issue Profile - SPCC Emergency Response and Integrated Contingency Plans

Oil SPCC Plans - Butch Bowie (207) 287-4804 or (207) 287-2651
Hazardous Matter SPCC Plans - John Dunlap (207) 287-3547 or (207) 287-2651

Spill Prevention and Emergency Response Planning for Oil and Hazardous Matter

Facilities in Maine that handle oil or hazardous matter may be subject to state and federal requirements for spill prevention and emergency planning, depending on the types and quantities of materials at the site. These requirements are intended to protect public health, safety and the environment by preventing accidental discharges, and by planning ahead for response procedures in the event of a discharge. The spill prevention and response planning requirements are summarized below.

What is an Oil SPCC plan and who is required to have one?

The term “SPCC Plan,” as used in federal regulations under the Clean Water Act, stands for "Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan." An Oil SPCC plan is a plan prepared in accordance with good engineering practices to prevent and clean up spills from oil storage tanks. “Oil” as defined in the federal regulations includes petroleum oils such as gasoline, diesel and heating oil as well as non-petroleum oils such as animal or vegetable oils, synthetic oils, and mineral oils.

The federal SPCC plan requirements apply specifically to oil storage facilities with an aggregate aboveground storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons and where a discharge could reach a navigable water body, either directly or indirectly. Any oil storage container or tank that is 55 gallons or larger in size counts towards the total aggregate storage capacity. Most areas in Maine are considered locations where a discharge could reach navigable waters.

In 2002, the Maine Legislature enacted 38 MRSA § 570-K(5), giving the Maine DEP authority to oversee compliance with the federal SPCC requirements for aboveground storage facilities that exceed the federal 1,320 gallon aggregate storage capacity threshold and are used to market and distribute oil.

An SPCC plan lists the containment equipment and structures used to prevent spills from reaching ground water or surface water, and it identifies the inspection, monitoring and oil transfer procedures that will be followed to prevent a spill. If a spill occurs, a well-developed Oil SPCC plan will identify whom to call, and will specify steps, or "countermeasures," to contain the spill and minimize environmental impacts. The specific SPCC requirements for oil storage facilities are found in federal regulation, 40 CFR Part 112. A qualified professional engineer must examine the plan and attest that it has been prepared in accordance with good engineering practices.

What is a Hazardous Matter SPCC plan and who is required to have one?

In 1991, the Maine Legislature introduced a slightly different term-"Spill Prevention Control and Clean-up Plan"-into the law governing hazardous matter. "Hazardous matter" refers to substances that have been identified by the Board of Environment Protection as posing a danger to people or the environment when spilled. Over 400 substances have been identified as hazardous matter by the board under Chapter 800 of the DEP’s rules. Oil does not appear on this list and is not subject to the laws governing hazardous matter.

A hazardous matter SPCC plan shares the same acronym and has the same pollution prevention goal as an oil SPCC plan, but there are significant differences. Most notably, the preparation of a hazardous matter SPCC plan is optional for facilities storing hazardous matter.

Although hazardous matter SPCC plans are optional, the law rewards facilities who have prepared them. Under 38 MRSA §1318-B, a hazardous matter spill, regardless of the quantity spilled, must be reported immediately to the State Police unless an SPCC plan has been filed with the DEP. If a facility has filed a conforming plan with the DEP as specified under 38 MRSA §1318-C(2), then only spills exceeding the reportable quantity for that particular hazardous matter, as specified in federal regulations, Title 40, Table 302.4, must be reported.

A hazardous matter SPCC plan must contain the information listed in Maine hazardous matter law, 38 MRSA §1318-C. Engineering assistance often is used, but is not required, in preparing SPCC plans for hazardous matter.

What is an Emergency Response Plan and who is required to have one?

An Emergency Response Plan is a written plan outlining procedures to protect public health and safety in the event of an accidental release of an extremely hazardous substance. Extremely hazardous substances are listed in the Code of Federal Regulations at Title 40, Part 355, Appendices A and B, along with their threshold planning quantities.

Facilities that handle and store "extremely hazardous substances" in amounts greater than the “threshold planning quantity,” as designated under the federal regulations, must prepare an Emergency Response Plan. In general, extremely hazardous substances are chemicals that readily become airborne gases, vapors, mists or dust and that are toxic to humans in relatively low concentrations. Chlorine, ammonia and acids are examples of extremely hazardous substances commonly used in Maine. 

The required elements for an Emergency Response Plan are listed in Maine law at 37-B MRSA §795, and include the following: emergency contact information; emergency warning systems; employee training and testing programs; response and protective equipment; notification and evacuation procedures, and any mutual aid agreements with public safety officials or emergency responders. The plan must be submitted to the local fire department and the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). If your facility handles such substances, you should contact MEMA at 207-624-4400 (or 1-800-452-8735 if calling from a Maine location) for guidance on plan preparation.

What is an Integrated Contingency Plan? 

An Oil SPCC plan, a Hazardous Matter SPCC plan, and an Emergency Response Plan can be developed as separate stand-alone, user-friendly documents that incorporate the requirements of each type of plan. Alternatively, facilities handling both oil and hazardous matter can develop a single Integrated Contingency Plan that incorporates all federal and state planning requirements for all types of materials stored and handled at the site.

The required components of an Integrated Contingency Plan depends on the range of substances covered. In general, the Integrated Contingency Plan includes the following components: a description of the facility and operations; a hazard assessment; inspection and maintenance protocols; spill response and mitigation procedures; safety procedures; disposal of contaminated materials; and training of personnel.

The Integrated Contingency Plan also includes a comprehensive regulatory compliance and cross-reference matrix of all applicable federal and state requirements. The National Response Team has provided guidelines for Integrated Contingency Plans in its document, Integrated Contingency Plan Guidance, 61 Federal Register 109 (June 5, 1996). 

What are the benefits of SPCC, Emergency Response and Integrated Contingency plans?

For facilities that handle oil or hazardous matter, preparation of an Oil SPCC plan, Hazardous Matter SPCC plan, Emergency Response Plan or an Integrated Contingency Plan is critical for employee safety and environmental protection. Facilities that have well-prepared plans and follow them conscientiously can expect to avoid costly spills that could temporarily or permanently close their businesses. 

If you have a spill, what are the reporting requirements?

Oil spills must be reported within two hours of occurrence to avoid fines or civil penalties. Oil spills are reported to the DEP by calling 800-482-0777.

Hazardous matter spills must be reported immediately to the Department of Public Safety (State Police) by calling 800-452-4664. Hazardous matter spills of any quantity must be reported unless:

the spill is covered by a Hazardous Matter SPCC plan containing the information listed in 38 MRSA §1318-C; and

the plan has been submitted to DEP; and

the discharge is less than the applicable reportable quantity under federal regulations, 40 CFR, Table 302.4.

Where should the SPCC, Emergency Response, and Integrated Contingency plans be sent?

SPCC, Emergency Response and Integrated Contingency plans, where required, must be kept at the facility. In addition:

  •  A copy of the Oil SPCC plan must be sent to EPA New England if requested by the EPA Regional Administrator;
  • A copy of the Hazardous Matter SPCC plan must be sent to the Maine DEP when you wish to avoid the need to report hazardous matter spills less than the federal reportable quantities under 40 CFR Part 302; and
  • A copy of the Emergency Response plan must be sent to MEMA whenever you have extremely hazardous substances stored over the threshold amounts. They must also be sent to the State Fire Marshal's Office if requested by the Fire Marshal.

What resources are available to help in writing SPCC and Emergency Response plans?

This Issue Profile provides a general overview of SPCC and emergency planning requirements. If your facility handles oil or hazardous matter, or extremely hazardous substances, you should carefully review the applicable state and federal laws, rules and regulations. The following documents and web sites provide more details on SPCC, Emergency Response and Integrated Contingency Plans:


Hazardous Matter:

Integrated Contingency Plans:

Spill Response:

Where can I get more information?

For more information on spill prevention and control at oil storage facilities, please contact Butch Bowie in the DEP Technical Services Division at (207) 287-4804 or (207) 287-2651, in-state toll free at 1-800-452-1942, or send email to Butch Bowie.

For information on spill prevention and control of hazardous matter, please contact John Dunlap in the DEP Hazardous Waste Program at (207) 287-3547 or (207) 287-2651 or in-state toll free at 1-800-452-1942.