Coalition presses EPA on fuel-spill issue

 - February 7, 2007, 9:33 AM

Future EPA spill-containment requirements for airport fuel trucks remains an ambiguous subject. That puts FBOs and other fuel-service providers in a difficult position when it comes to laying out plans for their facilities. Despite some recent meetings with aviation interests, the EPA remains unclear on whether or not fuel trucks will be subject to so-called “secondary containment requirements.”

A coalition of trade associations, including the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), the Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the Airports Council International- North America (ACI- NA) and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), has been working with the EPA to address certain issues regarding its Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan requirements as they may apply to fuel management activities at airports. The Aviation Coalition has been successful in obtaining extensions of the plan revision and implementation deadlines. While the group has made progress on several fronts, it continues to seek revision of recent EPA interpretations suggesting that on-airport mobile refuelers are “mobile or portable storage containers” subject to the SPCC rule’s secondary containment requirements.   

On October 7, Craig Mattheissen, director of EPA’s oil spill program, acknowledged that the agency had failed to respond to white papers the coalition had submitted (at the agency’s request) last year on the mobile refueler issue. At a November 5 meeting, EPA officials said that when a fuel truck is “parked at the end of the day” it is subject to the original 1974 regulation, requiring secondary containment. The EPA also stated that whether or not containment is necessary for the daily operation of these trucks remains open for interpretation by the EPA, most likely by way of guidance rather than through regulation. The EPA said it intends to respond to the industry coalition’s white paper this month and expected to release its “guidance” on the issue sometime next summer.