Spill prevention regs now in play

By MITCH LIES

For the Capital Press

Farmers should know the criteria for EPA spill prevention plans, an expert says.

Bruce McAllister is on a mission.

McAllister, of Kennewick, Wash., has made presentations to several grower groups this past offseason in an attempt to warn farmers that they may need a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plan, or SPCC plan.

McAllister is concerned that growers aren’t aware of the plan’s requirements and could face fines and other regulatory actions for being out of compliance. His company, McAllister and Daughters Engineering Services, is one of only two companies in the U.S. that specialize in SPCC regulations, he said.

In the past year, he said, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency inspectors have cited farms for everything from not having a plan to not controlling a spill.

According to the EPA, growers need to prepare and have on hand an SPCC plan if they have more than 1,320 gallons of above-ground oil-storage capacity and if their location provides a reasonable pathway to surface water.

EPA notes that a “reasonable pathway” does not have to be a navigable waterway. “If a fuel tank is next to the road ditch which eventually connects to a creek, that could be considered reasonable pathway to surface water,” the agency wrote.

It is up to the individual to determine if the farm is subject to the SPCC regulations, according to the agency.

In most cases, farmers won’t need a permit, according to the agency. But in cases where a farm needs a plan, “fines will be issued” if a spill occurs and the farm does not have a plan in place, the agency wrote.

Among other requirements, farms that need a plan must have a secondary containment facility designed to hold 110 percent of the volume of the largest tank on the farm. Containment systems could include berms, curbing or sorbent materials, the agency wrote.

In most cases, growers can self-certify their SPCC plan. Professional certification may be needed when growers have more than 10,000 gallons in above-ground oil-storage capacity, according to the agency.

Although the rule regulating spill prevention and control has been around since 1973, the EPA made a push to bring farmers into compliance after the agency added amendments to the rule in 2009. It set a compliance date of Nov. 10, 2010, at that time, but the agency kept pushing it back until last year, when the agency established a May 10, 2013, deadline for farms to prepare and implement an SPCC plan.

McAllister said the multiple delays on the implementation date contributed to the confusion surrounding SPCC plan regulations. “Farmers knew about the plan, but nothing was happening,” McAllister said.

More information

Growers can obtain more information on Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plans and self-certification templates at http://www.epa.gov/oem/docs/oil/spcc/sample_plan.pdf.

McAllister can be reached at 509-551-7124.



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