New fact sheet on SPCC applicability to farms

By Amanda Czepiel, JD, Managing Editor – Environmental

The EPA has released a new fact sheet explaining the impacts of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) on the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule and farms.

The EPA anticipates revising the SPCC rule consistent with the WRRDA amendments in a future rulemaking.

When does a farm need an SPCC plan?

The WRRDA changed certain applicability provisions of the SPCC rule for farms, and modified the criteria under which a farmer may self-certify an SPCC plan.

Under the WRRDA amendments, SPCC applies to a farm that:

  • Stores, transfers, uses, or consumes oil or oil products, such as diesel fuel, gasoline, lube oil, hydraulic oil, adjuvant oil, crop oil, vegetable oil, or animal fat; and
  • Stores more than 2,500 U.S. gallons (gal) in aboveground containers; and
  • Could reasonably be expected to discharge oil to waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines, such as interstate waters, interstate lakes, rivers, and streams.

If a farm meets all of these criteria, it must be covered under an SPCC plan. A farm is not required to have an SPCC plan if it has an aggregate aboveground storage capacity of less than 2,500 gal or an aggregate aboveground storage capacity greater than 2,500 gal and less than 6,000 gal and no reportable discharge history.

Can farms self-certify?

The WRRDA also changed the applicability of the self-certification option for farms. A farmer may self-certify its SPCC plan if the farm has:

  • An aggregate aboveground storage capacity greater than 6,000 gal but less than 20,000 gal;
  • No individual tank with a capacity greater than 10,000 gal; and
  • No reportable discharge history.

A Professional Engineer must certify the plan if the farm has an individual tank with an aboveground storage capacity greater than 10,000 gal; or an aggregate aboveground storage capacity greater than or equal to 20,000 gal; or a reportable discharge history.

The WRRDA directs the EPA to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct a study to determine the appropriate applicability threshold for farms based on a significant risk of discharge to water, so these threshold volumes may change soon. According to the WRRDA, the threshold quantity must be not more than 6,000 gal and not less than 2,500 gal. The study is expected to be completed by June 2015. After the completion of the study, the EPA will promulgate a rule amending the SPCC requirements to adjust the applicability thresholds.

Amanda Czepiel, J.D., is the Managing Editor of BLR’s environmental publications. Before joining BLR, Ms. Czepiel clerked in the Environmental Enforcement Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and with the Connecticut Fund for the Environment in New Haven, Connecticut. She is a member of the Connecticut chapter of the Society of Women Environmental Professionals and the American Bar Association, and is admitted to practice in Connecticut.

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