The Oil, Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure program was put in place by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to prevent oil spills into waters of the United States.

This program recently expanded regulations to include some farms. As a result of these regulations, certain facilities are required to develop SPCC plans that describe oil storage containers, emergency contacts and response personnel, procedures, and training to prevent, control, and provide adequate countermeasures to a discharge of oil.

What farm facilities are covered by the SPCC program? Well, your farm facility is covered by this program if you store more than 1,320 gallons of oil in above-ground bulk containers, including containers (drums, totes, aboveground storage tanks, nurse tanks, well pumps, hydraulic lifts, etc.) with a storage capacity of 55 gallons and above, and your facilities have a “reasonable expectation of an oil discharge” to water.

Common types of oil covered under the SPCC program found at farms include diesel fuel, gasoline, lube oil, hydraulic oil and mineral oil.

In order to define what is meant by “reasonable expectation of an oil discharge” to water, consider the geography and location of your farm facility relative to nearby waters. Determine if drainage near your fuel storage facility or precipitation runoff could transport an oil spill to a nearby water body.

Exclude any man-made features like dikes or other structures when determining potential oil spill movement to waterways. If oil can reasonably flow to a body of water, and your fuel storage facility meets the 1,320 gallon threshold, then your facility is covered by SPCC.

If your farm fuel storage facility is covered by the SPCC, your facility must take steps to prevent oil spills, and you need an SPCC plan.

If you have an above-ground oil storage capacity greater than 10,000 gallons, you will need to have your plan certified by a professional engineer.

If you have 10,000 gallons or less and a clean spill history, you may self-certify your plan.

Your plan should describe the oil handling operations, spill prevention practices, spill clean-up procedures, discharge or drainage controls, and the personnel, equipment, and resources at the facility that are used to prevent oil spills from reaching water.

Make a list of your oil containers at your facility and describe the procedures you will use to prevent oil spills. Moreover, you should describe measures you installed to prevent oil from reaching water, what you will do to contain and clean up an oil spill, and make a list of emergency contacts and first responders.

The plan should be amended and updated as changes are made at your facility and should be reviewed at a minimum every five years to assure it is up-to-date. Keep your plan at your site.

Tip: If you are eligible to self-certify your plan, and no above-ground container at your farm is greater than 5,000 gallons, then you may use the plan template available to download from the the EPA Web site at

Oil spills can be prevented by installing dikes or berms around bulk storage containers or by using sorbent materials, drip pans, or curbing in oil transfer areas.

One should periodically inspect and test pipes and containers and develop measures to prevent container overfills.

In the event you have an oil spill, activate your SPCC plan to prevent oil from reaching the water body, and implement spill clean-up procedures. If oil gets into the water, notify the NRC at (800) 424-8802 immediately, as well as local and state officials.

Notify EPA Region 6 in writing if oil spilled to water is greater than 1,000 gallons in a single event or greater than 42 gallons on two different occasions within a 12-month period.

All farms and other agricultural facilities must prepare and use an SPCC Plan that meets suggested guidelines by November 10, 2011.

More information is available at the SPCC Web site for agriculture at

Jeffrey Stapper is the Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent for Nueces?County. Readers may contact him at (361) 767-5217.