Wednesday, July 21, 2010

EQB Holds 4 Hearings On Oil And Gas Well Casing Standards Starting Today

The Environmental Quality Board is inviting the public to comment on proposed regulatory changes that will substantially improve the safety of oil and gas wells across Pennsylvania and protect the state’s water resources from contamination.
The proposed rules would amend state regulations for casing and cementing wells. The Department of Environmental Protection proposed the rule changes to strengthen construction standards for oil and gas wells. A properly cased and cemented well is critical to keeping gas, oil and other fluids contained inside the well bore and away from fresh groundwater.
The more rigorous standards are intended to prevent gas from migrating from a well, where it could contaminate a water supply or possibly enter a home and reach combustible levels. Among the new standards would be requirements for pressure-testing those casings used in Marcellus Shale wells, for using oilfield-grade cement, and for using blowout preventers.
The new regulations will also require well operators to inspect all existing wells quarterly to ensure each is structurally sound, and report the results of these inspections to DEP. The amendments would also clearly define a drilling company’s responsibility for responding to gas migration issues.
To comment or present testimony on these proposed amendments, members of the public can attend one of the following four public hearings:
-- July 21 -- 7 p.m. Lycoming College, Heim Science Center Building,
Room G-11, 700 College Place, Williamsport;
-- July 22 -- 7 p.m. DEP Northwest Regional Office, 1st Floor Conference Room, 230 Chestnut St., Meadville;
-- July 22 - 7 p.m. DEP Southwest Regional Office, Waterfront Conference Room A and B, 400 Waterfront Dr., Pittsburgh; and
-- July 26 -- 7 p.m. DEP Southwest Regional Office, Waterfront Conference Room A and B, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh.
The public comment period will remain open through Monday, August 9.
If unable to attend a meeting, members of the public may mail comments, suggestions or objections to the Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477 or to Rachel Carson State Office Building, 16th Floor, 400 Market St., Harrisburg, PA 17101-2301. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted.
Comments may also be e-mailed before the deadline to A subject heading of the proposed rulemaking and a return name and address for any response to comments provided must be included in each e-mail.

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