Have you ever heard the old adage, “The only constant in life is change?” That statement seems to be echoing in my mind as I read the flood of information on various agricultural news and policy updates.
Part of my role at North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center is to provide education and technology that enriches the lives, land and economy of North Carolina. The truth is, it even keeps my head spinning trying to keep up with all the changes. There is a need to help farmers stay up-to-date with new regulations, which is why I wanted to share some timely information about an upcoming deadline that may affect several farmers in the area.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, farmers have until May 10 to prepare and implement their Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plans. The purpose of the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure rule is to help facilities and farms prevent a discharge of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. A key element of the the rule requires farms and other facilities to develop, maintain and implement an oil spill prevention plan called an Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan. These plans help farms prevent oil spill, as well as control a spill should one occur.
Under the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure rule, a farm is a facility on a tract of land devoted to the production of crops or raising of animals, including fish, which are produced and sold, or normally would have produced and sold $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, a farm will be required to comply with the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure program if a facility:
— Stores, transfers, uses, or consumes oil or oil products, such as diesel fuel, gasoline, hydraulic oil, adjuvant oil, crop oil, vegetable oil or animal fat.
— Stores more than 1,320 gallons in above-ground containers (only count containers 55 gallons or greater, includes fuel tanks mounted on trailers, fuel trucks, and tanks in pickup trucks) or more than 42,000 gallons in completely buried containers.
— Could reasonably be expected to discharge oil to waters of the U.S. or adjoining shorelines, such as interstate waters, intrastate lakes, rivers and streams.
It is important to know if the on-farm storage capacity is less than 10,000 gallons total the owner can self-file a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plan with the Environmental Protection Agency. If the storage capacity is over 10,000 total gallons, the owner will need a professional engineer to certify the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plan. Totals of storage capacities from more than one farm location do not have to be combined if identified with separate farm identification numbers. Check your lease agreements and with property owners if you lease property with tanks already present to be sure who is responsible for the tanks under the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure rule.
To find example plans, calculation worksheets for secondary containment systems, a list of state Professional Engineer licensing board contacts, and other helpful information go to http://www.epa.gov/oem/content/spcc/tier1temp.htm or contact the Envioremental Protection Agency Ag Compliance Assistance Center at 1-888-663-2155.
For information, contact Mac Malloy, Extension field crops agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by email at Mac_Malloy@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.