Who Mandates Containment for Fuel and Oil Fields?

When you first begin researching and planning for secondary containment on an oil field, it’s necessary to start at the top and work downward in terms of regulations. Many people outside the oil industry wrongfully assume that the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations are the only rules to remember when dealing with containment. However, these rules set by the EPA are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to regulations on hazardous waste storage. Missing out on a whole set of regulations from a specific level of agency can leave you redesigning your entire system after its installed and already in use. Save yourself thousands of dollars by making sure you check for new regulations and changing rules at every level of administration.

Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the primary administrator of hazardous waste regulations, especially when it comes to protecting federally important waterways. They can override other laws and regulations set for oil and fuel containment and handling if the rule would have a serious enough effect on the environment. It’s not surprising then that the bulk of attention given to secondary containment mandates falls on the SPCC from the EPA. This set of regulations is quite long and confusing, but it outlines exactly what the federal government expects oil and gas producers to do. Failing to meet these regulations will generate some of the largest fines you can expect to pay, so make sure to know them well.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Since there are plenty of workers on the oil field and in processing facilities, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration also gets involved at the federal level. They have the power to mandate secondary containment measures for materials like oil and gas due to their potential to harm human health. Aside from any toxic or long-term exposure risks, leaks from oil and gas equipment can directly cause injuries due to pressure or falling debris. This means that many OSHA regulations regarding oil and gas handling combine both containment and active safety measures together. Make sure to comb through for rules applying specifically to containment areas, such as the need for safety rails along walls and berms accessed by workers, to avoid a costly OSHA fine after an injury.

State Environmental and Public Health Agencies

After the federal level of regulation, oil and gas processing and storing facilities, like oil fields, are then regulated by the state. Each state sets various laws about secondary containment, although many simply fall back on the EPA’s regulations and don’t set any extra mandates. States can change rapidly in how they want oil and gas handled, so stay on top of this level of regulation in particular. Some states can also approve very short windows to comply with the new regulations and offer little help for people who were unaware of the changes. Don’t rely on notifications from state agencies to update you on the latest regulations, especially if the changes are made in the interest of public health.

County Level Regulations

Finally, you may still have to deal with county level regulations as well, depending on where you choose to build an oil field. Many counties, with rich oil deposits, are happy for the economic stimulus and will either pass no extra regulations on containment or even allow for looser containment rules than the EPA. Keep in mind that lax local regulations don’t allow you to circumvent any federal or state rules that apply to your facility. When in doubt, comply with a regulation that’s in question rather than hoping it will go in your favor.

Just getting copies of all the relevant regulations regarding your new oil field project can feel daunting. However, taking the time to comply to every rule for containment pays off for the entire lifespan of the oil field. Each prevented or controlled spill can represent hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings, and each satisfied regulation still saves you thousands on alterations and fines. If you’re not sure what liners will meet your local regulations on oil and gas containment, feel free to contact us here at BTL Liners. We can supply you with a liner to match the strictest storage and containment rules.


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