Environmental Managers’ Insight on Enforcement at Farms

“SPCC Requirements for Farms: Enforcement Outlook.”  This headline caught my eye recently as this story showed up in Business & Legal Resources’ Publication: The Environmental Manager’s Compliance Advisor (Compliance Advisor). This is a publication geared toward the more typical “smokestack” industry, so I was interested in their take on the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) issue for agriculture.

(Note: For a more detailed discussion on the May 10, 2013 deadline for SPCC for certain farms, see our May 5, 2011 and August 5, 2011 blog entries).

In the Compliance Advisor newsletter, they pose the following question, “Should small farmers in remote rural areas expect inspectors to be knocking on their doors and writing them up while they are in the middle of their 2013 spring planting?”

To answer this, the authors of the newsletter juxtapose the federal 1998 Underground Storage Tank (UST) deadline to the approaching deadline for agriculture. Specifically, they provide that the 1998 federal enforcement for USTs considered the following:

  •  Known problem facilities (e.g., abandoned sites)
  • Sites that were consistently out of compliance
  • Facilities near sensitive populations or sensitive resources

How might this translate to farms? The federal and state regulators might take a similar tact; for example, the regulators might consider the following approach:

  •  Assess farms that should have had their SPCC plan completed and implemented prior to August 16, 2002
  • Focus on farms that had previous Clean Water Act violations
  • Focus on farms near sensitive watersheds or water supplies

What the enforcement action might actually look like is anyone’s guess, but as we have continued to suggest, be proactive and have your plans and permits in place well in advance of any regulatory deadline.

If you have questions or need assistance with your SPCC plan, contact Matthew Schroeder, P.E. (mschroeder@dragun.com), Christopher Paré (cpare@dragun.com), or Amy Owen, EIT (aowen@dragun.com) at 248-932-0228.

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