Monday, March 27, 2017

DEP Approves 2 Underground Drilling Waste Injection Wells In Elk, Indiana Counties

The Department of Environmental Protection Monday approved permits for two underground injection control (UIC) wells for disposal of wastewater associated with oil and natural gas production. The wells are located in Highland Township, Elk County; and Grant Township, Indiana County.
In a related action, reported Tuesday DEP also filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court against Highland and Grant townships seeking to invalidate the home-rule charters the towns’ voters expressly approved to ban wastewater wells.
“After a thorough review, DEP determined that both applications meet all regulations, are sufficient to protect surface water and water supplies, and would abate pollution,” said Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.  
The wells will be operated by two separate operators, Seneca Resources Corp. in Elk County; and Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) in Indiana County.
In addition to the permit applications, DEP reviewed Erosion and Sedimentation Control and Post Construction Stormwater Management Plans, Control and Disposal Plans, and the applications submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as the permits issued by the EPA for the wells.
Due to concerns about seismic activity related to UIC wells that has occurred in other states DEP has applied special conditions to the permit to ensure early detection if even minor seismic events occur. These conditions include:  
-- Installation of a seismometer and continuous recorder with operating, calibration, service, and maintenance information at the disposal well site; and the contact information for the responsible person in charge of conducting seismic monitoring activities.
-- Verification that data is captured at the disposal well site and provided to the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) Network in real time.
-- Description of installation to allow for optimal seismic event identification and location.
-- Submission of a tectonic seismic event contingency plan that includes monitoring, reporting and mitigation provisions.
-- Provision for updating the seismic monitoring and mitigation plan, retaining seismic event data and equipment records, and submitting reports on the use of monitoring equipment.
In addition, these wells are permitted at much lower pressures, and in formations farther from the “basement” rock that is more prone to activity, than the wells in other states that have been linked to seismic activity.
For more information on these and other injection well permits, visit DEP’s Underground Injection Wells webpage.
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