2011 Bureau of Agrichemical Management 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. The term “bulk” refers to more than 55 gallons of liquid or 100 pounds of dry fertilizer or pesticide. Fertilizers and pesticides stored in bulk quantities at agricultural chemical dealership sites and storage facilities must comply with agency rules, ch. ATCP 33 Wis. Adm. Code​. Generally, the bulk storage rules of ch. ATCP 33 do not apply to on-farm bulk storage of fertilizer and pesticide unless the farm is also a distributor of those products. 

Environmental Partners is a subset of the Containment program that emphasizes voluntary pollution prevention efforts at agricultural chemical storage and dealership sites. Despite initial high interest in this program by dealership owners and operators, interest has decreased. Since 2007, staff vacancies and hiring freezes have prevented DATCP efforts to promote the voluntary program and conduct site visits. The program was discontinued in 2011. Program materials remain available for distribution to dealerships interested in the best management practices developed by the program.

Program Activities 

Chart 1 summarizes inspections completed by DATCP’s containment program over the last six years. In 2007, one year after a major revision of our bulk pesticide and fertilizer storage rules, the program made an effort to visit every bulk facility to perform a “2007 Bulk Rule Inspection.” These inspections were one-time only and specifically aimed at educating facility operators about the new rule and inspecting the facilities to determine how the new rule would affect each facility’s operations. 

Program Highlights

  • 67 Inspections Conducted
  • 4 Containment Investigations Performed*
  • 8 Warnings Issued
  • 27 Engineering Plans Reviewed for 13 Different Projects 

*Containment investigations are performed when DATCP receives information that a person required to comply with the bulk rules is operating without having secondary containment or a mix/load pad, if DATCP staff observes out-of-containment bulk storage, or if construction of facility structures was performed without meeting the specifications of the submitted plans (or there were no plans submitted).

Common Rule Violations

  • Mix/load pad not liquid-tight.
  • Sump not liquid-tight.​
  • Uncontained mixing or loading of bulk product.
  • Failure to have a discharge response plan.
  • Lack of or inadequate fertilizer container label.
  • Vehicles driven through spillage, precipitation or rinsate.
  • Failure to immediately respond to and clean up uncontained discharges. 

Direction for the Coming Year

DATCP anticipates that there will be seasonal demand for design plan reviews in the autumn of 2012. Although DATCP has suggested to industry that construction pre-planning be performed earlier in the calendar year for autumn construction, the realities of agribusiness suggest that financial planning only allows for construction planning in late summer. While this lack of pre-planning often limits the amount of time available for iterative plan review revision (in an effort to achieve construction before freezing weather), DATCP has been able to meet the construction schedule of most facilities. DATCP will also perform a pilot project in which engineering staff from another bureau will assist the Bureau of Agrichemical Management in overseeing construction of facility structures (for which plans were submitted and reviewed). It is hoped that this project will show whether facilities are being constructed according to the submitted plans.

In 2011, eight of the 51 facilities where sumps were inspected had sumps that were found to be leaking. These sump test failures require the facility to perform environmental investigation to determine any possible soil and groundwater impacts due to the leaking sump. All of these leaking sumps were constructed prior to the revised rule that requires plan submittal according to minimum design standards. DATCP has also tested several sumps at facilities that submitted design plans according to the revised rules and minimum design standards and has not found any of these new sumps to be leaking. DATCP will continue emphasizing sump test inspections (assessing if secondary containment sumps are liquid tight and not leaking contaminants). Although short and full bulk inspections are useful tools to assess a facility’s compliance and thus protect the waters of the state, sump test inspections are a more direct way of assessing potential environmental contamination and compliance with mix/load containment requirements.​

For more information about any of the bureau programs you may email the department.

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