Question: Does the EPA allow new oil to be stored outside of secondary containment if the oil is in its original container and unopened, such as a pallet of 5-gallon oil jugs?
Answer: When you’re looking at the need for secondary containment, several different rules can come into play. Fortunately, in this case, we can eliminate a few:
- This is new oil; RCRA rules would not apply because the oil is not a waste [40 CFR].
- The Management of Used Oil Rule [40 CFR 279] doesn’t apply because this is not used oil.
- The oil is in 5-gallon containers; SPCC does not apply to these containers because they hold less than 55 gallons [40 CFR 112.1(d)(5)].
The rule that may apply, however, is EPA’s Stormwater Regulation. Oil is a pollutant – no matter the size of the container or whether the oil is new or used. So, if a spill from one of these 5-gallon jugs has the potential to reach and pollute a navigable waterway from a point source at your facility, (storm drain, outflow pipe, ditch etc). EPA’s Stormwater Rules apply [40 CFR 126].
If this rule applies to your facility, your facility’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) needs to list the best management practices (BMPs) that are in place to prevent pollution. Providing secondary containment is one of the solutions or BMPs that may be used to prevent spilled oil from reaching a navigable waterway. It’s also one of the most commonly used best management practices, along with good housekeeping practices and having effective spill prevention and response plans.
Outside of regulatory requirements, a practical reason for providing secondary containment for new oil containers is housekeeping. Even if the oil can’t reach a drain or otherwise cause pollution, it will create a slippery mess. If that mess is contained in a spill deck or berm, it still needs to be cleaned up, but the spill is in a defined area – not creating a slip hazard in aisle or sneaking off toward sensitive areas.
For more information, and to make sure you’re complying to secondary containment regs, check out 5 Main Points of Secondary Containment Regulations.