EPA exempts milk from Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Rule

Dairy producers no longer need to include milk storage containers in calculation of total oil storage capacity for Clean Water Act regulations.

The Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations, in place since the 1970s, are intended to prevent damage to inland waters and shorelines of the United States. Many animal products including animal fats, milk and vegetable oils have been considered oils and their storage and handling have been subject to the SPCC rule. The Clean Water Act has required businesses storing over 1,320 gallons of oil to develop and implement plans on how to handle a spill.

On March 10, 2011 Administrator Lisa P. Jackson spoke before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture to dispel rumors that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was in support of including milk under the SPCC regulations. She stated “EPA has proposed, and is on the verge of finalizing, an exemption for milk and dairy containers. This exemption needed to be finalized because the law passed by Congress was written broadly enough to cover milk containers. It was our work with the dairy industry that prompted EPA to develop an exemption and make sure the standards of the law are met in a commonsense way. All of EPA’s actions have been to exempt these containers.”

On April 12, 2011 the EPA amended the SPCC rule to exempt milk, milk product containers and milk production equipment from the rule. This means that the facility does not need to include milk storage, piping and milk production equipment into the calculation of total oil capacity to determine if the facility is subject to SPCC. The EPA is also removing the compliance date requirements for the exempt containers. The exemption does not apply to fuel oil and other applicable oils stored on farms. Farms that store the regulatory threshold (1,320 gallons) of applicable oils are under the regulation of SPCC.

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