It seems agriculture continues to be hit on all sides with new regulations. One area the EPA appears to be stepping up enforcement in, is on-farm fuel storage. Billy Nichols is the CEO of the Environmental Compliance Group, a firm that assists producers in dealing with environmental regulations. He says a relatively new addition to the spill prevention control and counter-measure rule may have caught producers off guard.
"We have a regulation that farmers and ranchers are unfamiliar with, it's the SPCC rule. It covers bulk fuel storage on farms and ranches. The EPA has set a standard for any farm or ranch that has over 1,320 gallons of bulk fuel or any oil by-product , is required now by law to have a spill prevention plan. There's been a lack of education."
According to Nichols, the rule deals primarily with establishment of a spill prevention plan on farms and ranches:
"A lot of farms are under the impression that if they have a double-walled tank that they are in compliance. But they are still required to have a spill prevention plan in place. By having the plan in place and the containment, then they are meeting the regulations. If they don't have double-walled tanks then they are required by rule to have not only the plan but have secondary containment around their fuel tanks. We've had a lot of questions, 'What if I have multiple facilities?' They are required to have multiple plans for each facility."
Nichols says failure to comply with the regulation carries some hefty penalties:
"The fines, unfortunately, can be very steep for non-compliance. Minimum fines can start, depending on the facility, depending on the operator and their size, they can start at a thousand dollars per day per facility."
There are some free tools available on the EPA's website to assist producers with the development of a spill prevention plan. That can be found by searching "SPCC rule" at www.epa.gov.