Monday, April 25, 2022

DEP: Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Prompting Review Of On-Site Disposal Options For Oil & Gas Well Plugging Wastes; Radioactive Waste Disposal

On April 25, Kurt Klapkowski, Acting DEP Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management, told the
DEP Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board the new conventional oil and gas well plugging program funded by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is prompting a review of regulations allowing on-site disposal of radioactive and nonradioactive well plugging waste.

Klapkowski said the waste issue was being discussed, because of, “the scale and scope of the program, things that weren't really talked about much because maybe you can deal with it as a one-off because we were plugging 10 or 20 wells a year. 

“When you start to talk about plugging 500 [wells a year], issues of scale and all the rest of those issues become much, much more significant,” said Klapkowski.

“This is an issue that has been identified internally, it's actually even broader than just the radiation concerns [with waste],  there's a broader waste management concern here, even for non-radioactive plugging waste.”

“I think there are methods that were used in the past that didn't, may not quite work now.  There are some options for waste management that involve on-site disposal. 

“I'm concerned about creating, you know, 50 mini disposal sites across the Commonwealth--  is that actually like a sound waste management practice? 

“And I'm not saying it's not at this point, but I think we have to have a discussion about these particular waste streams, and whether or not it makes sense, given some of the concerns that you mentioned regarding radioactivity, potentially [for] some of these materials. Is [on-site disposal] something that is actually an option or not?” said Klapkowski.

“There's a lot of liquid waste that gets produced as part of this [plugging] process because you're flushing the wellbore, bringing up a lot of stuff,” said Klapkowski.  “It's not like water that you can put in the tank, [or] necessarily into an injection [well] site, because the injection operators won't take it because it's not just water.

“There's either going to have to be treatment, and processing, and then also a disposal [option], a UIC [Underground Injection] facility, or some other method of addressing these wastes.”

“Even if there aren't radioactivity concerns with the waste, there's still concerns about the proper disposal and treatment of these wastes, primarily due to their physical characteristics,” explained Klapkowski.

Radioactive Waste Monitoring

Klapkowski said a final technical guidance document Radioactive Monitoring At Solid Waste Processing and Disposal Facilities should be available during the second quarter of this year.

He said a provision added to the 2016 unconventional drilling regulations required a radioactivity monitoring plan at oil and gas well sites “because we recognize there [are] significant concerns about the disposal of some of the byproducts of [well waste] processing] getting [radiation] alarms set off at landfills.]

April 28 Webinar

The Department of Environmental Protection will host an online information session on the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Conventional Oil and Gas Well Plugging Program April 28 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m..

This session, presented by DEP Oil and Gas staff, will provide participating stakeholders,  local government officials, academic institutions and commonwealth citizens with information relating to its projected plans, needs, timelines and vendor protocols which will allow for the most effective utilization of the potential funding across the state.

Visit DEP’s Office Of Oil & Gas Management webpage to learn more about this program.

For more information and available handouts, visit DEP’s Oil & Gas Technical Advisory Board webpage.  Questions should be directed to Todd Wallace, 717-783-6395.

Related Articles:

-- Financial Assurance, Plugging Regulations To Be Reviewed To Prevent New Abandoned Oil & Gas Wells Under Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Plugging Program

-- DEP: Draft Updates Coming To Regs. On Conventional Oil & Gas Waste Disposal As Early As July; Waste Reporting Changes Invited

-- DEP Not Seeing Uptick In Oil & Gas Drilling; Expects $8 Million Deficit In Funding Oil & Gas Regulatory Program

[Posted: April 25, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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