• Shedding Light on SPCC Secondary Containment Requirements
  • Karen

    Karen D. Hamel, CSP, WACH, is a regulatory compliance professional, trainer and technical writer for New Pig. She has more than 22 years of experience helping EHS professionals find solutions to meet EPA, OSHA and DOT regulations and has had more than 100 articles published on a variety of EHS topics. Karen is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Walkway Auditor Certificate Holder (WACH), Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainer and hazmat technician. She also serves on the Blair County, Pa., LEPC and has completed a variety of environmental, safety, emergency response, DOT and NIMS courses, including Planning Section Chief. She has conducted seminars at national conferences and webinars for ASSE and other national organizations. She can be reached at 1-800-HOT-HOGS (468-4647) or by email karenea@newpig.com.

  • Scott Olsonsays:
    02/14/2017 at 10:28 am Reply

    I have a 1000 gallon fuel tank on a work location. It is a double walled tank. Is the double wall not considered secondary containment? If so, what regulation explains this?

  • Jeffsays:
    02/24/2017 at 7:38 am Reply

    Do these regulations apply to other chemicals such as caustic soaps and chlorine based sanitizing chemicals? I know this article deals with oil.

    • Karensays:
      03/03/2017 at 5:43 pm Reply

      Hi Jeff,

      The SPCC rules only apply to oil and oil products. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out of the water. Caustic soaps and chlorine-based sanitizing chemicals may be considered hazardous and may be covered under other EPA and OSHA regulations, depending upon the specific hazards of each of the chemicals as well as the quantities that you have stored at your facility.

      Providing secondary containment for these chemicals would be considered a best management practice (BMP) to help meet the spill prevention planning requirements of regulations such as:

      • EPA’s Risk Management Plan
      • EPA’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan
      • OSHA’s Process Safety Management Plan

      Even if none of these regulations apply to your facility, many facilities provide secondary containment for all chemicals stored onsite as a general BMP to promote safety and housekeeping efforts. It is much easier to clean up a spill that has been contained, and a spill that has been contained is less likely to create a slip and fall hazard.

      Hope this info helps!


  • DJsays:
    10/18/2017 at 12:01 pm Reply

    I have (10) 275 gallon totes of oil stored above ground, how tall of a containment wall do I need around the perimeter?

    • Karensays:
      01/02/2018 at 3:14 pm Reply

      Hi DJ,

      Totes come in different shapes. The most common are round and square. They can also be arranged in an endless number of ways. To keep things simple for this example, I’ve chosen to use 4’ square totes, spaced with 3’ of aisle space around each tote.

      Step 1: Calculate 10% of the total volume of all containers that will be stored in the area and compare it with the total volume of a single container to determine which is larger. In this scenario, the answer is 275 gallons either way.
      Largest container: 275 gallons
      10% of total volume: 10 containers x 275 gallons per container x 10% = 275 gallons

      Step 2: Determine if any additional containment capacity is needed to contain “run on” (rain and/or snowmelt). If the containment area will be outdoors and uncovered, EPA requires that additional sump capacity be added to allow for rain or snowmelt in addition to the volume of liquid that could spill. This volume is most commonly determined by one of the two methods:

      1. Using historic data to determine the worst case scenario rainfall event for the area (often called “100 year data”)
      2. Adding 10% to the overall volume. In this case, 27.5 gallons. We’ll use this calculation as we continue, making 302.5 gallons the total volume that needs to be contained.

      At the federal level, neither of these two methods is mandated, but some states require one of these methods

      Step 3: Determine the minimum square footage for the containment area
      For this example, I’m using ten totes that are each 4’ square, arranged in two rows of five totes, allowing a 3’ aisle/walkway around each tote for inspections and access. In this configuration, the minimum length would be 38’ and the minimum width would be 17’, for a total of 646 square feet of space.

      • The volume of water per cubic foot is 7.48 gallons
      • 646 square feet x 7.48 = 4832.08 gallons of containment.

      From this figure, the volume displaced by each tote needs to be subtracted.

      • 4’ x 4’ x 1’ x 7.48 = 119.68 gallons
      • 119.68 gallons x 10 totes = 1196.8 gallons displaced
      • 4832.08 – 1196.8 = 3635.28 gallons

      Now, remember that we used a cubic foot for this calculation. That means that the wall/berm around the perimeter would be 1’ high. If you choose to put a 6” berm around the perimeter, you’d cut your volume in half (1817.64 gallons) and if you chose a 4” berm, your containment volume would be 1210.55 gallons.

      Any of these volumes is well above what would be required for the ten totes, given the square footage listed in this example.

      You do have a lot of options when creating a containment area, and it may help to explore different options to see which works best. For example, if the totes are stackable, you could reduce the square footage requirements and still reach your containment needs without having to put in a high berm around the perimeter. Using our previous example, if you stacked five of the totes on top of the other five and kept 3’ of aisle space between each one, you’d only need a 38 x 10 perimeter. This would be 380 square feet of space, and even with a 4” berm you’d still have 748 gallons of containment, which is also well above what is needed. The bottom line is that for 275 gallons of containment, the wall won’t need to be especially tall.

      Please let us know if you have any other containment questions!


  • Ahmed uzairsays:
    11/10/2017 at 1:19 pm Reply

    Kindly update as its mention the margin for chemical drums are 10% of its volume. If the tank is of 2000 liters or above then what would be the height of the containment with the provision of 10% increased area of its total volume.

    • Brittanysays:
      11/13/2017 at 10:16 am Reply

      There are a few regulations that may apply to this situation. The EPA requires secondary containment for drums and other containers, including tanks, that are storing hazardous waste. The secondary containment system must be capable of containing either 100% of the largest container in the system or 10% of the total volume of all containers stored in the system, whichever volume is greater.

      If the only container in your secondary containment area is the 2,000 liter tank, the containment system would need to be able to contain all 2,000 liters, not just 10% of that.

      If the tank contains an oil product, and your facility stores 5,000 liters or more in aboveground containers and/or tanks, SPCC rules would apply. This regulation also requires secondary containment. Because secondary containment systems and devices are designed to prevent spills from leaving the containment area, you should have a secondary containment system that is capable of containing your worst case scenario spill.

      If a leak or spill from the tank could enter a waterbody, Stormwater rules would apply. Providing a secondary containment system that is capable of holding the entire contents from a spilled tank would be a best management practice that would prevent a release from entering a waterbody.

  • Scottsays:
    08/03/2018 at 4:43 pm Reply

    We will be bringing 33 each 55gal bbl of hydraulic oil to our facility in New Mexico. We do not normally stock more than 1 55gal bbl of oil but we are doing oil changes for all of our hydraulic units. What kind of secondary containment is required in New Mexico while we have this product on site?

    • Karensays:
      08/06/2018 at 2:26 pm Reply

      Hi Scott,

      I’m happy to try to help. This situation is subject to EPA’s Stormwater and SPCC regulations if there is a potential for an oil spill from your facility to reach navigable waters and cause a sheen on the water’s surface or adjoining shorelines. Those rules require you to identify potential spill hazards and to establish plans, procedures and best practices to prevent releases. The regulations do not demand specific BMPs, but secondary containment devices are a well-recognized BMP for keeping spills in check.

      The SPCC rule applies to facilities that use or can store over 1,320 gallons of oil above ground or 42,000 gallons underground. When you calculate whether the rule applies to your site, you must include containers and oil-filled equipment that can hold at least 55 gallons of oil. In your case, the 33 drums of oil equal 1,815 gallons on top of the capacity for oil in your hydraulic units.

      The SPCC rule describes two types of secondary containment: general and specific. (Read more in our article here: https://www.newpig.com/expertadvice/shedding-light-on-spccs-secondary-containment-requirements/). All bulk containers (those able to hold at least 55 gallons of oil) must have specific containment that is capable of “addressing a major container failure.”

      General secondary containment rules require facilities to address the most likely discharges and to have a plan to handle those. For example, if a site identifies that bulk unloading of fuel into a storage tank could create the potential to spill 50 gallons, the facility might choose to provide secondary containment in this area and/or have spill kits readily available to clean up the spill before it can reach a drain or waterway.

      Like the Stormwater rule, the SPCC rule does not specify the use of particular types of containment systems or devices. That is up to you based on your situation. If you will be making oil changes periodically, it might make sense to dedicate a storage area for the drums with an impervious floor and containment walls, or to purchase secondary containment pallets or decks. If this maintenance is infrequent, temporary secondary containment solutions, such as collapsible pools, might be a better fit. Just be sure to include in your plans both a description of your secondary containment system and your rationale for choosing it.

      Thank you for asking this question. Feel free to follow up if you need more information.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *