An SPCC Plan for Farmers
Wish you could have a Q&A on SPCC Plans for farmers with a real expert?
Now you can!
So, what is an SPCC Plan?
The EPA’s goal in requiring SPCC Plans is to prevent oil spills into US waters. SPCC stands for Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure.
Why do farmers need to know about this?
Under the current regulations, farmers with more than 1,320 gallons of on-farm fuel storage must prepare and implement an SPCC Plan. Farmers with more than 10,000 gallons of on-farm fuel storage must also prepare and implement a plan, but these plans must be certified by a professional engineer.
How do I know if I need one?
When calculating your total on-farm storage, you should include all above-ground tanks that are larger than 55 gallons. You should not include containers used for residential heating, milk product containers, pesticide application equipment, fuel tanks on equipment, farm nurse tanks, or permanently closed containers.
What do the SPCC Plans require?
The SPCC rules require the use of secondary containment to help prevent oil from reaching the water. Secondary containment must provide the entire capacity of the largest container plus room for precipitation. Secondary containment must be “sufficiently impervious to contain oil,” meaning you can use concrete walls/floors, steel dikes, double wall steel tanks, synthetic liners or compacted clay soil.
In addition to secondary containment for stationary containers, the plans should include measures to prevent and contain spills that occur while oil is being transferred, measures for cleaning up and reporting spills, as well as periodic inspections.
What do you need to do with a completed plan?
SPCC Plans are not submitted to the EPA, but are kept on-site. That doesn’t mean that you can wait until to EPA shows up to have one. If you need one, and you don’t have one, the fines can be pretty steep. Plans must be reviewed every 5 years.
So, what if I don’t do it?
Violations of these rules can result in fines. Violations include failure to have or implement a plan as well as failure to report or clean up a spill. Fines can be as high as $37,500 per day for violations.
Recent regulation is trying to relax these rules for farmers. Included in the continuing resolution passed in March was language that extends the compliance date for farmers to September 30, 2013. Until that time, the EPA cannot use funds to implement the rule on farmers. On May 9, the Senate approved an amendment to the WRDA (Water Resources Development Act). The new legislation would provide an exemption from the SPCC rule for farmers with no single tank larger than 10,000 gallons. It would also allow farmers to self-certify their SPCC Plan if they have less than 42,000 gallons of fuel. In June the House passed Amendment #54 to the Farm Bill, which has exemptions similar to those in the WRDA Amendment.
Even if these amendments are approved and you aren’t required by law to do this, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If you do not have a containment system, and you have a spill, what will you say when the local media show up and want to know what you are going to do about the oil you just unleashed on their town?
How do I get started?
- You can complete a Tier I SPCC Plan online for free through the EPA or the Asmark Insititute.
- If you are in search of a professional engineer in your area, FamilyFarms Group may be able to help. We have a list of recommended professional engineers who have completed farm SPCC plans.
Written by: Legal Counsel, Michelle Mellendorf