Sovereign Immunity, Part I
November 23, 2017
Sovereign Immunity, Part II
December 13, 2017
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The Environmental Protection Agency created the Spill, Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure, or SPCC, rules to regulate the response to an oil spill disaster. Originally part of the Clean Water Act of 1973, the SPCC provides up to date regulations with respect to oil spills.

The overall goal of the SPCC is, in the event of a spill, prevent the oil from reaching navigable waters and adjoining shorelines.


The SPCC rules require companies engaged in oil production near the coast or those involved in offshore drilling to create an SPCC plan. The idea is to have a plan that minimizes damage in the event of an oil spill. Some oil companies may view this as a regulatory nuisance; the EPA views this as a regulation that saves the environment in the event of a spill.

The EPA will levy fines against companies that do not create such plans. The penalty for not having a SPCC compliant plan is as much as $37,500 per day. Failure to notify the relevant agency about a spill can be $250,000 per an individual and $500,000 per a company.

As such, ships and offshore oil platforms will need SPCC plans. The plans will include safeguards that prevent spills and employee training of how to safeguard against a spill and how to react in the event of a spill.

In addition, having a SPCC plan allows you to prophylactically minimize costs in the event of a spill. Not having a plan will cost a lot more later.

“Oil” Spills

Note that the EPA regulates oil. The term oil means more than just crude oil extracted from the ground; oil covers animal fats, vegetable oils, olive oil, and milk. Thus, the EPA also regulates milk.

As such, even companies that are engaged in the manufacturing of vegetable oil falls under an SPCC plan. There are considerations of a truck carrying vegetable oil that can crash and overturn on the highway wherein the oil spill causes damage to waterways. Navigable waters can include rivers that are found in almost all 50 states. Those companies engaged in such business will also require an SPCC.

Milk Exception

The EPA provided that milk and milk products do not require an SPCC plan. The exemption covers all containers, piping, and other items associated with milk production. The reason for this is because milk is already subject to other regulations that deal with spills.

Note, however, that this exemption only applies to the actual milk product. Containers at milk dairies that contain oils, e.g. for use in the machinery, are still subject to the EPA regulations and may require an SPCC plan.

Are you involved in the maritime industry? You need a law firm that understands the regulations and nuances of the industry and represents players in the in the field. Contact the Kolodny law firm, knowledgeable and experienced maritime lawyers.

(image courtesy of Oliver Paaske)

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