UNL CropWatch March 31, 2011: Secondary Containment Rules for Pesticide Containers

UNL CropWatch March 31, 2011: Secondary Containment Rules for Pesticide Containers

March 31, 2011

In this third and final segment of our series on Nebraska pesticide container and secondary containment, we’ll discuss rules for secondary containment and load-out facilities.

The  Rule

The EPA's Pesticide Container and Containment (PCC) Rule ensures that containers are strong and durable and that cross-contamination or other problems do not occur.

The PCC Rule may apply if you are a pesticide registrant, distributor, retailer, commercial applicator, custom blender, or end user. Its purpose is to:

  • minimize human pesticide exposure while handling containers;
  • facilitate pesticide container disposal and recycling; and
  • protect the environment from pesticide spills, leaks, or other accidents at bulk storage sites during the pesticide refilling or dispensing process (EPA, 2009).

Large containers of bulk liquid fertilizers or pesticides pose some unique challenges, such as the potential for spillage or leaking into groundwater or surface water. To address these issues, the EPA containment rules and Title 198, Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Agricultural Chemical Containment,include rules pertaining to size, capacity, enclosure, and other aspects of secondary containment and load-out facilities.

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) has revised Title 198 to comply with new EPA standards from the PCC Rule.

If you are responsible for bulk quantities of liquid pesticides and fertilizers, you may be required to use secondary containment and/or load-out facilities.

According to the NDEQ, secondary containment and/or load-out facilities are required if the storage capacity of a liquid pesticide exceeds 500 gallons. Also, custom applicators must be aware that load-out facilities are required if using liquid pesticides in original containers greater than 3 gallons or if using mixtures of liquid fertilizers or pesticides in containers greater than 100 gallons.

Liquid fertilizer storage requirements differ from liquid pesticide storage requirements in that liquid fertilizers require secondary containment if:

  • one container exceeds 2,000 gallons,
  • two or more containers have a combined capacity greater than 3,000 gallons, or
  •  liquid fertilizers are stored anytime between November 1 and March 15 in quantities that occupy over 25% of the container capacity for containers larger than 500 gallons.

Secondary containment is not required if the contents of one or more containers (up to 6,000 gallons) are stored at the application site between March 15 and October 1 for no more than 21 consecutive days. Note that this exception is specific to application sites, and some containers, such as those used in chemigation, do not qualify. Containers also must follow other rules including maintaining a minimum distance from wells and surface water.

For more information consult the NDEQ publications:

While Title 198 does not require either registration or a permit, you must have a construction plan and management program for secondary containment and load-out facilities. The construction plan must be certified by a Nebraska registered professional engineer. This plan remains with the owner and must be made available to NDEQ upon request. See Chapter 7 of Title 198 for details.

Containment standards follow existing NDEQ regulations. Contact the NDEQ for guidance at 402-471-2186 or visit the NDEQ Website.

Erin Bauer, Extension Associate
Clyde Ogg, Extension Educator
Pierce Hansen, Extension Assistant
Jan Hygnstrom, Project Coordinator
UNL Pesticide Safety Education Program


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