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EPA's rules: On-farm fuel storageTell North Platte what you think

The deadline for farm owners to comply with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Program is fast approaching.

A District 43 constituent recommended that this week's news report highlight the event.

Farms in operation before Aug. 16, 2002 must maintain or update an existing SPCC plan by Friday, May 10, 2013. Farms that started operation after Aug. 16, 2002 must prepare and implement a new plan by May 10.

The SPCC Program is intended to prevent oil spills into waters that could injure people, damage the environment and actually contaminate water resources that are needed for farming operations.

An SPCC plan would typically include information such as descriptions of the kind of oil containers located on the farm, an outline of the methods used to prevent oil spills, examples of procedures for preventing oil from reaching and mixing with water, a report of the way a spill would be cleaned up, and a roster of emergency personnel contacts.

The SPCC Program defines a farm as an enterprise on land devoted to crop production or raising animals, which would usually produce and sell $1,000 or more of agricultural products every year.

The SPCC Program does not apply to all farming operations. For example, if you do not store more than 1,320 gallons of oil or oil products in above-ground containers, or 42,000 gallons of the same products in completely buried containers, your farm is not required to comply with SPCC regulations.

Reports to the EPA indicate that some farmers have heard the agency will prevent local co-ops from delivering fuel unless the farm demonstrates that it has an SPCC plan in place. These reports are unfounded.

A more common trigger for enforcement might happen if a spill took place, and it was then discovered that the operation where the spill occurred did not have a plan in place.

Once an SPCC plan is in place, it must be certified. If a farm has total oil storage capacity that is more than 1,320 gallons but less than 10,000 gallons, the owner is allowed to certify his or her own plan.

However, if the farm has a storage capacity of more than 10,000 gallons or had a recent oil spill certification must be done by a professional engineer.

The federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution to authorize funding of government operations through the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30. Included in this resolution is an amendment to this year’s Agriculture Appropriations to delay enforcement of the new Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Program.

News of this temporary delay may lull some farmers into believing that they do not have to comply with the May 10 deadline for creating or updating the SPCC plan requirements, but this is not an accurate assumption. The stated deadline is still in place.

Nebraska is one of seven states in the EPA's Region 7. Mark Aaron is the Region 7 staff member who can answer questions about SPCC Program requirements. Mr. Aaron's phone number is 913-551-7205. His email address is aaron.mark@epa.gov.

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has an SPCC link on its website at www.deq.state.ne.us

If you need assistance to develop or implement an SPCC plan, I recommend you contact Mark Aaron or consult the Nebraska DEQ website.

As always, I value your input, and welcome phone calls, emails and personal visits from you.

Sen. Al Davis, State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509. Telephone (402) 471-2628. Email adavis@leg.ne.gov

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 5/2/2013
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