EPA Spill Prevention, Containment and Countermeasure Requirements

SPCC Compliance Deadline for Farmers

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY – The deadline for farmers to comply with federal SPCC requirements is May 10, 2013. However, Congress recently passed legislation prohibiting the EPA from enforcing the SPCC requirements as it applies to farmers during the current fiscal year that ends on September 30, 2013. As a result, farmers are still required to comply with SPCC by May 10, but will not be cited by the EPA for noncompliance during the enforcement prohibition period.

EPA WILL NOT ENFORCE MAY 10, 2013 COMPLIANCE DEADLINE FOR FARMERS 

The U.S. EPA compliance deadline for farmers to comply with federal SPCC requirements is May 10, 2013. However, Congress recently passed legislation earlier this year that prevents the EPA from enforcing the SPCC requirements against farmers through September 30, 2013. This means that although farmers are still required to comply with SPCC regulations by the EPA deadline, no enforcement action can be taken against farmers who are not in compliance by May 10.

The temporary enforcement ban has put farmers in a legal limbo of sorts. However, it is unlikely the EPA will retroactively enforce SPCC requirements against those farmers who are not in compliance by May 10 once the agency gets its regulatory enforcement powers back beginning October 1. In the meantime, Congress is considering a number of amendments that would delay, reduce or eliminate altogether SPCC requirements for farmers. It is too early to tell if any of these efforts on behalf of famers will be passed by Congress.

There is nothing in the federal regulations that prevent marketers from continuing to supply farm tanks that are not in compliance with SPCC regulations.

The following is some general information that marketers can provide to their farm customers that will move them on the path to compliance:

When is the SPCC deadline for farm tanks?

The deadline for farmers to comply with SPCC regulations is May 10. 2013. However, Congress has recently passed legislation that prevents the EPA from enforcing SPCC regulations until October 1, 2013.

What is considered a farm under SPCC?

Under SPCC, a farm is: “a facility on a tract of land devoted to the production of crops or raising of animals, including fish, which produced and sold, or normally would have produced and sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during a year.”

Is my farm covered by SPCC?

If a farm meets all the following criteria, then SPCC regulations apply:

  • Stores, transfers, uses or consumes oil or oil products, such as diesel fuel, gasoline, kerosene, lube oil, hydraulic oil, adjuvant oil, crop oil, vegetable oil or animal fat; and
  • Stores more than 1,320 gallons in aboveground containers (count all containers with a capacity of 55 gallons or more) or more than 42,000 gallons in USTs.

If my farm is covered by SPCC, what should I do? 

The EPA requires you to prepare and implement an SPCC Plan. Many farmers will need to have their Plan certified by a Professional Engineer (“PE”). However, you may be eligible to self-certify your amended Plan without the aid of a PE if:

  • Your farm has a total oil storage capacity between 1,320 and 10,000 gallons in aboveground containers, and the farm has a good spill history (as described in the SPCC rule), you may prepare and self-certify your own Plan. (However, if you decide to use certain alternate measures allowed by the federal SPCC Rule, you will need a PE.)
  • Your farm has storage capacity of more than 10,000 gallons or has had an oil spill you may need to prepare an SPCC Plan certified by a PE.

What information will I need to prepare an SPCC Plan for my farm?

  • A list of the oil containers at the farm by parcel (including the contents and location of each container);
  • A brief description of the procedures that you will use to prevent oil spills. For example, steps you use to transfer fuel from a storage tank to your farm vehicles that reduce the possibility of a fuel spill;
  • A brief description of the measures you installed to prevent oil from reaching water.
  • A brief description of the measures you will use to contain and cleanup an oil spill to water; and
  • A list of emergency contacts and first responders.

What spill prevention measures are required to be in my SPCC plan?

  • Use containers suitable for the oil stored. For example, use a container designed for flammable liquids to store gasoline;
  • Identify contractors or other local personnel who can help you clean up an oil spill;
  • Provide overfill prevention for your oil storage containers. You could use a high-level alarm or audible vent or establish a procedure to fill containers;
  • Provide effective, sized secondary containment for bulk storage containers, such as a dike or a remote impoundment. The containment must be able to hold the full capacity of the container plus possible rainfall. The dike may be constructed of earth or concrete. A double-walled tank may also suffice;
  • Provide effective, general secondary containment to address the most likely discharge where you transfer oil to and from containers and for mobile refuelers, such as fuel nurse tanks mounted on trucks or trailers. For example, you may use sorbent materials, drip pans or curbing for these areas; and
  • Periodically inspect and test pipes and containers. You should visually inspect aboveground pipes and inspect aboveground containers following industry standards. You must “leak test” buried pipes when they are installed or repaired. EPA recommends you keep a written record of your inspections.

Where can I get more information?

Please view here or call the EPA Oil Information Center at (800) 424-9346. Farmers should also contact their local farm bureau or co-op for more information.

Finally, many farmers are under the mistaken belief that their fuel supplier is responsible for bringing their farm tanks into compliance with SPCC. This is not the case. The EPA rule requires the “owner or operator of the facility” (in this case the farm) to comply with SPCC. Of course, if the tank located at the farm is a skid tank owned by the fuel supplier, then the responsibility for SPCC compliance could arguably reside with the supplier and not the farmer – unless responsibility for compliance is assigned to the farmer through a supply contract or other written agreement in which case the farmer will not likely remain a customer for long.

But, the general standard for the industry is for skid tank owners to make their tanks fully compliant with all regulations before deploying them for service in the field. It is also important to note there is no specific delivery prohibition in the federal regulations preventing marketers from placing product in a farm tank that is not SPCC compliant. The farmer remains legally responsible for spills from the tank not caused by the negligence of the supplier.

PMAA CONTACT: Mark S. Morgan, Regulatory Counsel – mmorgan@pmaa.org

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