Vegetable Oils and Animal Fats
Animal fats and vegetable oils are regulated under 40 CFR 112, which has identical requirements for petroleum and non-petroleum oils. The EPA has considered the physical, chemical, biological, and other properties and environmental effects of petroleum oils, vegetable oils, and animal fats, which are the criteria to be evaluated under the Edible Oil Regulatory Reform Act. EPA finds that petroleum oils, vegetable oils, and animal fats share common physical properties and produce similar environmental effects. Like petroleum oils, vegetable oils and animal fats and their constituents can:
- Cause devastating physical effects, such as coating animals and plants with oil and suffocating them by oxygen depletion
- Be toxic and form toxic products
- Destroy future and existing food supplies, breeding animals, and habitats
- Produce rancid odors
- Foul shorelines, clog water treatment plants, and catch fire when ignition sources are present
- Form products that linger in the environment for many years.
Scientific research and experience with actual spills have shown that spills of animal fats and vegetable oils kill or injure fish, birds, mammals, and other species and produce other undesirable effects. Waterfowl and other birds, mammals, and fish that get coated with animal fats or vegetable oils could die of hypothermia, dehydration and diarrhea, or starvation. They can also sink and drown or fall victim to predators. Fish and other aquatic organisms may suffocate because of the depletion of oxygen caused by spilled animal fats and vegetable oils in water. Whether these oils are "toxic" to wildlife or kill wildlife indirectly through other processes is not the issue. Spills of animal fats and vegetable oils have the same or similar devastating impacts on the aquatic environment as petroleum oils.
Applicability of Facility Response Plan Rule and Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) RuleFacility Response Plan Rule
On October 20, 1997 EPA denied the petition of several agricultural trade organizations to allow facilities that store vegetable oils or animal fats to use different and less stringent response methods in planning for spills of these oils under the Facility Response Plan (FRP) rule (40 CFR 112.20-21; July 1, 1994).
EPA issued a revised Facility Response Plan (FRP) rule on June 30, 2000. The revision clarifies that the rule applies to facilities that handle, store, or transport mainly animal fats and vegetable oils, if they transfer large volumes of oil over water or store one million gallons or more of oil and meet additional criteria. The rule complies with the requirements of the Edible Oil Regulatory Reform Act to differentiate between animal fats and vegetable oils and other classes of oils, based on properties and effects.
The revised rule provides a more specific methodology for calculating planning volumes for a worst case discharge of animal fats and vegetable oils. The methodology is similar to that currently used in the rule for petroleum oils, but the factors in two new tables are more appropriate for estimating on-water and onshore recovery resource needs for animal fats and vegetable oils.
The revised rule includes separate regulatory sections for animal fats and vegetable oils, but keeps requirements for the same three response planning scenarios (small, medium, and worst case discharge) as in the original FRP rule. It adds new definitions for animal fats and vegetable oils and further differentiates between classes of oils by establishing new groups of oils termed Group A, B, and C, based on the specific gravity of animal fats and vegetable oils. Because persistence depends on many environmental factors, the new rule removes terms that are related to persistence as they apply to animal fats and vegetable oils.SPCC Rule
The SPCC rule as revised in 2002 provides requirements for different types of oil in response to the requirements of the EORRA. To make this change, EPA divided the rule into several subparts. Subpart A provides the general requirements for all facilities. Subparts B and C outline the requirements for different types of oils. Subpart B describes the requirements for petroleum oils and non-petroleum oils, except for animal fats and vegetable oils. Subpart C describes the requirements for animal fats and oils and greases, and fish and marine mammal oils; and for vegetable oils, including oils from seeds, nuts, fruits, and kernels.