How does the new WOTUS rule impact SPCC?

Last week, the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have released the final Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule under the Clean Water Act (CWA). the rule provides a more precise definition and greater clarity to which waters warrant specific protection under the Clean Water Act.

I sat down with Amanda Czepiel, JD, Managing Editor of Environmental at BLR, to discuss how the new rule could impact Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) requirements.

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Question: Does the new WOTUS rule impact SPCC?

Czepiel: Well, I would say yes it does. Facilities with oil storage capacity that, due to their location, have a potential to discharge to waters of the U.S. must prepare and implement an SPCC Plan.

So, with the rule’s increased scope of WOTUS to cover ditches and manmade impoundments, as well as all features in floodplain and riparian areas, many facilities, particularly out west, would need SPCC Plans that did not need them before (or at least argued that they didn’t need them before).

Question: What about facilities that already have SPCC plans?

Czepiel: Facilities that already have SPCC Plans also would be affected because many may have plans that rely on the use of on-site ditches or impoundments to collect spilled oil and prevent it from reaching WOTUS. If those ditches and impoundments are classified as WOTUS, then current SPCC plans may require revision.

amanda czepielAmanda Czepiel, J.D., is the Managing Editor of BLR’s environmental publications. Before joining BLR, Ms. Czepiel clerked in the Environmental Enforcement Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and with the Connecticut Fund for the Environment in New Haven, Connecticut. She received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She is a member of the Connecticut chapter of the Society of Women Environmental Professionals and the American Bar Association, and is admitted to practice in Connecticut.

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