Saturday, October 1, 2011

Deadline looms to comply with SPCC rule

Update:  On October 18, 2011, the EPA issued a final rule extending the November 10, 2011 compliance deadline for certain farms until May 10, 2013.  Review the Federal Register or consult an attorney to determine whether your farm must have a SPCC plan and by when.  The original article below was written before October 18, 2011 and did not take the rule revision into account.    

By November 10, 2011, many farms must have a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan in place.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has promulgated a rule under the Clean Water Act that requires all farms (and other industries) to provide secondary containment for oil-containing structures over a certain size.  To determine whether you must comply with the rule, answer the following questions:

  • Does my farm store more than 1,320 gallons of oil (or any related substance like diesel fuel, gasoline, hydraulic oil) above ground?  
  • Does my farm store more than 42,000 gallons of oil (or any related substance) in an underground storage tank (UST)? 

When calculating total gallonage, the EPA uses the "shell" of the container.  Thus, a 50,000 gallon UST that routinely stores 20,000 gallons of oil would still require an SPCC plan.  Using the shell method for calculating, if your farm answers "yes" to either question above, you need a SPCC plan.

An SPCC plan describes the spill prevention practices, drainage controls, personnel, equipment and resources necessary by the farm to prevent oil spills from reaching navigable waters. Each SPCC plan is unique to the facility, and will contain the following:
  • Operating procedures at the facility to prevent oil spills; 
  • Control measures (such as secondary containment) installed to prevent oil spills from entering navigable waters or adjoining shorelines; and 
  • Countermeasures to contain, cleanup, and mitigate the effects of an oil spill that has impacted navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. 
In addition, if your farm's above ground storage of oils exceeds 10,000 gallons, the SPCC plan will need to be certified by a Professional Engineer (PE).

This article should not be construed as legal advice.  Consult an attorney when determining whether your facility needs a SPCC plan.  


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