Will You Be Ready When Disaster Strikes?

Justin Christensen |

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Imagine what state people, businesses and our environment would be in if emergency response teams and disaster relief organizations arrived on scenes not knowing what to do next. The thought is almost incomprehensible. It is also immediately apparent how having no plan or an inadequate plan very quickly elevates a situation from bad to worse.

No one hopes for things to go wrong – however, being prepared can help minimize the severity when they do.

A Facility Response Plan (FRP) is identified as a farm or facility’s plan of action to respond to a worst-case scenario of spilled oil. It is one of two sets of requirements mandated by the EPA’s Oil Pollution Prevention Regulation, the first being the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan.

Who Is Required to Submit an FRP?

Under the Clean Water Act, as amended by the Oil Pollution Act, any facility that potentially could cause “substantial harm” or “significant and substantial harm” to the environment by spilling oil into or on navigable waters is obligated to complete and submit a Facility Response Plan.

Determining if a facility falls into either of these two categories is ascertained using a self-selection process or by an EPA Regional Administrator. Factors that are taken into consideration include: oil storage capacity, lack of secondary containment, spill history, type of transfer operations and proximity to drinking-water intakes, fish, wildlife and other sensitive environments.

What Must an FRP Include?

As defined by the EPA, all Facility Response Plans must:

  • Correspond with the National and Area Contingency Plans
  • Identify a qualified individual who is authorized to execute removal measures, and who is available to communicate immediately with proper federal authorities and responders.
  • Identify and confirm availability of resources to remove, as extensively feasible, a worst-case oil spill
  • Outline testing, training, unplanned drills, and response actions of individuals at facility or on vessel
  • Be updated at regular intervals
    • Be resubmitted for approval each time there is a significant change

They must also include the following key elements:

  • Emergency Response Action Plan that provides for both planning and action and is easily accessible as a stand-alone document
  • Facility details – name, type, location, owner and operator information
  • Emergency alert, personnel, equipment and evacuation information
  • Identification and analysis of potential spill hazards and previous spills
  • Dialogue of small, medium and worst-case scenario spills and response actions
  • Explanation of spill identification procedures and equipment
  • Detailed execution plan for response, containment and disposal
  • Explanation and documentation of in-house inspections, practices, drills and response training
  • Drawings of facility site, drainage and evacuation plan
  • Security measures such as alarms, guards, locks, lighting, cut-off valves, etc.
  • Response plan coversheet

Consequences for Non-Compliance 

In conjunction with the SPCC Plan, non-compliance of FRP requirements can result in fines and penalties. Violations occur in the areas of: SPCC/FRP, Discharge and Failure to Notify. Administrative fines can range from $16,000 per violation or $16,000 per day to a maximum of $177,500. Judicial Enforcement Actions and Spill Penalties can be as high as $37,500 per day of violation and criminal penalties can also be applied if the situation is deemed negligent or knowing.

If you have yet to prepare your Facility Response Plan or need assistance in updating your existing plan to meet compliance, contact your fuel distributor. Through their value added professional service, they will help you understand the regulations and ensure necessary documentation is in place. No one can predict the unexpected, however, working with your fuel distributor is one plan that will help you to prepare for it.