With the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico top of mind for many people, now is a good time to recall that on Nov. 5, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator signed a notice amending certain requirements of the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rules that removes an exemption for farms. The new regulations require some farmers to prepare and implement a plan to deal with oil spills on their farms by Nov. 10, 2010.

“The EPA Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rules date back to the 1972 Clean Water Act, which sought to prevent oil spills from certain aboveground and underground storage tanks,” says Roxanne Johnson, North Dakota State University Extension Service water quality associate. “Now in its third revision and extension, current regulations affect farmers who store, transfer, use or consume oil or oil products, plus farmers who could reasonably be expected to discharge oil into waters of the U.S. or adjoining shorelines.”

Not all farms are included in the new regulations. Farmers are subject to SPCC rules if they:

  • Have 1,320 gallons or more of oil product storage capacity above ground.
  • Have a buried oil product storage capacity of greater than 42,000 gallons.

The EPA classifies a farm as “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.”

“Farmers with underground fuel storage tanks with a capacity of more than 1,100 gallons but less than 42,000 gallons are regulated separately under state and federal laws,” says John Nowatzki, NDSU Extension agricultural machine systems specialist.

Certain exemptions affect which farmers are subject to SPCC regulations. Exemptions from SPCC regulations include:

  • Completely buried storage tanks subject to all the technical requirements of the underground storage tank regulations.
  • Containers with a storage capacity of less than 55 gallons.
  • Wastewater treatment facilities.
  • Permanently closed containers.
  •  Automotive power containers, such as fuel tanks on cars, trucks, tractors and other farm equipment.

More information.

Source: North Dakota State University