EPA extends some oil spill plan deadlines

Created: 10/14/10 (Thu) | Topic: Issues

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revised a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) deadline that affects farms and other facilities.

Farms in business before Aug. 16, 2002, are expected to have in place an SPCC plan based on regulations in effect at the time it was developed. The EPA has extended the deadline to amend their plan to meet current regulations and implement the amended plan to Nov. 10, 2011.

The EPA also has extended the deadline to Nov. 10, 2011, for operations that started after Aug. 16, 2002, to prepare and implement a plan meeting current regulations.

"While this extension is helpful for those farmers in business prior to 2002, the extension only relates to the changes that need to be made to the SPCC plan that the farmer is expected to already have in place," says Roxanne Johnson, North Dakota State University Extension Service water quality associate. "Only farms that came into existence after 2002 have the additional year to write and implement the full SPCC plan."

Farms and other facilities must have an SPCC plan if they meet all three of the following criteria:

* They use or transfer oil or oil products such as gas; diesel fuel; lubrication, hydraulic, crop or vegetable oil; or animal fat.

* They store more than 1,320 U.S. gallons of oil or oil products in aboveground containers or more than 42,000 U.S. gallons in buried containers.

* The oil or oil products reasonably could be expected to discharge into U.S.
waters or adjoining shorelines, such as interstate waters, intrastate lakes, rivers and streams.

When determining whether the discharge issue could apply to them, farms and other facilities need to take into account the nature and flow properties of oil when combined with rain, Johnson says.

The EPA notes that only containers 55 gallons or larger should be included in the 1,320-gallon total. Also, farmers and ranchers who own or lease additional land that meets the EPA's criteria will need a separate oil spill cleanup and mitigation plan for that property.

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