EPA rule now requires spill prevention compliance for agriculture operationsWritten by Saige Albert
The meeting was held in Cheyenne on Feb. 27 and 28.
Kennedy said there was some confusion by producers as to when plans were required to be in place.
“The rule was revised in 2002, and farms were exempted until Nov. 10, 2011,” explained Kennedy. “There is some confusion over compliance, because operations that started after Aug. 17, 2002 were exempted until May 2013.”
Compliance with the rule
Operations with more than 1,320 gallons of oil products are required by the rule to have a SPCC plan and to perform monthly tank inspections. Kennedy reminded producers to make sure they include all oil products when totaling the number of gallons of product that are subject to the rule on their property.
“Any product that makes a sheen when dropped on water counts,” said Kennedy. “Crop oil concentrate, diesel tanks and an irrigation well or waste oil all count.”
While oils that are in equipment don’t count, there is a special provision requiring all mobile refuelers, meaning fuel tanks in the back of trucks, with over 55-gallon capacity count.
“Anything in a container at or about 55 gallons is counted toward the 10,000-gallon limit,” Kennedy noted. “Any container under 55 gallons doesn’t count.”
Along with having an SPCC plan, producers are required to document monthly inspections using a checklist, and Kennedy added that regular inspections of tanks are logical.
“Think about how much you have invested in a 10,000 gallon tank of diesel,” said Kennedy. “It makes sense to check them out monthly, and it’s probably a good idea.”
Each tank is also required to have a secondary containment system with a capacity of 110 percent of the largest tank to accommodate any potential spills.
Kennedy added that if producers do have a spill, it is necessary to report to four entities, including the National Response Center, Regional EPA Office, State Emergency Planning Committee and the Local Emergency Planning Committee.
“The threshold for reportable spills is 42 gallons three times a year or one spill of 1,000 gallons,” added Kennedy.
Creating a plan
The type of SPCC plan required by each operation depends on the amount of product subject to the rule that is present on the property.
Operation with less than 10,001 gallons of oil on their property have the option to self-certify a SPCC plan, and the Asmark Institute provides an online tool at asmark.org/mySPCC to develop a plan.
In creating an SPCC plan, Kennedy noted that there are two tiers of self-certification. Tier I includes operations that do not have a single tank with 5,000-gallon capacity or more, while Tier II represents producers with one tank over 5,000 gallons.
“If you have more than 10,000 gallons of product subject to the rule, you must have a plan certified by a professional engineer,” explained Kennedy, who encouraged producers to shop around when looking for an engineer. “Prices range from $1,200 to $8,000 to create a plan.”
“The only time the rule will be actively enforced is if you actually have a spill,” added Kennedy. “If that spill gets reported, the EPA will ask if you have a plan, and if you don’t, you will be subject to a fine of $37,500 per day. It is worth taking an hour or two to put a plan in place.”
Spill prevention has long history
According to Wyoming Ag Business Association Executive Director and Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission Director Keith Kennedy, spill prevention control and countermeasures (SPCC) have been in place for nearly 40 years.
“SPCC came into being when the Clean Water Act was enacted in 1973,” explains Kennedy. “Petroleum jobbers that have delivered fuel to ag operations have had to comply with SPCC since then.”
In 2002, the EPA revised the rule. After nearly 10 months of litigation, the rule requiring farms to also comply with spill control measures was published in the Federal Register, though farms were exempted until Nov. 10, 2011.
“The only operations who got a “get out of jail free” card were those who started after Aug. 17, 2002,” explains Kennedy, adding that they must comply by May 10, 2013. “After the May deadline, it will be very unlikely that you can get a new fuel tank unless you have an SPCC plan.”