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Farm fuel tank rules PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, April 25, 2013 12:27 PM

Assistant Professor OSU-Extension Putnam County Extension Educator

Many farmers are getting notices from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) about complying with farm fuel storage requirements. Farms with more than 1,320 gallons of fuel above ground or 42,000 gallons of below ground storage of oil or oil products need to file a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan (Ohio Ag Manager). In addition, these farms need to have secondary containment for all fuel or oil storage in case of a spill.

Two other requirements have to exist before a farm needs to fill this plan. First, fuel must be used for non-transportation (for example farm use). Second, there must be possible discharge to waters of the State of Ohio (shoreline, road ditch, stream, rivers). Some farmers think that they are not close to any major surface water, but a simple grass waterway or road ditch is enough to activate this rule. Farmers will have until May 10, 2013 to file the SPCC (Ohio Country Journal, Mid April, 2013).
USEPA has had these laws on their books since 2011 but is now getting serious about enforcing the rules. Many farmers are confused about the rules because they are now getting notices about enforcement. Ohio Fire Marshall Rules state that farmers may have 5,000 gallons of fuel stored above ground before secondary containment is required. These new USEPA rules are much more restrictive and are now being enforced by USEPA.

There are two categories for certification. The first is for farms with 1,320 gallons up to 10,000 gallons of oil or oil products and all tanks are smaller than 5,000 gallons. These farms are allowed to self-certify using a simplified plan as long as the farm has not had any spills greater than 1,000 gallons or less than two discharges of more than 42 gallons in the last year. The second group is for farms with more than 10,000 gallons of storage and those plans require a professional engineer (Ohio Ag Manager). If for example, you have 1320 gallons of storage and a 5,000 gallon empty fuel tank on your farm, then you’ll need a full SPCC plan which is much more tedious and expensive to conduct (Ohio Country Journal, Mid-April, 2013).

What in a SPCC plan? The purpose of the SPCC plan is to prevent discharges of fuel or oil products into the environment. The plan includes information about all storage containers including volume, sizes, and materials stored; secondary containment facilities; how you will control a spill if a spill occurs; requires inspection and testing records; training; maintenance records; security; emergency response; and how waste products will be disposed.

The plan also includes information about personnel on the farm (who is in charge) and information about the farming business operation. Any employee handling fuel or oil must be trained on the plan and what to do in emergency situations if a spill occurs. The plan needs to be updated every 5 years or sooner if additional fuel or oil storage is added to the facility. The plan is kept on the farm and needs to be available if USEPA shows up for an inspection.

The SPCC plan includes an inventory of the entire farming operation. This includes all containers 55 gallons or greater. Some things that are exempt include fuel tanks on tractors and combines or harvesting equipment. Mobile fuel tanks, nurse tanks, and heating oil are also exempt but they should be noted on the SPCC plan (Ohio Country Journal, Mid-April, 2013).

The secondary containment and storage of fuel and oil must be large enough to contain any spill and is designed to contain 110 percent of the largest container in the containment area. Secondary containment is required for any operation with greater than 1,320 gallons of above ground fuel or oil products. The containment area is designed to prevent discharge and to make cleanup easy. If secondary containment cannot be constructed or if diking cannot be used, then a professional engineer is required to certify the operation (Ohio Ag Manager). Double walled fuel and oil containers are another option, however; they are expensive and hard to find due to the implementation of these new USEPA rules.

There are several websites for more information on how to conduct an SPCC plan. The USEPA site is http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/spcc/spcc_ag.htm#spcc. Another factsheet provides a good overview: http://www//epa.ohio.gov/portals/41/sb/publications/spec.pdf.


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