Spill prevention, control and countermeasures for farms

Farmers whose fuel oil storage capacity meet the EPA’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures program criteria have until May 10, 2013 to file their SPCC plan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures regulation is intended to prevent oil and oil products from reaching the waters of the U.S. and adjoining shorelines. The Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plan is the facility owner’s plan for preventing a spill and retaining the oil on site in case of a spill from aboveground oil storage tanks and containers. This regulation has been in existence since 1974 and was applicable to farms if they met the threshold oil storage capacity, and there was a reasonable expectation that a discharge could get to waters of the U.S. The farming industry was granted an extension to comply with this regulation. Currently, farmers who meet the SPCC criteria have until May 10, 2013 to update old plans or develop and implement new SPCC plans.

You will be expected to develop and implement an SPCC plan if your farm meets all the criteria listed below:

  • Stores or transfers oil or oil products such as gasoline, on and off-road diesel, hydraulic and lube oil, animal fats and vegetable oils, adjuvant oil, etc.
  • Stores more than 1,320 gallons in above ground tanks or 42,000 gallons below ground
  • In case of a spill, could reasonably be expected to discharge to a U.S. waterway or shoreline

In April of 2011 the EPA exempted all milk and milk product containers from the SPCC requirements therefore these planning and structural requirements do not include bulk tanks on dairy farms. For more information see the Michigan State University Extension News article on the SPCC exemption.

Farmers may self-certify their SPCC plan without the services of a professional engineer (PE) if they have less than 10,000 gallons total above ground oil storage capacity and have had no spills to the waters of the U.S. in the past three years. If no more than 5,000 gallons is stored in a single container, they may fill out the Tier I template which is available online.

Some of the information provided in an SPCC plan includes:

  • A list of oil containers on the farm and containment provided for them
  • A description of measures that will prevent oil from reaching surface waters
  • Clean up procedures if a spill should occur
  • A contact list in case of a spill including first responders
  • A five-year review and evaluation of their plan for changes and updates

Free training

To help farmers determine if the SPCC program is applicable to their farm and to help them meet the plan requirements, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is hosting a FREE webinar on Tuesday, March 26 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Take advantage of this free webinar before you get busy with preparations for the growing season. Registration for the webinar is available online. For more information on the webinar, contact Jennifer Acevedo at 517-335-3203.

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