SALEM — If your farm has more than 1,320 gallons of oil or oil-derived product on your farm, get to a professional engineer to set up a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Program before it is too late.
Ohio’s farmers have until May 10 to comply with the U.S. EPA’s rule on the prevention and mitigation of oil spills on farms.
Known as the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) program, the rule will require many farms to develop a plan to comply with the U.S. EPA regulations on storing more than 1,320 gallons of oil or fuel. The farms will have to self-certify or be certified through a professional engineer.
Most family-sized farms that store less than 1,320 gallons of oil, diesel, or any oil-derived product above ground will not have to certify under the program.
The purpose of the rule is protect the nation’s waterways from spills of oil, diesel fuel, gasoline and other lubricants and products.
Under the rule, if a farm “stores, uses, or consumes oil or oil products” and stores more than 1,320 gallons in above-ground containers or more than 42,000 gallons in buried containers, that farm will have to develop an SPCC plan. These plans are to contain information including an inventory of all containers with contents and location, an outline of spill prevention measures in place and a description of spill mitigation measures.
According to the U.S. EPA, they have delayed the date of compliance for the SPCC regulations in order to give farms and other oil handling sectors sufficient time to fully understand the requirements and to make modifications to their facilities and plans.
The most recent delay in compliance date exclusively for farms was largely driven by the unusual weather conditions in the past couple of farming seasons and the need for additional outreach regarding the SPCC requirements tailored to the farming sector.
“Farms have been covered by the SPCC requirements since 1974,” according to the U.S. EPA in a written statement.
“With respect to enforcement, the agency generally focuses on those facilities likely to cause environmental consequences if there is a discharge to the waters of the U.S. However, if a facility, including a farm, has a discharge to waters of the U.S., EPA may visit to determine compliance with regulatory requirements designed to prevent a discharge,” the EPA statement continued.
However, farmers that have over 10,000 gallons of storage on their farms, or farms with a history of spills, will need to have an SPCC plan certified by a professional engineer.
The rule has been on the books in several forms for years. An update in 2006 came with a delay until next month’s deadline for agricultural enforcement. Many types of facilities such as those at energy companies, marinas and freight carriers also maintain SPCC plans.
The EPA does not make it easy to determine their exact fine structure, but the penalty for simply not having a plan when one should be in place is $1,500. Once an inspector is on the farm or other facility, there is a range of other infractions of the SPCC rule that could come into play.
Spill prevention, control and countermeasure rule applies to a farm that:
Stores, transfers, uses or consumers oil or oil products, such as diesel fuel, gasoline, lube oil, hydraulic oil, adjuvant oil, crop oil, vegetable oil or animal fat; and
Stores more than 1,320 U.S. gallons in total of all above ground containers (containers with 55 gallons or greater storage capacity) or more than 42,000 gallons in completely buried containers; and
Could reasonably be expected to discharge oil to navigable waters of the U.S. or adjoining shorelines, such as lakes, rivers and streams.
If the oil storage capacity on the farm is less than 10,000 gallons total, a farmer can file a self plan and do regular self-inspections and still be compliance. The farmer does not have to file the plan with the EPA. If over 10,000 gallons in total oil storage capacity, farmers will need a professional engineer to certify the plan.
If a farm is out of compliance of SPCC regulations and is checked by the EPA or has a spill, the retailer that filled tank is not liable. The EPA considers the oil tank owner or operator responsible for the lack of compliance.