by: Lynn Swearingen (c) copyright 2010 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Something quite frightening happened this morning at a yet undisclosed location of the Midwest United States. Notification was received of yet another oil containing fluid spill which is governed under the FDA (Foolish Damn Arrogance) arm of our Government.  The spill, while extremely small, has not yet been exempted from the current FDA rules and therefore the consequences could be devastating.

A liquid substance containing the following ingredients was inadvertently dispersed on a surface containing cementation materials such as fly ash  and slag cement, aggregate possibly containing a coarse aggregate made of gravels or crushed rocks such as limestone, or granite, plus a fine aggregate such as sand), water, and chemical admixtures.

  • B1 – thiamine
  • B2 – riboflavin
  • B6 – pyridoxine
  • B12 – cyanocobalamin
  • niacin
  • pantothenic acid
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Iodine
  • Fluoride
  • Selenium
  • Cobalt
  • Chromium
  • Nickle
  • Arsenic
  • Aluminum
  • Lead

Most concerning of all is the approximately 4.1% presence of a product defined by the EPA as an “oil” (i.e. Butterfat).  The on site Supervisor was notified of the contaminant and took immediate steps to remediate the problem. With no MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) available on site, initially the “top hat” method was utilized to isolate the issue (i.e. 5 gallon containment device was gingerly lowered over the available drainage to attempt to stem the flow BUCKET). When oil product continued to advance to the central drainage point, a senior official attempted to deploy the “booms” (Jacquard and terry fibrous material collection products  TOWELS): unfortunately the advance continued. This could have erupted into a full-fledged EPA report HAZMAT issue quickly.

On site supervisor considered placing a direct call to connections at local BP Station or perhaps the President for advice, however considering the time constraints furthermore decided to directly deploy the last-ditch “safety valve”:

Yes. The spill was in a milkroom (contained successfully without any government intervention) and is technically a HAZMAT situation at this current time. According to The Grand Rapids Press an exemption is being considered for the smaller farmers.

But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is classifying milk as oil because it contains a percentage of animal fat, which is a non-petroleum oil.

The Hesperia farmer and others would be required to develop and implement spill prevention plans for milk storage tanks. The rules are set to take effect in November, though that date might be pushed back.

“That could get expensive quickly,” Konkel said. “We have a serious problem in the Gulf. Milk is a wholesome product that does not equate to spilling oil.

But last week environmentalists disagreed at a Senate committee hearing on a resolution from Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, calling for the EPA to rescind its ruling.

“The federal Clean Water Act requirements were meant to protect the environment from petroleum-based oils, not milk,” he said. “I think it is an example of federal government gone amuck.”

But Gayle Miller, legislative director of Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, said agricultural pollution probably is the nation’s most severe chronic problem when it comes to water pollution.

“Milk is wholesome in a child’s body. It is devastating in a waterway,” Miller said. “The fact that it’s biodegradable is irrelevant if people die as a result of cryptosporidium, beaches close for E. coli and fish are killed.”

Curiously the proposed regulation is not available on the FDA website nor the possible exemption mentioned for smaller dairy farms. If in fact there is no exemption introduced or (as Legislators like to do at the last moment) stricken, theoretically speaking the milk spill that occurred this morning might just be included.