Thursday, January 17, 2013

On Farm Fuel Storage Containment Requirement

Farms now have less than four months to prepare or amend and implement their Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans. The compliance date for farms is May 10, 2013.

The following regulations which require containment or diversionary structures if you have more than 1,320 gallons of above ground fuel storage are not new. The original regulations became effective in 1974 and were revised in 2002, 2006, 2009 and 2010. On October 18, 2011, the U.S. EPA issued both a direct final (76 FR 64245) and a proposed rule (76 FR 64296) to amended the date by which farms must prepare or amend and implement their Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans, to May 10, 2013.

One nice aspect of the 2010 revision is that it contained a form to be filled out to create the self-certified plan needed by some farmers.

Farmers with as few as three above ground 550 gallon gasoline and/or diesel fuel storage tanks may be subject to these regulations. This is the case because total above ground storage capacity for oil or oil products of 1,320 gallons or more, or below ground storage capacity of 42,000 gallons or more is subject to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulation (40 CFR Part 112).

These SPCC regulations require plans, procedures and equipment to contain discharges of oil or petroleum products (heating oil, crude oil, mineral oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, animal fats, vegetable oils and synthetic oils) if such discharge could reasonably be expected to reach a waterway or sanitary/storm sewer inlet. To calculate if the 1,320 gallon storage capacity threshold is met, total capacity of tanks or containers (excluding those less than 55 gallon drums) must be considered. Neither the amount of actual gallons in storage nor the portion of storage commonly used makes any difference as to if these regulations apply. The operating or shell capacity of the storage container is counted towards total facility oil storage capacity. The amount of total storage is what is considered.

Those facilities subject to the regulations must provide adequate secondary containment and/or diversionary structures for oil or petroleum product storage and transfer areas to contain any releases and show their ability to implement a written plan of action in case of a release from the primary storage (tank). Adequate containment is generally expected to be able to hold the volume of the largest tank or container in the area plus sufficient freeboard for precipitation, by impervious dikes, berms or retaining walls, etc.

Many farmers will be able to self-certify the needed plan instead of retaining the services of a certifying professional engineer (PE). This self-certified plan can contain streamlined facility security requirements and fewer tank integrity inspections. These less stringent requirements apply to facilities with less than 10,000 gallons of aggregate above ground storage capacity that meet the reportable discharge history criterion for the last three years of operation (no discharges of 1,000 gallons or more in one instance or no two discharges of more than 42 gallons in the last twelve months).

However, if farmers want to use alternative methods for diking or secondary containment, or if secondary containment is deemed impractical, then a PE will need to review and certify the amended aspects of the plan.

Plans should not be submitted to U.S. EPA or Ohio EPA. The plan requirement can be satisfied by filling out the form as indicated in the text below. The plan should be accessible and readily available to be used by employees and farm management in the case of a release from the primary tank. Personnel in the oil-handling areas need to be trained in spill prevention, tank management, procedures and spill response at least.

Any release beyond the secondary containment of 1,000 gallons or more, or two releases of more than 42 gallons each within a 12-month period must be reported with specific information by calling 1 (800) 424-8802. The Coast Guard will answer, take information and refer appropriately. If the spill quantity is less than originally thought, especially if below the above thresholds, the owner may wish to call back and revise the report. If a large release occurs and/or is reported by someone else, a report and a copy of the plan will likely be required to be sent to U.S. EPA Region 5 and the appropriate Ohio EPA district office.

A fact sheet with this and more information is available at

Also, at the U.S. EPA’s web site at there is a link to the federal register with the final adopted regulations which include a form to be filled out for the self-certified plan.

For more detailed information, visit the Darke County OSU Extension web site at, the OSU Extension Darke County Facebook page or contact Sam Custer, at 937.548.5215.

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