2013 Agrichemical Management Bureau Annual Report


The Agrichemical Containment program requires the use of approved containment structures to help prevent spills of pesticides and fertilizers from contaminating soil and groundwater. Fertilizers and pesticides stored in bulk quantities at agricultural chemical storage facilities must comply with agency bulk storage rules, ch. ATCP 33 Wis. Adm. Code.  Generally, these rules apply to bulk storage of fertilizers and pesticides where the products are being stored for distribution. The term “bulk” refers to more than 55 gallons of liquid or 100 pounds of dry fertilizer or pesticide. An example where the bulk storage rules do not apply is when bulk product is stored on a farm for the owner’s end use and the farmer does not engage in further distribution of those products.

Program Activities

Chart 1 summarizes inspections completed by DATCP’s containment program over the last five years. The containment program has emphasized inspections at bulk facilities over the last several years, but the program also oversees the compliance for mixing and loading of non-bulk pesticides under ch. ATCP 29.  The department’s general observations of containment inspections is that, based on the subset of the facilities inspected in 2013, there appears to be a greater degree of voluntary compliance than in past years.  That is, fewer violations overall and fewer violations that would warrant higher enforcement action were observed during the department’s 2013 inspections.

In 2013, new construction plans were submitted continuously throughout the year, with 63 plan reviews on 30 projects.  To help ensure construction was being performed in compliance with project plans, DATCP continued construction observation activities, where engineering staff from the Bureau of Land and Water Resources Management (LWRM) assisted the Bureau of Agrichemical Management in spot-checking construction of new containment structures (for which plans were submitted and reviewed).  Performing these spot observations allows the department to point out any errors or deficiencies of pre-pour construction.  This allows the contractor to bring the project into compliance with the engineer’s design and state requirements.

Our observations have been that, both the managers and contractors at these under-construction facilities appreciate the guidance and efforts of the attending LWRM field engineers.  It is worth adding that construction oversight often required more than one visit and a significant time commitment on the part of multiple LWRM engineering staff.  With just one containment engineer in the ACM Bureau, these inspections could not have occurred were it not for the inter-bureau collaboration.

In 2013, only one of the 37 facilities where sumps were inspected had a sump that was found to be leaking.  That sump was constructed without the facility submitting any design plans to DATCP.  The facility has expressed a desire to permanently remove this sump and mix/load pad and perform the under-sump environmental assessment as part of an ongoing remediation case. DATCP also tested several sumps at facilities that submitted design plans according to the revised rules and minimum design standards.  DATCP has not found any of these new sumps to be leaking.  Any sump test failure requires the facility to perform environmental investigations to determine any possible soil and groundwater impacts due to the leaking sump.


Common Rule Violations 

  • Failure to properly recover spilled or potentially spilled fertilizer, pesticide (7)  (two verbal warnings issued)
  • Lack of or inadequate bulk container or bin label. (7)  (three verbal warnings issued)
  • Response plan lacks map/contents for each fertilizer container/bin. (7)  (Four verbal warnings issued)
  • Failure to protect water supplies against backflow. (6)1 (two verbal warnings issued)
  • Failure to have a discharge response plan. (6)  (Two verbal warnings issued)
  • Lack of or inadequate container anchoring. (4)  (Three verbal warnings issued)
  • Response plan lacks procedures for responding to remote/transportation spills. (4) (One verbal warning issued)
  • Gap between dry load out equipment and vehicle greater than 2 feet. (4)  (Three verbal warnings issued) 

1 Three of these violations were identified only as possible violations.  Documentation was then submitted to DSPS plumbing safety bureau for verification and compliance.

Direction for the Coming Year

Based on the number of new construction plans reviewed in 2013, DATCP anticipates that there will be year-long demand for design plan reviews and construction observations in the coming year.  Considering the value of these observations to both construction contractors and owners, we intend to continue utilizing LWRM engineers to perform new construction spot checks in 2014.

DATCP will also be taking a closer look at many smaller-sized lawn-care facilities that are engaged in the practice of dissolving dry granular fertilizer in a liquid solution (commonly called “melting” in the industry) in a container larger than 55 gallons capacity.  By definition, this activity constitutes manufacturing of fertilizer, and, because the manufacture occurs in a container larger than 55 gallons in capacity, it is also manufacturing of a bulk liquid fertilizer.  Such activity makes these facilities subject to the bulk rules.

For more information you may email the department.