New Regulations Affect Farm Fuel Storage

April 13, 2011 11:26 PM

Agricultural producers storing more than 1,320 gallons of fuel or other petroleum products on their farms soon will need a written plan for preventing and handling spills.

The plans are covered in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation amendments that take effect Nov. 10, said Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs.
The federal Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure regulation was adopted in 1974. It has been amended over the years.
"The SPCC's basic intent is to make sure growers who store large amounts of these products are putting in place measures that will protect the area around their properties, specifically groundwater and surface water," Whitford said. "With this regulation EPA is saying that we need to be thinking about fuel storage as much as pesticide and fertilizer storage. It doesn't take much oil or gas to pollute water."
Under the new amendments, only petroleum products stored in stationary tanks and containers of at least 55 gallons are counted toward the regulated total. Gasoline, diesel fuel and oil in tractors, trucks and other vehicular machinery are exempt.
Farmers would not be required to write a SPCC plan if their more than 1,320 gallons of petroleum products are stored on separate farms, so long as no single farm stores the regulated minimum, Whitford said.
"If you're between 1,321 gallons and 10,000 gallons, you can self-certify your written plan. If you're at greater than 10,000 gallons, the plan has to be written by a certified professional engineer. The EPA is looking to divide the smaller everyday users of products from those that store much larger quantities."
Farmers can expect to spend between $2,000 and $4,000 to hire an engineer to write a SPCC plan, Whitford said.
The plan includes such information as how petroleum products are stored, the location of storage units, the farm's topography and what steps would be taken in the event of a spill. The document is kept on the farm; EPA does not receive a copy.
"If EPA has to respond to a spill on your farm they will ask for this plan," Whitford said. "Regulatory enforcement likely would occur only if an EPA representative visited a farm on an unrelated matter."
Farmers can learn more about the regulation by visiting the EPA's SPCC website, which also includes links for farmers and a template for writing a SPCC plan.


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Spell Check

4/16/2011 03:30 AM

  This is a good reason to defund the EPA. This regulation is the poster child of government run amok. It won't protect the environment, and the EPA will think it failed its mission if you don't spend a lot of money. Having a spill prevention plan and protecting the environment seem to be good things and I think all farmers are doing this without this regulation. When was the last time that you saw a farmer buying fuel and dumping it out on the ground? When was the last time you saw a farmer buying extra chemical to just dump? Rarely, if ever. Sure accidents happen, but they still will with this regulation. This plan that the EPA wants us to have will cost about $5000 to have an engineer write and approve, if you do it yourself, the EPA won't approve it. The secondary containment structures is really a code word for buy new fuel tanks. If your fuel tanks are over ten to fifteen years old they probably won't have the proper UL listing to satisfy the regulators. When you want to change the tank to a more modern one you will find that the state, county, and local government dudes will all want a application and review fee (probably $1000 each) to let you put in a new tank. My local fire department told me that I couldn't place a fuel tank within a 150 feet of an important building and that I would have to have a phone within 50 feet of the tank so if it exploded I could call the fire department. The pump had to be fifty feet away from the tank. Add the breakaways, emergency vents, concrete tank bays, overfill alarms, leak detectors, etc. By the time I added all these requirements I would have to spend nearly $1 million to comply, they wanted me to have a filling station. The bottom line is that these regulations will not protect the environment, but will only cost the farmer a lot of money.


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