Under revised U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules, farms, ranches and other facilities that use and store oil products may need to develop a plan to store, clean up and mitigate oil spills.

The EPA requires farms and other facilities that meet certain guidelines to have that plan in place by Nov. 10.

"Producers could face a fine if the EPA inspects their facility and they need to have a plan but don't have one in place after that date," says Roxanne Johnson, North Dakota State University Extension Service water quality associate.

Farms and other facilities must have a plan if they meet all three of the following criteria:

  • They use, transfer or consume oil or oil products, such as gas; diesel fuel; lubrication, hydraulic, crop or vegetable oil; or animal fat.
  • They store more than 1,320 U.S. gal. of oil or oil products in aboveground containers or more than 42,000 U.S. gal. in buried containers.
  • Oil reasonably could be expected to discharge into U.S. waters or adjoining shorelines, such as interstate waters, intrastate lakes, rivers and streams.

When determining whether the discharge issue could apply to them, farms and other facilities need to take into account oil's nature and flow properties when combined with rain.

The EPA notes that only containers 55 gal. or larger should be included in the 1,320-gal. total. Also, farmers and ranchers who own or lease additional land that meets the EPA's criteria will need a separate oil spill cleanup and mitigation plan for that property.

For information on what is included in a plan, visit the NDSU Extension
Service's fact sheet.