Revised agriculture guidelines for EPA’s Oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) program

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The Environmental Protection Agency’s Oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Program was initiated in 2013. It establishes reporting requirements on certain farms related to on-farm oil storage. There have been some important revisions in 2015 to the SPCC program.

The goal of the SPCC program is to prevent oil spills into waters of the United States and adjoining shorelines. Oil spills can cause injuries to people and damage to the environment. A key element of this program requires farmers and other facilities that exceed the SPCC oil storage requirements to have an oil spill prevention plan, called an SPCC Plan. These Plans can help farmers contain potential oil spills which could damage water resources needed for farming operations.

Revisions to the original SPCC program

1. A Farm is not required to have an SPCC Plan if it has:

  • Aggregated storage capacity less than 2,500 gallons
  • Aggregated storage capacity greater than 2,500 gallons and less than 6,000** gallons and no reportable discharge history 


2. A farmer can self-certify the SPCC Plan if the farm has:

  • An aggregate aboveground storage capacity greater than 6,000** gallons but less than 20,000 gallons
  • No individual tank with a capacity greater than 10,000 gallons
  • No reportable discharge history

**The 6,000-gallon threshold may be adjusted by EPA, following a study to determine the appropriate exemption.

3. The following do not count when calculating aggregate aboveground oil storage capacity:

  • All containers on separate parcels that have a capacity of 1,000 gallons or less
  • Containers storing heating oil used solely at a single-family residence (e.g., your personal residence as the farm owner or operator)
  • Pesticide application equipment or related mix containers (with adjuvant oil)
  • Any milk and milk product container and associated piping and equipment
  • Completely buried oil tanks (underground storage tanks or USTs) and associated piping and equipment that are subject to all of the technical requirements under EPA’s underground storage tank regulations at 40 CFR part 280 or 281
  • Containers holding animal feed ingredients approved for use in livestock feed by the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Summary of the SPCC program


What is considered a farm under the SPCC program?

Under SPCC, a farm is: “a facility on a tract of land devoted to the production of crops or raising of animals, including fish, which produced and sold, or normally would have produced and sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during a year.”


Does my farm have to meet requirements of the SPCC program?

The SPCC program applies to a farm that meets ALL THREE (3) of the following:


  1. Stores, transfers, uses, or consumes oil or oil products, such as diesel fuel, gasoline, lube oil, hydraulic oil, adjuvant oil, crop oil, vegetable oil, or animal fat.
  2. Stores more than 2,500 gallons of oil or oil products in aboveground containers.
  3. Could reasonably be expected to discharge oil to waters of the US or adjoining shorelines, such as interstate waters, intrastate lakes, rivers, and streams. The environment and flow properties of oil when combined with a rain event must be considered.


Farms that meet all three criteria are covered by SPCC and need to review the “SPCC Program: Farms and the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA)”fact sheet found at the following website:

Sample plans and plan templates are available at the following website (these have not been updated to reflect the new guidelines):

What do I do with my SPCC plan?

The plan should be maintained at your facility if you are usually present at least 4 hours per day or at your nearest office if the facility is not staffed.  Your SPCC plan must be updated when any changes are made to your storage and/or containment. Additionally the plan must be reviewed every five years.


Peter Tomlinson, Environmental Quality Specialist, Agronomy

Aleksey Sheshukov, Watershed Assessment Specialist, Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Kerri Ebert, Extension Assistant, Ag Safety and Health Program, Biological and Agricultural Engineering