It doesn’t take a lot of oil to do significant damage to the environment. In fact, as little as one gallon of oil can contaminate one million gallons of water.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule is designed to prevent oil spills from damaging our water and natural resources. By developing spill prevention plans and taking basic precautions, farmers and livestock producers can avoid the costs (and headaches) that can result from even a small spill from their tanks.
To develop a plan, farmers and livestock producers need to identify their containers storing oil, controls in place to prevent potential spills from reaching water, and the methods and resources available to contain and clean up spills. Plans should also include a list of emergency contacts and first responders.
Not every farm or livestock operation needs a plan. You’ll need one if your operation stores more than 1,320 gallons of oil, or fuel, in above ground containers (or more than 42,000 gallons in buried containers), and an accidental spill from a container could reach waters of the United States. Oil includes petroleum oils, fuels, sludge, synthetic oils, oil refuse, animal fats, and vegetable and fish oils.
In the event of a spill, farmers and livestock producers should follow the steps in their plan and notify EPA’s National Response Center (800-424-8802) of any discharge to water. EPA’s regional office in Denver should also be notified if more than 1,000 gallons of oil is discharged to a body of water in a single event, or if more than 42 gallons of oil is spilled to water on two different occasions within a 12-month period.
Although the SPCC requirements originated in 1974, EPA has amended the rule to make compliance easier. Now, only individual containers with a capacity of 55 gallons or more are counted towards the 1,320 gallon threshold. Pesticide mix containers, pesticides application equipment, and residential heating oil tanks have been exempted. Recently, EPA issued another exemption that applies to milk and milk product containers and milk production equipment in response to feedback from the agriculture community.