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EPA Includes Uniform Dairy Exemption in Final Oil Spill Rule

Apr 13, 2011

In a victory for IDFA and its members, the Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday that milk and milk product containers, associated piping and appurtenances are exempt from the agency's Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations. In its final rule, EPA recognized IDFA's arguments supporting an exemption for all milk product containers, but the agency continued to say "milk is considered an oil."

On its website, EPA said it finalized the exemption because milk production is already subject to other standards and requirements that will help prevent spills. The exemption will cover all containers, piping and appurtenances of milk and milk products, including cheeses, yogurts and ice cream. Additionally, transfers and milk handling associated with these containers and appurtenances are exempt from the SPCC requirements.

IDFA worked with the EPA for years on the exemption, even as recently as last month. In a letter sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, IDFA reiterated its previous recommendation to base the exemption on the current Good Manufacturing Practices, specifically 21CFR 110.40. IDFA emphasized that these regulations provide ample protection against dairy equipment deteriorating to the point that it would cause a leak or spill.

Exemption Will Save Industry Millions

"We're thrilled that EPA has followed our common-sense recommendations to exempt all milk and milk products uniformly from this rule," said Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs. "According to EPA estimates, this exemption will save the dairy industry $146 million in avoided compliance costs."

Specifically, EPA estimates that dairy farms will save $133 million a year in compliance costs, while milk processing plants will save $13 million annually.

"We also appreciate the interest that Congress has shown regarding this issue," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "We want to thank the many members who expressed their concern and particularly Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who worked to extend the exemption to all milk and milk product containers."

The purpose of the SPCC regulations, which have been in place since 1973, is to establish requirements for facilities to prevent a discharge of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.

For more information, contact Detlefsen at or (202) 220-3554.

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