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Dispelling Myths about EPA's Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule

By EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks

I want to dispel some myths about the SPCC rule, pass on some useful news about EPA’s commonsense approach to this program, and encourage agriculture producers to contact EPA with any and all SPCC questions.

Oil and water shouldn’t mix. Oil spills, large and small, have caused Americans substantial economic losses. They damage waterways and cost communities real money for cleanups. SPCC plans both stop spills from happening and speed up the response should one happen.

Although pending legislation in the U.S. Congress could modify the regulations, owners and operators of certain oil-handling facilities, including farms, have been subject to EPA’s SPCC regulation since 1974.

Region 7 staff have conducted numerous meetings and provided compliance assistance to the agricultural community so that producers can meet their SPCC obligations in a timely fashion.  We have conducted outreach to farmers and the agribusiness community including the Kansas Livestock Association, Missouri Agribusiness Association, Agribusiness Association of Iowa, Nebraska Cooperative Producers, Kansas Farm Services Association, Nebraska Agribusiness Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau and others.

And the SPCC program recognizes that not all farm operations are the same. For example, if you do not store more than 1,320 gallons of oil or oil products on your farm in above ground containers 55 gallons or larger; or 42,000 gallons of oil or oil products in completely buried containers, you are not subject to the SPCC rules.

And if your farm has a total oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 and up to 10,000 gallons in above ground containers, and the farm has a good spill history (as described in the SPCC rule), you may prepare and self-certify your own plan. However, if you decide to use certain alternate measures allowed by the federal SPCC Rule, you will need a professional engineer.

If you are eligible to self-certify your plan, and no above ground container at your farm is greater than 5,000 gallons in capacity, then you may use the plan template that is available to download from EPA's website at: http://www.epa.gov/oem/content/spcc/tier1temp.htm

If your farm has storage capacity of more than 10,000 gallons, or has had an oil spill you may need to prepare an SPCC plan certified by a professional engineer.

To comply with Congress’ passage of the Continuing Resolution (P.L. 113-6), EPA did not use any Agency funds between May 10 and September 23 to inspect, seek information from, or otherwise investigate the SPCC compliance status of any owner or operator of a farm.  Region 7 promptly eliminated any SPCC questions from the CAFO multi-media screening checklist.  And the agency recently clarified that, absent a spill, it does not intend to take enforcement actions solely for failure of a farm to have an SPCC plan in place during that 180-day period.

To avoid confusion and get solid answers to any questions you might have, I strongly encourage you to contact EPA with any questions related to the SPCC rule. The EPA Region 7 contact is Mark Aaron who can be reached at (913) 551-7205 or aaron.mark@epa.gov, EPA Region 7, 11201 Renner Blvd., Lenexa, Kansas 66219.

Additional assistance to assist farmers is available at:
http://www.epa.gov/osweroe1/content/spcc/spcc_ag.htm
http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/spcc/index.htm

For information concerning cleanup requirements for oil contamination and spills in Region 7, which consists of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska contact:

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Emergency Response (515) 281-8694

Missouri Department of Natural Resources Emergency Response (573) 634-2436

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Emergency Response (785) 296-1679

Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (402) 471-2186

Karl Brooks is EPA Regional Administrator for Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and nine tribal nations.

 


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