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Fertilizer and Pesticide Bulk Storage Requires Load-out and Secondary Containment

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is reminding those who store fertilizers and pesticides in bulk that they may be subject to secondary containment and load-out requirements.

With the current economic conditions, those who use or re-sell fertilizers and pesticides are looking to economy of scale to help keep profitability in the picture. As a result, many brokers and applicators are buying these chemicals in larger and larger quantities.

Many times this necessitates containment and load-out facilities, and brings with it new management considerations. If you have bulk liquid fertilizer or pesticides, you may be subject to the secondary containment regulations in Title 198 – Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Agricultural Chemical Containment. The same is true if you apply pesticide or fertilizer solutions for hire.

These regulations may require you to have secondary containment (diking) and load-out facilities (load and/or rinse pad). The regulations apply to both private and commercial storage, as well as to commercial applicators of liquid fertilizers and pesticides.

When is pesticide secondary containment required?

Secondary containment and a load-out facility are required when bulk liquid pesticide storage capacity exceeds 500 gallons. Under this regulation, three 200-gallon containers of bulk pesticide – with a combined total of 600 gallons – would require secondary containment and a load-out facility.

When is fertilizer secondary containment required?

Secondary containment for bulk fertilizer storage is required when the capacity of a single container exceeds 2,000 gallons, the capacity of two or more containers exceeds 3,000 gallons, or when fertilizer storage exceeds 25 percent of the container capacity for any container larger than 500 gallons at any time between November 1 and March 15.

One exception to this requirement was provided when Title 198 was amended in 1999. Under this exception, the use of one or more containers (up to 6,000 gallons of combined capacity) is allowed at the application site from March 15 through October 1, for up to 21 consecutive days, without secondary containment. This exception is specific to that application site and does not apply to containers used in chemigation or to nurse tanks used for satellite-type operations to other fields. Other requirements must also be met, such as distance to surface water and wells.

It is worth noting that, by definition, anhydrous ammonia, dry fertilizer, and feedlot manure are not considered bulk fertilizer, and are not subject to the Title 198 regulations.

When is a loadout facility required?

It is also important to note that, in most instances, load-out facilities are required when secondary containment is required and bulk liquid pesticides are stored in aggregate quantities greater than 500 gallons, or when bulk liquid fertilizers are stored in quantities greater than 5,000 gallons. Even if secondary containment is not required, a custom applicator must have a load-out facility when using pesticides from original containers larger than three gallons or when using pesticide or fertilizer mixtures of more than 100 gallons. The requirements for load-out facilities are also included in Title 198.

Compliance with Title 198 is required.

Title 198 regulations do not require either registration or a permit. However, a construction plan and a management program for secondary containment and load-out facilities are required. A construction plan for new facilities must include certification from a Nebraska registered Professional Engineer that the facility design complies with the regulations.

As with all its programs, NDEQ encourages voluntary compliance. The Department will be conducting a number of compliance inspections during the year, and has an agreement with the Pesticide Program of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to provide for additional inspections. NDEQ can seek court-ordered injunctions, fines, or other legal remedies as provided for in the Nebraska Environmental Protection Act in order to obtain compliance with regulations.

A summary of the regulations has been provided in NebGuide format, and can be obtained from any local University of Nebraska – Cooperative Extension office. It is identified as the Fertilizer and Pesticide Containment Guidelines, NebGuide number G94-1185-A.

For specific information, or for a copy of the Title 198 regulations, please contact the Agriculture Section, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 98992, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509, or phone (402) 471-4239 or visit the NDEQ website at http://deq.ne.gov/.