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Aboveground Petroleum Storage Tank Program (APSA)

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Published on June 23, 2017. Last modified on September 12, 2018

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Aboveground Petroleum Storage Tank Program (APSA)

Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act

In 1989, the California Legislature found that in order to protect the state's people and natural resources from aboveground petroleum storage tank spills, an inspection program was necessary. The Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act (Act) became effective January 1, 1990. In general, the Act requires owners or operators of aboveground petroleum storage tanks to file a storage statement, pay a fee, and implement measures to prevent spills.

Who Is Subject to the Act?
Facilities that are subject to the Federal SPCC rule, or stores 1,320 gallons or more of petroleum, or has one or more tanks in an underground area (TIUGA). Section 25270.2(a)(1) -(7) of the Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act defines certain tanks not subject to the program.

What is the Definition of Petroleum?
"Petroleum" means crude oil or any fraction which is liquid at 60 degrees Fahrenheit temperature at normal atmospheric pressure. This includes petroleum based substances comprised of a complex blend of hydrocarbons, such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuels, residual fuel oils, lubricants, some petroleum solvents, and used oils. Petroleum does not include liquid propane gas (LPG).

What Does the Act Require?
The Act requires owners or operators of aboveground petroleum storage tank facilities to:

  • File a storage statement
  • Pay a facility fee, and
  • Prepare & implement a federal Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan.

Additional Resources

Resource Type Name of Resource Link to Resource
Website Cal Fire Certified Unified Program Agency Link to website


A: You are subject to APSA if your facility has 1,320 gallons or more of petroleum storage onsite. NOTE: This amount is determined by adding up the volumes of the petroleum storage containers onsite, not the amount of oil inside the containers. In other words, you add up the “shell capacity” of the storage containers. Also, do not include non-petroleum oils in your calculation. Although these oils may be regulated as a hazardous material they are not regulated under APSA.

A. APSA stands for the Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act and is the set of regulations that Monterey County CUPA is responsible for enforcing. APSA only applies to facilities that have over 1,320 gallons of petroleum oil onsite. Part of what APSA requires is the preparation of a SPCC Plan (which stands for Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure). It is a written plan intended to help prevent the release of petroleum oil to the environment.

The Federal EPA not only oversees Monterey County’s APSA program but also regulates the larger Federal SPCC program in general. They reserve the right to inspect any SPCC facility at any time. The Federal EPA, however, does not just look at facilities with petroleum oil. They regulate and inspect SPCC facilities with any type of oil (both petroleum and non-petroleum oils) if they total over 1,320 gallons.

SPCC stands for “Spill Prevention Containment and Countermeasure”. It is a plan that companies must create if they have 1,320 gallons of oil onsite. There are two important points to remember:

  • When calculating the amount of oil you have onsite you must use the size of the container, not the actual amount of oil you typically keep in the container. In other words, you must count the shell capacity of the container.
  • Also, you only count containers with a shell capacity of 55 gallons or greater. Containers with a capacity of less than 55 gallons do not count toward your 1,320 gallon threshold.


A. Yes. If your business is subject to APSA requirements you must submit a Tank Facility Statement at least once in the “Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act” section of CERS. After this document is uploaded at least once to CERS, you can satisfy this section’s requirements during annual re-submittals by either uploading a new Tank Facility Statement or by uploading a complete Emergency Response/Contingency Plan in CERS. Either method satisfies your APSA reporting requirements. NOTE: SPCC plans are never to be uploaded to CERS.

A: No. The Federal EPA can still regulate SPCC facilities and reserves the right to inspect them. Monterey County regulates the APSA program which includes SPCC plans.

A. An “aboveground storage tank” or “storage tank” means a tank that has the capacity to store 55 gallons or more of petroleum and that is substantially or totally above the surface of the ground.

A. For the purposes of APSA, a “tank facility” is defined as any combination of 55-gallon or greater aboveground storage containers or tanks, including any piping that is integral to the tank, that contains petroleum. Aboveground storage containers or tanks include oil-filled equipment (such as hydraulic systems/reservoirs and heat transfer systems) which have a petroleum storage capacity of 55 gallons or greater.

A. Storage capacity is the shell or design capacity of the aboveground tank. Although you may not always keep the tank full, it is the rated design or shell capacity of a tank that must be counted toward your 1,320 gallon threshold, not the amount of petroleum normally stored inside.

A. Yes, unless it is closed in a specific manner. If an aboveground storage tank is “empty” but has not been modified to prevent storage of a petroleum product, then this “empty” AST is still regulated under APSA. However, if the “empty” AST container meets the federal SPCC rule definition of “permanently closed,” it is not captured under APSA. To permanently close a tank, you must:

  • Remove all liquid and sludge from the container and connecting line
  • Disconnect all piping from the container and blank off
  • Close and lock all valves (except for ventilation valves)
  • Post a conspicuous sign on the container stating that it is a permanently closed container and note the date of closure.
Be sure to update your SPCC plan as necessary to reflect the status of all regulated tanks. If you decide to put the tank back into service in the future it would become fully regulated again as a petroleum storage tank immediately upon any amount of petroleum being placed into the tank, and all SPCC- related requirements apply at that time.


A. Yes, if they are 55 gallons or larger and used to store a waste petroleum product. The most common example is storage of waste oil. There are exceptions to this rule if your facility is a permitted hazardous waste treatment facility.

A. No. Only petroleum products that are liquid at ambient temperature and pressure are regulated under APSA. Propane and natural gas are not liquids at room temperature and ambient pressure and are therefore not regulated under APSA.

A.There is no APSA-specific definition of a farm. Section 52262 of the Food and Agricultural Code defines a “farm” as a place of agricultural production that has annual sales of agricultural products of $1,000 or more. Under APSA, farms are conditionally excluded from the APSA requirement for tank facilities to prepare an SPCC Plan. However, APSA-excluded farms are not exempt or excluded from regulation under federal SPCC rules. This means that even though Monterey County CUPA does not regulate your SPCC program, the Federal EPA still does. Specific information on the federal SPCC rule, including fact sheets for farms, can be found HERE

A. There are four types of APSA regulated facilities which are described below:
APSA Exempted Facilities
A tank facility located on a farm, nursery, logging site, or construction site, while still regulated under APSA, is conditionally exempt from the APSA requirement to prepare and implement a SPCC plan if:

  • no storage tank at the location exceeds 10,000 gallons, and
  • the cumulative storage capacity of the tank facility does not exceed 20,000 gallons.
These facilities are still subject APSA program fees, Tank Facility Statement/Business Plan submissions in CERS, and inspections. The operator of the tank system is also required to conduct and record daily inspections of the system. Because of this, many exempt facilities find it easier to simply complete a Qualified Facility template plan which can be self-certified. NOTE: Exemption from APSA does not exempt you from Federal EPA SPCC requirements. If you have over 1,320 gallons of any type of oil onsite (including non-petroleum oil) you are still required to prepare a SPCC for the Federal EPA.

Tier I Qualified Facilities
To meet the requirements of a Tier I Qualified Facility you must:
  • Have an aggregate shell capacity of 10,000 gallons or less
  • Have no single tank larger than 5,000 gallons
  • Within any 12-month period have had
    • No single discharge of oil to navigable water or adjoining shoreline exceeding 1,000 gallons; or
    • No two discharges of oil to navigable water or adjoining shoreline each exceeding 42 gallons
If all the requirements are met you can use the Tier I SPCC template and self-certify, rather than employing a Professional Engineer to certify the SPCC plan. To download a Tier I Plan template clickHERE

Tier II Qualified Facilities
Tier II Qualified Facilities are similar to Tier I Qualified Facilities except they have a single tank larger than 5,000 gallons. To meet the requirements of a Tier II Qualified Facility you must:
  • Have an aggregate shell capacity of 10,000 gallons or less
  • Have a single tank larger than 5,000 gallons
  • Within any 12-month period have had
    • No single discharge of oil to navigable water or adjoining shoreline exceeding 1,000 gallons; or
    • No two discharges of oil to navigable water or adjoining shoreline each exceeding 42 gallons
If all the requirements are met you can use the Tier II SPCC template and self-certify, rather than employing a Professional Engineer to certify the SPCC plan. To download a Tier II Plan template clickHERE

Non-Qualified Facilities
A facility that does not qualify as Tier I or Tier II must prepare a SPCC plan in accordance with good engineering practice. No specific format is required but the plan is required to be approved and stamped by a licensed engineer. As long as the Plan contains all the required 40 CFR elements, is facility-specific and is prepared in accordance with a good engineering practice, any format may be used.


A. Either a registered professional engineer (for a Non-Qualified facility) or the owner or operator (for a Qualified Tier I or Tier II facility) may certify a tank facility’s SPCC Plan and sign off on the plan’s five year review. A Qualified Facility must meet all the following criteria:

  • Have a total facility storage capacity that is 10,000 gallons or less; and
  • Within the past three years, have had no single discharge to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines exceeding 1,000 gallons or no two discharges to navigable water or adjoining shoreline each exceeding 42 gallons within any rolling twelve-month period over the past three years. NOTE: Storm drains that lead to the ocean are considered navigable waters.


A. Yes, if your facility meets the requirements of a Qualified Tier I or Tier II facility. Tier I and II facilities are described as follows:

Tier I Tier II
10,000 gallons or less of aggregate (total) aboveground storage capacity
Within any 12-month period, three years prior to Plan certification date, has had:
  • No single discharge of oil to navigable water (including storm drains) or adjoining shoreline exceeding 1,000 gallons; or
  • No two discharges of oil to navigable water (including storm drains) or adjoining shoreline each exceeding 42 gallons
No aboveground storage tank greater than 5,000 gallon capacity Has aboveground storage tank greater than 5,000 gallon capacity
Then…SPCC Plan Requirements:
Complete, self-certify and implement the SPCC Plan template (Appendix G to 40 CFR 112) in lieu of a full PE-certified Plan. To download a Tier I Plan template click HERE Prepare and implement a self-certified SPCC Plan in accordance with all applicable requirements of 40 CFR 112.6 and 112.7 and subpart B. To download a Tier II Plan template click HERE

A. SPCC Plans must be reviewed and certified every 5 years. The review must be documented with the review date and signed by the reviewer. The owner or operator can review the Qualified SPCC Plans (Tier I and Tier II). A licensed engineer must review and stamp the Non-Qualified Plans.

A. There are two triggers for SPCC Plan amendments by the facility: Technical changes and the five-year review.

  • Technical changes are any change to the facility, tanks, procedures, materials (e.g., type of petroleum), construction, design or maintenance that changes the facility's potential for oil release. Per 40 CFR 112.5, the Plan must be amended within six months of the. If your facility is classified as a Non-Qualified APSA facility, all technical amendments must be certified by a licensed Professional Engineer in accordance with 40 CFR 112.3(d).
  • The facility must conduct a review of the SPCC Plan at least once every five years. The facility is required to amend the Plan within six months following a review if a change is implemented. Unless the five-year review results in a technical change to the plan, a new PE certification is not required following a five-year review of a Non-Qualified Facility.


A. No, we do not do plan checks or approvals for SPCC plans. Installation, modification and repair of aboveground storage tanks are typically regulated by the local fire authority.

A. No. You are only required to submit a Tank Facility Statement in CERS. There is no requirement in APSA for a tank facility to submit or file its SPCC Plan itself. There is also no requirement in APSA for a tank facility’s SPCC Plan to be approved by Monterey County CUPA. NOTE: Do not upload your SPCC plan to CERS.

A. Bulk storage containers are required by 40 CFR 112.8(c)(6) to be routinely integrity tested. Depending upon the industry standard, integrity testing could range from a monthly and annual visual inspection to a very detailed series of physical tests (such as acoustic, ultrasonic, radiographic, etc.) of tank exterior and interiors by an industry standard-certified outside inspector. The federal SPCC rule leaves the type and frequency of these integrity tests to the facility and/or the Professional Engineer reviewing/certifying the SPCC Plan. The type and frequency of the tests, and the qualifications of the personnel conducting the tests, must be described in the SPCC Plan. Records of integrity testing must be kept for at least three years, with a copy of the last test kept on file for comparison purposes regardless of when the previous test was performed.

A. No. There is no specific requirement to elevate ASTs in the SPCC rule. Typically, the bottom of the tank must have adequate structural support and corrosion-protection. 40 CFR 112.8(c)(6) requires that the outside of the tank be inspected, including supports and foundations. That there must be some means to evaluate the underside of the AST to determine if it is leaking, and whether the tank supports are in good shape. This would not be possible if it is a single-walled tank sitting flush on the flooring surface. In some cases, depending on the tank, periodic internal inspections may be required.

A. Not necessarily. For example, a single dike may be used for a group of tanks or containers. Secondary containment for a co-located group of tanks or drums is required to contain the volume of the largest single tank within the group of tanks or drums plus sufficient freeboard to allow for precipitation (if exposed to rainfall). The dike or other containment system must also be sufficiently impervious to contain any discharged oil from escaping the containment area until cleanup can be completed.

A. No, not unless one of the following conditions apply to you:

  • Your business is a farm, nursery, logging site, or construction site and you have claimed the relevant exemption from APSA or;
  • Your site is a Non-Qualified facility and the certifying PE has required daily inspections as part of your SPCC.