While there are many farmsteads or acreages that this law doesn’t apply to, there are still several producers that need to be thinking about how to address the spill prevention, control and countermeasures program (SPCC). The goal of the program is to prevent oil and fuel spills from getting into waters of the United States. A key element of this program calls for producers and other facilities to have an oil spill prevention plan which is called an SPCC plan. Under the plan, it defines a farm or facilities on a tract of land devoted to the production of crops or raising animals that when sold equate to $1000 or more of agricultural products during the year. And under this plan, it further states that the “Farm” must adhere to a plan if they store, transfer, use, or consume oil and or fuels of more than 1320 US gallons in an above ground storage when quantities are combined or more than 42,000 gallons in an underground storage and of which could reasonably be expected to discharge into our waters during a failure. If your farm meets these requirements, then one needs to have an SPCC plan in place.
If a producer has fuel storage at a separate facility and they can confirm that each facility is a separate facility based on how it is operated, then the storage capacities of the separate units do not need to be combined. If however, we have exceeded the limits set forth, then the plan will need to be prepared and implemented by May 10, 2013. Determining on the quantity you state, one may be able to self certify their plan or they may need to have a plan certified by a professional engineer. Farms in operation before August 16, 2002 and already had a plan, can maintain or amend their existing plan. All other farms started after that date or ones that didn’t have a plan previously must prepare and use a plan by May 10th. In order to prepare the plan, one needs to list the containers, their contents, and location. Producers need to identify the procedures they would use to prevent the oil and or fuel spill even as minute as transferring fuel from storage to farm vehicles that reduce the possibility of spillage. The plan needs to include prevention measures from petroleum entering the water source and action steps taken to contain or clean up a spill if one would occur. Finally, the plan will need to include a list of emergency contacts and first responders.
Prevention measures could include overfill prevention alarms, secondary containments, and inspection records to name a few. Maintaining your plan becomes part of your farm business plan as you grow and make additional changes. Those changes are incorporated into the action plan and prevention plan. This should be done at a minimum of every five years. For more information on the SPCC rules, one can go to http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/spcc. The possibility of legislators changing the ruling before it becomes effective does exist, but we should be proactive and have a plan ready to go into effect if this does not happen. May 10, 2013 is a month away and with planting and field work coming, now is the time to ensure you are prepared to follow the law.