On Thursday, October 14, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency published a Final Rule, “Oil Pollution Prevention; Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule – Compliance Date Amendment.” Basically, this rule provided an extension (to November 10, 2011) for many different types of industries (including agriculture) for compliance with the SPCC rule amendments.
In the Final Rule the EPA also stated they are delaying “the compliance date by which the owner or operator of a facility must address milk and milk product containers, associated piping and appurtenances that are constructed according to the current applicable 3–A Sanitary Standards, and subject to the current applicable Grade ‘A’ Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) or a State dairy regulatory requirement equivalent to the current applicable PMO. The date by which the owner or operator of a facility must comply with SPCC requirements for these milk and milk product containers is delayed one year from the effective date of a final rule specifically addressing these milk and milk product containers, associated piping and appurtenances, or as specified by a rule that otherwise establishes a new compliance date for these facilities.”
This action had been pending and fully anticipated. We discussed this issue at each of the three SPCC seminars that were held in Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois specifically for dairy producers.
This action does provide temporary relief for some producers. Additionally, we hope to see some final action in the very near future that will provide clear guidance for storage of milk. In an effort to clear up some areas of confusion, we are providing a question and answer format that reflects many of the types of questions we have received over the past few months.
Question: Does this mean milk is now exempt?
Answer: No, not yet at least. It means the EPA is still evaluating the potential exemption and any final action associated with the milk issue will be published in the Federal Register at a later date.
Question: Does this mean I don’t have to develop an SPCC plan until November 2011?
Answer: That depends. If you were in operation prior to August 16, 2002, and you were required to have an SPCC, you are still required to have an SPCC plan – you simply have an extension as it relates to the amendments to the SPCC rule. If you began operations after August 16, 2002, you have an extension to November 10, 2011.
Question: I was in operation prior to August 16, 2002; does this mean I have to develop an SPCC plan?
Answer: If you have the capacity to store (in above ground tanks) more than 1,320 gallons of regulated materials (e.g., oils, diesel fuel, gasoline, etc) you likely need an SPCC plan. You may have an option to self-certify if your capacity to store is less than 10,000 gallons aggregate or less than 5,000 gallons in an individual container. A less likely scenario for agriculture is underground storage tank capacity of greater than 42,000 gallons, which would also require an SPCC plan.
Question: I have a 2,000 gallon tank, but I typically only store 800 gallons – do I need an SPCC plan?
Answer: Yes, the rule is based on capacity. If you don’t need this much capacity, consider getting a smaller tank. You certainly have the option of changing the storage capacity to below the regulatory threshold to potentially avoid the SPCC requirements.
Question: Does the EPA have a database to know who needs a plan, and do I have to give them a copy of my plan?
No and no. The EPA does not have a master database. Typically enforcement is prompted because someone nearby complained, a former employee called the EPA or State regulators, or there is an industry specific action (e.g., a focus on dairy farms, auto shop repair, dry cleaners etc…) When you develop (and implement) a plan, it remains on your site. You make it available, if and, when an EPA or State inspector requests a copy.