Jump to main content.

Contact Us

Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule and Milk

On April 18, 2011, EPA published a final rule amending the SPCC regulations to exempt milk and milk product containers, associated piping and appurtenances. EPA believes that certain specific construction and sanitation standards and requirements address the prevention of oil discharges in quantities that may be harmful. The capacity of the exempt milk and milk product containers, piping and appurtenances should not be included in a facility's total oil storage capacity calculation to determine if the facility is subject to SPCC. The Agency is also removing the compliance date requirements for the exempt containers.

Regulation: Oil Pollution Prevention; Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule - Final Amendments (PDF) (9 pp, 212K, about PDF)

Fact Sheet: Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures (SPCC) Final Rule - Exemption for Milk and Milk Product Containers, Associated Piping and Appurtenances (PDF) (2 pp, 51K, about PDF)

Frequent Questions

Question: Why did EPA regulate milk in the first place?
All kinds of oils, including animal fats and vegetable oils, have been considered oils under the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule based on the legislative definition of "oil" in the Clean Water Act. Milk is considered an oil and its storage and handling have been subject to the SPCC rule, which is intended to prevent damage to the inland waters and shorelines of the United States.

Question: Is milk currently regulated by EPA under SPCC?
During EPA's rulemaking efforts, we provided extensions to revise SPCC Plans. EPA also delayed the SPCC compliance date by which a facility must address milk and milk product containers until the Agency could issue this final rule.

Question: What action is EPA taking for milk and milk products?
EPA is amending the SPCC rule to exempt milk and milk products containers and associated piping and appurtenances from the SPCC requirements. The Agency is also removing the compliance date requirements for the exempt containers.

Question: What milk and milk products are covered by the exemption?
The exemption will cover all containers, piping and appurtenances of milk and milk products. For example, milk products include cheeses, yogurts and ice cream. Additionally, transfers and milk handling associated with these containers and appurtenances and exempt from the SPCC requirements.

Question: Are all milk farms and milk producers exempt?
The exemption is for all milk and milk product containers, piping and appurtenances, but does not exempt containers that store other oils, such as petroleum oil at dairies, milk producers and milk product manufacturing facilities. These facilities will not have to account for, or address the exempt milk and milk products containers in their SPCC Plans. As a result of this exemption, some facilities may either be no longer subject to the SPCC rule or eligible for streamlined requirements as qualified facilities.

Question: What is the basis for the exemption?
EPA is finalizing this exemption because we believe that milk production is already subject to other standards and requirements that will help prevent spills.

Question: Is there any public health risk created by this exemption?
No. Milk and milk product containers, piping and appurtenances are subject to regulatory standards and requirements for safe human consumption. These standards also serve to prevent discharges to waters of the U.S.

Question: Why did the milk container exemption take so long to finalize?
EPA started developing an exemption when the issue was raised by the milk industry, which led to the 2009 proposed rule. Since then, we have been completing the steps required to finalize a rule, including soliciting and considering public input, evaluating the impact of the rule, and making final decisions on the rule.

Question: Does this rulemaking only address milk and milk products?
Yes. This rulemaking does not exempt any other non-petroleum or petroleum based oil from SPCC requirements. EPA developed this rule for milk and milk products because they are subject to certain specific construction and sanitation standards and requirements that also serve to prevent discharges to waters of the U.S.

Question: What should I do if milk, milk products, or other oils are spilled in significant quantities (such as from a tanker or storage facility) into an inland waterway or shoreline?
You must report the spill to the National Response Center (NRC) at 800-424-8802 or 1-202-426-2675. The NRC is the federal government's centralized reporting center, which is staffed 24 hours per day by U.S. Coast Guard personnel.


Contact the Emergency Response webmaster to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

Jump to main content.