Petroleum is regulated under the California Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act (APSA).  The following information is intended to assist Unified Program Agencies (UPA) and the regulated community on petroleum in accordance with the California Health and Safety Code (HSC), Division 20, Chapter 6.67

Disclaimer:  The information contained herein as a whole or any specific element of the information contained herein does not replace or substitute for any statutory or regulatory provisions, nor is the information contained herein a regulation in itself.  In the event of a conflict between the information contained herein and any statute or regulation, the information contained herein would not be controlling.  Furthermore, nothing contained herein should be considered legal advice nor be considered a substitute for seeking legal guidance in regard to compliance for any statutory or regulatory provision.  Thus, information contained herein does not impose legally binding requirements on the State, UPAs, or the regulated community, and might not apply to a particular situation based upon certain circumstances.

References cited herein are subject to change and information will be revised as necessary to reflect any relevant future statutory or regulatory amendments.  

APSA currently defines “petroleum” to mean crude oil, or a fraction thereof, that is liquid at 60°degrees Fahrenheit (F) temperature and 14.7 pounds per square inch absolute pressure (psi or normal atmospheric pressure at sea level) [HSC 25270.2(h)].

The “fraction thereof” refers to the various hydrocarbon components called ‘fractions’ that are separated by the fractional distillation of crude oil, essentially breaking apart hydrocarbons to produce other hydrocarbon based products, such as fuel oil, heavy gas oil, lubricating oil, diesel, heating oil, jet fuel, kerosene, naphtha, petrol, gasoline, etc.

In the original legislation of APSA, “crude oil or its fractions” was defined as crude petroleum or all products in liquid form derived from petroleum.  Based on the historical definition of “crude oil or its fractions” and the current definition of “petroleum,” APSA regulates petroleum oil, fractions of crude oil, and products derived from crude oil in liquid form.  APSA does not regulate petroleum or crude oil fractions in solid or gaseous form at 60°F and 14.7 psi.

No.  A minimum concentration or percentage is not stated in the definition of petroleum in APSA; therefore, it does not determine APSA applicability.  Similarly, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 40, Part 112 (Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule) does not address de minimis concentration in its definition of oil.

In the original legislation of APSA, a tank facility owner or operator was required to submit a storage statement to the State Water Resources Control Board, which included the disclosure of each tank exceeding 10,000 gallons in shell capacity and held a substance containing at least 5 percent of crude oil or its fractions (HSC 25270.6(a)).  The “5 percent of crude oil or its fractions” was removed from the tank facility statement reporting requirement as amended by Senate Bill 612 (Jackson, Statutes of 2015, Chapter 452).

Under APSA, the term “petroleum” means crude oil, or a fraction thereof, that is liquid at 60°F temperature and 14.7 psi. Under the federal SPCC rule, the term “petroleum oil” is not limited to a liquid at 60°F and 14.7 psi.  Under the federal SPCC rule, petroleum oil means petroleum in any form, including but not limited to crude oil, fuel oil, mineral oil, sludge, oil refuse, and refined products (40 CFR 112.2).  The federal SPCC rule does not address de minimis concentration in its definition of oil, other than the determination that the oil could be reasonably expected to be discharged into or upon navigable waters or adjoining shorelines in quantities that may be harmful, as described in 40 CFR 110.3 (violates water quality standards or causes a sheen, sludge or emulsion – referred to as the “sheen rule”).  More information on discharge to navigable waters in quantities that may be harmful or the “sheen rule” may be found in Section 2.6 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors.

The federal “sheen rule” does not exist in the APSA statute. The intent of APSA is to focus on implementation of federal SPCC requirements at facilities with “petroleum” as defined in APSA. Many petroleum products regulated under APSA will cause a sheen, sludge or emulsion.  There are instances, however, where some petroleum products do not cause a sheen, sludge or emulsion.  In those circumstances, to determine if a liquid meets the definition of petroleum under APSA, the chemical compound, ingredients, and manufacturing process need to be understood (refinery fraction or distillation vs. chemical synthesis).  For example, alcohols (such as ethanol or methanol) are manufactured via a set of chemical reactions/syntheses, which may even use crude oil or its fraction as a feedstock.  Therefore, because alcohols are not a fraction of crude oil, alcohols do not meet the definition of “petroleum” under APSA and are not regulated under APSA.  However, gasoline blends, which may include alcohol at varying concentrations, are subject to APSA as they contain petroleum oil (gasoline).

Other liquids with traces of petroleum may not be conventional petroleum products and should be determined on a case-by-case basis.  For example, oily wastewater from mopping an auto shop floor with traces of petroleum contaminants may not be petroleum under APSA.  However, a spent acid tank containing petroleum oil that is not miscible may be considered petroleum under APSA and, therefore, may also be regulated under APSA.  

Other oils, such as animal fat and vegetable oils, are regulated under the federal SPCC rule, but these other oils are not petroleum or a fraction of crude oil and are not regulated under APSA.  Refer to Section 2.2 of the SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors for more information on oil.  Also, the U.S. Coast Guard maintains a list of oils; however, the list does not contain all the oils subject to the federal SPCC rule.

Facilities must prepare an SPCC Plan that includes compliance with the federal definitions of oil and petroleum, and the federal “sheen rule.”  Therefore, a facility’s SPCC Plan may include oils that do not meet the definition of “petroleum” under APSA and should not be regulated under APSA.

Synthetic oil, including full synthetic oil and synthetic oil blends, derived from petroleum base oil (crude oil) is considered petroleum under APSA. The safety data sheet (SDS) may be reviewed for components of the synthetic oil and assist in determining whether it is derived from crude oil.

Under HSC 25270.4.5(a), APSA requires the owner or operator of a tank facility to prepare an SPCC Plan applying good engineering practices to prevent petroleum releases using the same format required by the federal SPCC rule.  The tank facility owner or operator is also required to implement their SPCC Plan by complying with the latest requirements of the federal SPCC rule. 

The CAL FIRE – Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is required under APSA to ensure consistency with federal enforcement guidance issued by federal agencies (HSC 25270.4.1(c)) and to adopt regulation that shall ensure consistency with the requirements for SPCC Plans under 40 CFR 112 (HSC 25270.4.1(d)) to the maximum extent feasible.

The owner or operator of a tank facility (or the certifying professional engineer (PE)) is responsible for identifying all applicable oil storage tanks or containers, including petroleum oils or petroleum products, that are handled or contained at their facility and addressing them in one SPCC Plan.  The owner or operator or certifying PE may use the “sheen rule” for consistency with the federal SPCC rule if there are specific petroleum products that are difficult to determine if it’s regulated under APSA. Owners and operators should ensure that SPCC Plans comply with all applicable federal and state requirements.

Examples of petroleum products that ARE regulated under APSA

Crude oil and crude oil fractions Used oil (petroleum based)

Motor fuels, including biofuel blends

  • Gasoline
  • Diesel fuel
  • Jet fuel
  • Aviation gasoline
  • Biodiesel (B100)1with petroleum, such as lubricity additive

Lubricating and cutting oils

  • Motor oil
  • Gear and spindle oils
  • Hydraulic oil
  • Cutting oil

Fuel oils/heating oils, including biofuel blends

  • Distillate and residual oils
  • Kerosene
  • Clarified oil

Petroleum spirits

  • White spirits (Stoddard solvents/mineral spirits)
  • Naphtha
Mineral and insulating oils Recovered oil from oil-water separation process

Examples of products that ARE NOT regulated under APSA

100% Biodiesel (B100)1without petroleum Waxes
100% Renewable diesel (R100) Flocculent used in wastewater/water treatment

Petroleum products that are not liquid at 60°F and 14.7 psi

  • Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), including propane
  • Liquefied natural gas (LNG)
  • Hot mix asphalt (HMA) or asphalt cement
  • Petroleum greases, including axle, engine and gear greases

Animal fat/vegetable oil

  • Camphor oil
  • Lanolin
  • Pine oil
  • Rosin oil
  • Turpentine
  • Palm oil
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Fish oil

1 Verify the composition/information on ingredients listed on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). If the B100 fuel does not contain petroleum, such as lubricity additives, then the B100 fuel is not subject to APSA. If the B100 fuel contains petroleum, including lubricity additive, then the B100 fuel is subject to APSA.

Contact Us

OSFM 'CUPA' Program