There’s No Place Like Maine When It Comes to Spill Reporting Requirements

Spill reporting requirements for hazardous materials in general are complicated, and Maine’s are like no other states’ requirements.  Spill reporting requirements in Maine have significantly lower thresholds, however with some planning a company can qualify for reduced reporting requirements if certain conditions are met.

Under federal spill reporting requirements, a company has to report a spill if:

  • ○ the material spilled is on the list of Hazardous Substances (40 CFR 302.4) or list of Extremely Hazardous Substances (40 CFR 355, Appendix A); and
  • ○ the quantity spilled is in excess of the Reportable Quantity (RQ) which are found on the 302.4 and 355 Lists; and
  • ○ the material spilled was released within a 24 hour period and into the environment (outside of a building or into a drain).

Under Chapters 800 and 801 of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations, a company is required to report a spill if the material spilled contains a chemical that is on the Maine Hazardous Matter list (which is the same as the federal Hazardous Substances list).  However, any amount (of Hazardous Matter) spilled is required to be immediately reported to the Maine Department of Public Safety (who will forward the notification to the Maine DEP).  It doesn’t matter where the spill occurred, whether inside a building or within secondary containment, spill reporting is still required.

However, if a company prepares a Spill Prevention Control and Cleanup Plan for Hazardous Matter (HM SPCC Plan) in accordance with Title 38 Maine Revised Statutes §1318-C, then spill reporting is not required unless the spilled quantity is greater than the RQ (inside or outside of a building) or if any amount was spilled outside the scope of the HM SPCC Plan.  The HM SPCC Plan should not be confused with the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Plan for petroleum (SPCC Plan).  That SPCC Plan pertains only to petroleum, not to Hazardous Matter.

Some of the advantages of preparing an HM SPCC Plan are:

  • + all of the Hazardous Matter included in the plan are subject to the reduced spill reporting requirements;
  • + components of the HM SPCC Plan are very similar to those in a Hazardous Waste Contingency Plan (required for all Large Quantity Generators of hazardous waste), so one plan may be prepared to meet both requirements; and
  • + the scope of the plan can be adjusted to only cover products containing hazardous matter that have a greater chance of being spilled and/or to cover certain production/storage areas within the company where spills have a greater tendency of occurring.

Some of the disadvantages of preparing a HM SPCC Plan are:

  • – the plan must include all Hazardous Matter that you want subject to reduced spill reporting requirements; and
  • – for each Hazardous Matter listed in the plan:
    • 1. the amount of Hazardous Matter within the product that exceeds the RQ must be calculated; and
    • 2. the general response and clean-up protocols by Hazardous Matter or hazard class are also required. This can require a lot of work looking at safety data sheets to be sure each Hazardous Matter is listed in the plan.

The best route to take may not always be the yellow brick road. It will be dependent upon the frequency of spills (containing Hazardous Matter) occurring, and the quantity of products (containing Hazardous Matter) that you would like to see covered in the plan. 

For more information on federal and Maine spill reporting requirements, consider attending our next Maine Hazardous Waste and Universal Waste Training session which is scheduled for November 15, 2017, or contact Mike Rioux, CHMM at 207-591-7000 x13 for your specific HM SPCC needs.