PADEP’s New (and Improved) Vapor Intrusion Guidance

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Are you buying a property in the city? Have you been informed that the property is being sold at a reduced rate, but were not given a reason why? Is it possible that there was a release from a facility near your property? Depending on the concentrations and site conditions, volatile substances in the subsurface could potentially result in vapor-phase intrusion of these substances into inhabited buildings at a level that poses a threat to human health.

PADEP’s updated Vapor Intrusion (VI) Guidance, entitled “Land Recycling Program Technical Guidance Manual (TGM) for Vapor Intrusion into Buildings from Groundwater and Soil under Act 2,” became effective January 18, 2017. The TGM provides guidance for implementing the Pennsylvania Code Chapter 250 regulations (Pennsylvania’s Voluntary Cleanup Program, commonly known as Act 2). As a property owner (referred to as “remediator” in the TGM), you will be expected to implement the new VI Guidance in order to satisfy the requirements of Act 2 for any Act 2 reports submitted after January 18,2017.

The VI Guidance outlines significant changes to the process for addressing VI that include new/clarified key terms and more options to comply with the Act 2 Statewide Health and Site-Specific Standards. Some benefits of the new VI Guidance include separate approaches for petroleum versus non-petroleum constituents, additional alternative assessment options (near-source and sub-slab soil gas screenings), and details regarding addressing VI under the Act 2 Site-Specific Standard.

In general, the VI assessment process under the new VI Guidance initially includes development of a Conceptual Site Model (CSM) and delineation of concentrations of soil and groundwater constituents, followed by screening of potential VI sources via identification of preferential pathways and application of proximity distances as described in the TGM.

Mitigation (elimination of the complete pathway between the contamination source and the receptor) may be used at any time during the process, and it can be used in lieu of a complete evaluation of the VI pathway.

The remediator chooses from the following options if potential VI sources are identified: (1) alternative VI assessment options (near-source soil gas screening, sub-slab soil gas screening, indoor air screening, or VI modeling); (2) mitigation with an Environmental Covenant; (3) remediation and re-evaluation of the VI pathway; or (4) selection of the Act 2 Site-Specific Standard.

Some of the new/clarified terminology in the VI Guidance that may be important to consider during your building design phase and/or when evaluating existing on-site buildings include Potential VI Source, Preferential Pathway, External Preferential Pathway, Significant Foundation Opening (SFO), Point of Application (POA), and Proximity Distance.

Preferential pathways considered in consort with POA and proximity distance as it relates to the horizontal and vertical location of the potential VI source could be utilized to address potential VI when siting and designing future buildings at the site. When identified, SFOs in existing buildings at the site could be sealed to inhibit vapor entry. Depending on your proposed plans, mitigation may be a more favorable option for your particular scenario with regards to schedule.

Summary

PADEP’s new VI Guidance provides a more-detailed process for satisfying Act 2 requirements and additional options for addressing VI to those who wish to obtain a release of environmental liability from the PADEP. Understanding how to apply the process and evaluate options could possibly save you time and/or money.

Please contact Jennifer A. Ewing, P.G., (jewing@cecinc.com) or Mary A. King, P.G., (mking@cecinc.com) at 800-365-2324 if you have any questions about the new VI Guidance and how it may influence an upcoming project, or about Act 2 in general.

Sixth-Generation Ohio Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Issued Final

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Ohio EPA’s new Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for Industrial Stormwater Discharges (Ohio EPA (OEPA) General Permit Number OHR000006) was issued final on May 8, 2017. The effective date of the permit is June 1, 2017. OEPA’s fifth-generation MSGP (OHR000005) expired on December 31, 2016, and its replacement has incorporated changes that clarify allowances and exceptions and ensure that Ohio’s MSGP is consistent with its U.S. EPA counterpart. This post describes some important dates for associated submittals and summarizes new provisions of the permit.

Companies with facilities currently covered by OHR000005 should expect to receive a letter from OEPA in the next few weeks. No action is required of current permit holders until this letter is received.

Important dates to keep in mind:

  • Effective permit date: June 1, 2017
  • Permit expiration date: May 31, 2022
  • Notice of Intent (NOI) submittal deadline date for existing permit holders: within 90 days of the OEPA’s written instructions (letter) to re-notify. Per Jason Fyffe, Supervisor, OEPA Central Office Stormwater Permitting, renewal letters will be mailed late the week of May 22, at the earliest.
  • Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) update timeframe for existing permit holders: within 180 days of the effective date of the permit (i.e., November 28, 2017)
  • Facilities not covered under a prior NPDES permit (new dischargers) must prepare a SWPPP prior to submitting an NOI. NOIs for new dischargers are to be submitted at least 180 days prior to discharge.

It is important to note that as of February 1, 2017, OEPA has instituted an all-electronic NOI filing policy, and facilities must use eBusiness to prepare and submit the form. If you prefer, the NPDES application utility (Surface Water Tracking, Reporting, and Electronic Application Management System or STREAMS) allows consultants to prepare the NOIs on behalf of their clients and delegate the forms to the appropriate individual for electronic signature and final submittal. CEC can assist you with this matter. Online payment is also available.

Notable changes to the current MSGP compared to OHR000005 include the following:

  • Clarifying language was added that defines conditions when pavement wash waters and routine external building washdown are an allowable non-stormwater discharge authorized by the permit. MSGP Part 1.1.3.
  • A list of the stormwater discharges subject to effluent limitation guidelines under 40 CFR, Subchapter N that are not eligible for coverage under the general permit and would require authorization to discharge under an individual NPDES permit is now included in MSGP Part 1.1.4.4.
  • A reduction in required frequency for routine facility inspections and quarterly visual assessments is now allowed for facilities recognized under the Gold and Platinum levels by OEPA’s Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) Program. MSGP Parts 4.1.3 and 4.2.3.
  • The requirement for a comprehensive annual site inspection has been eliminated in order to match the U.S. MSGP and to “eliminate redundancies and reduce burden” on facilities. The requirement for routine facility inspection remains, and required procedures are listed in MSGP Part 4.1.1 (no change from OHR000005).
  • Language has been added to clarify that documents incorporated into the SWPPP by reference may be maintained on site electronically (i.e., satisfies “available on site” requirement). MSGP Part 5.1.5.1.
  • Permittees are now required to make their SWPPP available to the public when requested, excluding any confidential or restricted business information. MSGP Part 5.3.
  • Language has been added to clarify that, for monitoring purposes, an outfall can include a discrete conveyance (i.e., pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, or conduit) or a location where sheet flow leaves the facility property. MSGP Part 6.1.1.
  • Language has been added to clarify that permittees obtaining coverage in years 4 and 5 of the general permit must complete benchmark monitoring requirements to the extent of remaining monitoring periods available before the general permit expires. (Permittees obtaining coverage before this time are to complete the benchmark monitoring requirements within the first three years of permit coverage. This has not changed from OHR000005.) MSGP Part 6.2.1.2.
  • Provisions have been added for permittees who are exceeding a benchmark due to neighboring facility run-on to account for this situation. MSGP Part 6.2.1.2.
  • Provisions have been added for a facility to default to a different benchmark value if a parameter’s water quality standard is less restrictive than the permit benchmark value. MSGP Part 6.2.1.2.
  • Provisions have been added for permittees to consider pollutant concentrations (contributions) from the facility structures (roofs, walls, fencing, etc.) when determining whether it is available, practical, and achievable to implement additional control measures when a benchmark has been exceeded. MSGP Part 6.2.1.2.
  • The annual report requirements have been revised to be consistent with the federal MSGP. (The frequency and recordkeeping requirements have remained the same.) MSGP Part 7.2 and Appendix I.
  • Language has been added to clarify that the discharge of leachate (defined in OAC 3745-27-01(L)(1)) is not authorized under the MSGP. MSGP Part 8.C.2.1.
  • Composting fertilizer mixing facilities (SIC 2875) have been removed from Subsector C1 and located in a newly created Subsector C6, which provides more appropriate benchmark monitoring parameters for this industry. Table 8.C-1 and Appendix D to Sector C have been revised to specify that SIC 2875 (non-composting fertilizer mixing facilities) will be subject to Subsector C1 and SIC 2875 (composting fertilizer mixing facilities) will be subject to Subsector C6.
  • Language was added to Sector N (Scrap Recycling Facilities) to clarify that references to secondary containment under this part are referencing stationary outdoor equipment and not mobile equipment. MSGP Part 8.N.3.1.7.
  • Marinas have been added to Sector Q (Water Transportation) of the MSGP. The current OEPA Marina stormwater general permit (OHRM00002) expires on January 21, 2018, and will not be renewed. Marinas with coverage under OHRM00002 will remain covered under that general permit until it expires, and at that time, will be instructed to renew their coverage under OHR000006. NOTE: the current Marina Stormwater general permit authorizes the discharge of boat wash water if no detergents or other chemical cleaning agents are used. OHR000006 does not authorize boat wash water. Such discharges would require proper collection and disposal (i.e., sanitary sewer) or be permitted by a separate NPDES permit. MSGP Part 8, Subpart Q – Sector Q
  • Appendix B, “Standard Permit Conditions,” has been updated to reflect the “Standard Permit Conditions” language found within OEPA general permits.

For additional information regarding OHR000006, including fact sheets and a copy of the permit, visit OEPA’s Industrial Stormwater General Permit website.

If you have any questions on how the requirements of OHR000006 may affect your facility, or if you would like assistance with NOI submittal and/or updating the SWPPP for your facility, contact Amy Ritts (aritts@cecinc.com) or Andy McCorkle (amccorkle@cecinc.com).

MiProbe Environmental Sensing Technology for the Continuous Real-Time Management of Redox, Microbial Degradation Rates, and Metabolic Gases

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CEC has collaborated with Burge Environmental of Tempe, Arizona, in the development and deployment of a sensor system called MiProbe that was supported by a series of grants from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The sensor is part of a full package of environmental sensors and data management tools that incorporates telemetry, the Cloud, and computer-generated graphics to bring the dynamics of contaminated site management to life. The system is unique in many ways, but one feature that makes it truly special is its use of biofilm as the sensor itself. The sensor also has a metabolic gas capture capability that gives it a second level of application in line with the current interest in Natural Source Zone Depletion (NSZD). Taken separately, the system’s features include:

Microbial Sensing Capabilities

The microbes and the associated electrode-support structure comprise a revolutionary redox sensor that is both instantaneous in reporting to the Cloud and robust to the point where, for all practical purposes, it has an operational life of several years.

A brief explanation of how it works: a biofilm/electrode combination with associated circuitry generates a steady-state voltage that is held by the electrode, noting that every redox state has an associated voltage. For example, the voltage is highest in an anaerobic environment, but it drops upon the encroachment of aerobic conditions because electrons are drawn away; this change is then recorded and transmitted. The system can work in reverse with voltages rising as anaerobic conditions develop. The sensor data may allow for better management and cost control associated with use of reagent applications (e.g. for providing oxidizing or reducing conditions in the subsurface).

It is also possible to understand the metabolic turnover rate in the environment. Based on the voltage output for the sensor (turning it on and off via remote control and allowing the voltage to drain and recover), a rate of substrate consumption can be calculated. This then factors into natural attenuation petitions or the progress of remedial intervention with oxidative or reductive processes as noted.

Metabolic Gas Capture Capabilities

The application targets a growing interest in documenting NSZD as a means of more enlightened management of complex sites with non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs). At present, the focus is on Light NAPLs (LNAPLs) like petroleum hydrocarbons. Depending on the subsurface conditions, LNAPLs will naturally attenuate through aerobic and anaerobic pathways while generating carbon dioxide and methane as metabolic gas end products. Capturing representative samples of these metabolic gases can be useful in calculating the Time of Remediation (TOR) of palpable contaminant masses in the subsurface. Of course, overlaying intervention activities such as oxidants or temperature inputs on this process can accelerate the TOR, and this will be recorded.

Other Applications and Features

Because MiProbe is sensitive to microbial activity, it can detect an uptick in electron flow as a function of a change in substrate availability. This would manifest when, for example, a dissolved-phase hydrocarbon plume impacts the sensor, which has major applications in managing UST sites or accidental releases. Conversely, a lack of electron flow could indicate a lack of bioavailability of contaminants.

The bioavailability application is important in sediments work in support of Monitored Natural Recovery (MNR) strategies. In effect, if a contaminant is unavailable, a case can be made for limited environmental impacts. Additional sediment and landfill management applications include the use of the redox sensor components to allow for characterization and modeling of the water exchanges between capped sediments or landfills and surrounding sources of water. Applications for ecological monitoring are also of interest and are ripe for further exploration by interested parties.

All of these analytical results have been obtained with extremely high reproducibility. The MiProbe system can be deployed several ways, including direct insertion into the subsurface or into monitoring wells, or as part of a floating deployment configuration. Also, the system is solar powered with real-time data transmitted using either cellular or satellite communications. In locations where communications are difficult, a data logging option is available.

This information on the MiProbe System is also available as a downloadable brochure on the Environmental Site Investigation and Remediation page of CEC’s website: http://www.cecinc.com/enviro_site_redevelopment.html.

If you have questions related to MiProbe applications, please contact Chris Hortert at (800) 365-2324 or chortert@cecinc.com, or Steve Koenigsberg at (949) 262-3265 or skoenigsberg@cecinc.com.

Ohio EPA’S Draft Rules for Landfills and Transfer Facilities Accepting Oil & Gas Production Waste

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The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Division of Materials and Waste Management (DMWM) is in the process of finalizing rules, under OAC 3745-515 (Draft Rules), for the disposal of oil and gas (O&G) production waste, specifically for the receipt, acceptance, processing, handling, management, and disposal of radioactive material, including technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM). The official title of the regulation is “Oil and Gas Production Waste Rules,” and a summary of the Draft Rules is as follows:

APPLICABILITY

  • Applicable to sanitary landfills and solid waste transfer facilities subject to OAC 3745-27 (municipal solid waste regulations) and 3745-29 (industrial waste regulations).
  • Excluded from the Draft Rules are:
    • Residual waste landfills;
    • O&G production operations (including temporary storage adjacent to point of origination);
    • Re-used material from horizontal wells;
    • Injection well sites; and
    • Material that is not TENORM and has not contacted refined oil-based substances (ROBS).
  • If TENORM or ROBS are comingled with other drilling operation material, the mixed material is subject to the Draft Rules.
  • The Draft Rules do not limit applicability under Ohio Revised Code (ORC) statutes in Chapters 1509 (O&G), 3734 (solid and hazardous waste), and 3748 (radiation control).
  • It should be noted that although Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has sole and exclusive authority to regulate the permitting, location, spacing, and related O&G activities in Ohio, Ohio EPA also has regulatory authority for sanitary landfills and solid waste transfer facilities that accept and process O&G production wastes.
  • In addition, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Bureau of Environmental Health and Radiation Protection (BEHRP) provides guidance for field scanning, sampling, and laboratory testing for Ra-226/228, which Ohio EPA is adopting under the Draft Rules.

DEFINITIONS

  • Drilling operation material (DOM) means material that results from drilling operations, including waste substances from exploration, development, stimulation, operations, or plugging, and TENORM associated with an injection well.
  • DOM is considered a solid waste.
  • Source-separated drill cuttings generated while advancing through the underground source of drinking water are not DOM.
  • TENORM is defined by reference to ORC 3748.01 and does not include drill cuttings with de minimus liquids; however, there are additions to the ORC 3748.01 definition, including:
    • ROBS;
    • Used frac sands;
    • Tank bottoms;
    • Pipe scale;
    • Used injection-well filter media; and
    • TENORM mixed with other materials.
  • For comparison, TENORM defined in ODNR’s Draft O&G Facility Rules also includes seven (7) “add-ons” to the ORC 3748.01 definition that are similar to those proposed by Ohio EPA above.
  • Drill cuttings, drilling operation, and horizontal well have the same meaning as the ORC definitions.
  • The Draft Rule definitions do not override OAC 3745-500-02 (Ohio EPA General Administration definitions).

INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

  • The “Solid Waste Disposal Facility Radioactive Material Detection Program” (amended June 14, 2016) issued by ODH BEHRP is incorporated by reference.

PROHIBITIONS

  • Sanitary landfills and solid waste transfer facilities cannot:
    • Accept TENORM with Ra-226/228 greater than five (5) pCi/g above background concentration (non-exempt TENORM) without authorization from ODH BEHRP. In Ohio, background concentration is considered to be two (2) pCi/g, making the threshold seven (7) pCi/g.
    • Accept DOM that has not been stabilized with material other than Portland cement or quicklime or anther material authorized by ODNR under ORC Chapter 1509.
    • Accept DOM that is bulk liquids or sludges without authorization from ODNR under ORC Chapter 1509 and shall not commingle solid waste or any other material not authorized in the Draft Rule during the solidification process.

RESOLUTION OF CONFLICTS AMONG AUTHORITIES

  • Compliance with the Draft Rule is required when there is conflict with another authorizing document.
  • Compliance with an Order is required when there is conflict with the Draft Rule. Once the Order is terminated or ceased, compliance with the Draft Rule is required.
  • The Draft Rule shall not infringe upon ODH BEHRP authority statute, including issuing orders, inspections, and enforcement standards.

PERMIT TO INSTALL (PTI)

  • Sanitary landfills and solid waste transfer facilities shall obtain a permit from Ohio EPA to accept and process non-exempt TENORM under the solid waste (OAC 3745-27) and industrial waste (OAC 3745-29) regulations.
  • A permit to install (PTI) from Ohio EPA is required prior to construction of sanitary landfills and solid waste transfer facilities to process DOM and/or TENORM.

NOTIFICATION

  • Sanitary landfills and solid waste transfer facilities are required to have authorization for DOM transfer or disposal from ODH BEHRP.
  • If not accepting DOM upon the effective date of the Draft Rule, a notice of intent to Ohio EPA is required.
  • If already accepting DOM, a notice of intent to continue accepting DOM is required within 30 days following the effective date of the Draft Rule.
  • Sanitary landfills and solid waste transfer facilities cannot accept non-exempt TENORM until Ohio EPA approves any required modification to the facility PTI.

OPERATIONAL CRITERIA

  • Implementation of a written radiation protection and detection program is required.
  • Analysis for Ra-226/228 is required for TENORM material.
  • A daily log is required documenting the waste type and amount received.
  • Leachate will be tested for Ra-226/228 annually.
  • Groundwater monitoring wells will be tested for Ra-226/228 semi-annually.
  • State disposal fees will be levied on DOM.

PROHIBITED MATERIALS – RADIATION PROTECTION PROGRAM

The radiation protection program shall include:

  • Implementation of the written radiation protection plan.
  • Monitoring of incoming waste with radiation portal monitors (RPMs).
  • Pre-acceptance screening procedures that include:
    • Identification of sources;
    • Generator profiles;
    • Well pad name and location;
    • DOM description;
    • Processes used to remove fluids and stabilization agents used;
    • Procedures for the collection of representative samples;
    • Procedures for pre-acceptance screening, acceptance, and record keeping;
    • Refusal of material procedures; and
    • Detections by RPMs require laboratory testing and must be below non-exempt Ra-226/228 concentrations prior to disposal.

COMMENTS ON THE DRAFT RULES

Ohio EPA is accepting comments from stakeholders regarding the Draft Rules until May 12, 2017. Comments may be submitted to Michelle Mountjoy (michelle.mountjoy@epa.ohio.gov).

QUESTIONS/CONTACT INFORMATION

If you have any questions regarding the proposed Draft Rules, please contact Ababu Gelaye at agelaye@cecinc.com or (614) 917-3247, and/or Roy Stanley at rstanley@cecinc.com or (614) 545-1260 in CEC’s Worthington, Ohio, office.

Ohio’s Draft Rules for Oil and Gas Waste Facilities

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Background

Significant changes are on the way for oil and gas waste management facilities in Ohio with the upcoming Oil and Gas Waste Facilities Rules (Draft Rules, OAC 1501:9-X, revised 12/9/16). Oil and gas waste facilities, as currently defined in the Draft Rules, are operations that store, recycle, treat, or process brine and other waste substances associated with oil and gas exploration and production operations but are not part of well operations that are otherwise permitted by Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR’s) Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management (such as a production well or Class II brine disposal well). The purpose of these Draft Rules will be to prevent injury or damage to public health, safety, and the environment and to ensure that brine and other waste substances are properly managed and disposed. The Draft Rules include definitions for oil and gas waste substances, treatment, recycling, storage, repurposing, stabilization, and processing. While the statutory definition of Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) is retained, the Draft Rules appear to expand TENORM materials to include seven (7) specific waste types. The Draft Rules also require that the permit applicant shall be responsible for all utility connections of the facility. ODNR issued the Draft Rules asking that written comments from the industry be submitted by January 20, 2017, and held an industry meeting on January 30, 2017.

Until the Draft Rules are finalized, such facilities have been granted temporary authorization via a Chief’s Order from ODNR. At this point, it is not known as to when these Draft Rules will be final and effective; however, oil and gas waste facilities that currently have a Chief’s Order will be required to re-submit a permit to construct and/or a permit to operate once the Oil and Gas Waste Facilities Rules are promulgated. Constructed/operating facilities will be required to meet the location restrictions and construction specifications in the final rules.

Are the Draft Rules Requirements Similar to the Ohio Horizontal Well Site Construction Rule?

The Draft Rules are very similar to the Ohio Horizontal Well Site Construction Rule with respect to surface location and siting criteria, permit application/form and supporting documents, review procedures, construction activities, permit modifications, and certification. A significant difference is the definition of secondary containment, including tanks, vessels, berms, dikes, pipes, liners, vaults, curbing, drip pans, sumps, etc. The definition of material modification is equivalent to the definition in the Ohio Horizontal Well Site Construction Rule with the exception of substituting the name “Oil and Gas Waste Facility” for “Horizontal Well Site” and “Oil and Gas Waste Facility Boundary” with “Well Site Boundary.” The Draft Rules outline processes for permit modifications, requirements during construction activities, and construction certification, all of which are similar to requirements in the Ohio Horizontal Well Site Construction Rule.

The following exhibits will be required with the applications:

  • Design and construction drawings,
  • Containment integrity document,
  • Emergency release conveyance map,
  • Stormwater hydraulic report,
  • Sediment and erosion control plan,
  • Geotechnical report/plan,
  • Oil and gas waste facility boundary GIS files, and
  • Dust control plan.

These exhibit requirements are very similar to the requirements stipulated under the Ohio Horizontal Well Site Construction Rule, with the exception of the Containment Integrity requirement in the Draft Rules.

What Does the Oil and Gas Waste Facility Permitting Process Look Like Under the Draft Rules?

The permit application process will require the completion of a Permit to Construct (PTC) and a Permit to Operate (PTO). The Draft Rules state that the permits are not transferable and are issued only for a specific location. Thus, mobile facilities cannot be permitted in the current version of the Draft Rules. Application forms, prescribed by ODNR, will require specific facility and/or owner/industry information. Completeness and pre-construction site review time frames are also outlined, and those may take between fifty (50) and seventy (70) business days under normal circumstances.

One of the most contentious components of the Draft Rules is the public notice requirement once the permit application is deemed complete. Written objections to the permit application, if deemed relevant by ODNR, will require a public hearing. The Draft Rules stipulate that ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management provide public notice of the application by posting the application on the division’s website. The question regarding this public notice requirement has to do with its timing and/or its order with respect to the Technical Review Procedure (i.e., whether it is appropriate for the public notice to happen before Technical Review is completed).

A pre-construction site review will be completed by ODNR within fifteen (15) days of notification of a complete PTC application. ODNR is required to complete its technical review of the PTC application within 60 days following the completion of the public notice process. The PTO application will be reviewed within 60 days following the pre-construction site review.

The permittee shall notify ODNR at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to commencement of construction, following permit issuance. Red-line drawings must be kept on site to document deviations from the approved plans, and inspection and maintenance activities must be performed to demonstrate compliance.

The Draft Rules outline processes for addressing permit modifications, requirements during construction activities, and requirements for certification of the constructed site to be operated, similar to what are included in the Ohio Horizontal Well Site Construction Rule.

No later than two (2) years after the effective date of the PTC, the permittee is required to submit a signed and sealed certification from the Ohio-registered professional engineer to ODNR, certifying that the oil and gas waste facility was constructed in reasonably close conformity with the approved application and documented modifications.

What are the Impacts and Implications?

Obviously, finalization and implementation of the Draft Rules will result in higher costs for permitting, construction, and operation of oil and gas waste facilities in Ohio due to increased regulatory requirements.

Oil and gas waste facility owners/operators will need to plan longer lead-times for site selection, plan development, field investigations, and compliance with the permitting, construction, and operation requirements. Increased costs for oil and gas waste facility permits, construction, and operations will likely trickle down through the Exploration and Production industry.

Clear and timely communication and clarifications to ODNR inquiries, along with well-structured and assembled plan sets and application materials will all be critical to navigating the permitting and review process and in securing permits to construct and operate oil and gas waste facilities.

Implementation of an effective construction quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) program will be critical for facility construction in accordance with the permit conditions, site design plans, and specifications. The Draft Rules also require that all modifications (material or application) are well documented and communicated with ODNR.

Critical Items Requiring Further Consideration:

  • The baseline environmental assessment, containment integrity, dust control plan, and geotechnical investigation requirements are more prescriptive than requirements in West Virginia and Pennsylvania rules for similar facilities.
  • There is no distinction in the factors of safety requirements for slope stability between cut slope and fill slope. The Draft Rules require the same factor of safety of 1.5 for both types of slopes and a factor of safety for bearing capacity of not less than 3.0. These restrictive factors of safety and bearing capacity requirements are likely to increase the effort and costs for site selection, limiting the options for site development.
  • The application and technical review procedures will extend the time frame for permitting, design, construction, and operation of oil and gas waste facilities. The overall permitting process could range from ten (10) weeks to as many as nineteen (19) weeks, depending on relevant objections during the public notification process.

Summary

Promulgation and execution of Oil and Gas Waste Facilities Rules will result in additional procedures and requirements for the Oil and Gas industry. The rules will not address all site-specific design, construction, and operational issues; thus, anticipation of permitting issues and optional solutions must be effectively communicated to the owner for a complete and compliant permit application. The planning and permitting process will require assembling effective and well-coordinated environmental, ecological, civil/geotechnical engineering, and land surveying teams. During the ODNR rule-making process, CEC will continue to be actively involved, representing industry and stakeholder concerns.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding how these Draft Rules may affect your business, please contact Ababu Gelaye at agelaye@cecinc.com or (614) 310-2079, or Roy Stanley at rstanley@cecinc.com or (614) 425-6324.

BUSTR Proposes Rule Revisions for Ohio USTs

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New regulations are coming for underground storage tank (UST) owners and operators in Ohio. The Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations (BUSTR), a division of the State of Ohio’s Fire Marshal’s office, has issued a second draft of its revised rules in the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) at 1301:7-9-01 et. seq. The draft rules are currently being prepared for filing with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) in March/April 2017 with an anticipated effective date of July 2017, according to BUSTR.

The proposed rule revisions are intended to align with new federal UST regulations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which became effective October 2015, and also to comply with the bureau’s own five-year rule review requirement. The proposed amendments and rule changes include the following:

Compliance with New Federal Rules

  • Certain types of UST systems that were previously exempt or deferred from state and federal regulations are now required to comply with certain BUSTR rules. These include airport hydrant fuel distribution systems, UST systems with field constructed tanks, and UST systems that solely store fuel for emergency generators.
  • Six new terms were added; five to align with federal changes and one (“sole source aquifer”) to accommodate the rescission of OAC 1301:7-9-09 (“Rule 9,” see below). Eleven existing terms were amended, either for clarification or to align with federal changes.
  • Rules were amended to implement new federal requirements for: 1) periodic checks of UST system and release detection components, 2) compatibility of release detection components and UST systems with tank contents, 3) methods of UST release detection, 4) retrofitting of older single-wall UST systems, 5) qualifications of persons performing work on UST systems, 6) records retention for UST system components and release detection records, and 7) requirements for release detection on airport hydrant and field-constructed systems. Numerous standards were updated relating to the construction and operation of UST systems to match corresponding federal standards.
  • Rule 9, regarding USTs located above sensitive areas, was rescinded because these areas generally correspond to federally designated sole source aquifers, and more accurate geographical information now exists for owners and operators to use in determining whether an UST site is located above a sole source aquifer.
  • The definition of “free product” and “suspected release” were revised in OAC 1301:7-9-13 (“Rule 13”) to match the federal version, and references were changed from “sensitive area” to “sole source aquifer” to accommodate rescission of Rule 9.

Permitting, Registration, and Closure

  • The annual registration application deadline is being changed from July 1 to June 30. Registration requirements were added for compartments of a manifolded UST and for previously (but no longer) exempt UST systems. BUSTR also added a requirement to modify a registration within 30 days when there is a change of product.
  • Clarified that partially exempt UST systems do not require a permit, a certified UST installer, or a certified UST inspector for tank-related activities.
  • Clarified changes to the installer license renewal process.
  • Clarified timeframes in OAC 1301:7-9-12 (“Rule 12”) for initiating closure assessments, added closure sampling requirements for piping runs, and revised the closure action levels table to reflect current science.
  • Added Class A operators to the Class B retraining requirements, but makes retraining discretionary on the part of the State Fire Marshal instead of mandatory.
  • Extended the validity of inspector certifications from two to three years, and simplified and streamlined the license renewal process.

Corrective Action, Chemicals of Concern (COCs), and Petroleum Contaminated Soils (PCS)

  • The applicability section of Rule 13 was revised to allow ongoing corrective actions to continue under a previous rule version.
  • Added “Biodiesel blended fuels” to the list of middle distillation products; added three new chemicals of concern (1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, 1,2-dibromoethane, and 1,2-dichloroethane); and revised action levels throughout Rule 13 to reflect current science.
  • Updated public notice requirements for certain advanced corrective actions; owner/operators are now required to submit proof of notification within 90 days.
  • Revised the list of re-use chemicals of concern and the action levels for petroleum contaminated soils (PCS) to incorporate most recent science, and clarified that if PCS above action levels are returned to the excavation, the cavity must be lined.

If you would like to learn more about how the new regulations may impact your operations or would like further information regarding the new BUSTR rules, contact Ron Wells (rwells@cecinc.com), Tom Maher (tmaher@cecinc.com), or Andy McCorkle (amccorkle@cecinc.com), or call (800) 365-2324.

Zero Liquid Discharge for Coal-Fired Power Plants

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When environmental regulations for coal-fired power plants change, effluent treatment methods currently being used may not be able to meet the new standards. Many power plant operators find that one of the new factors they must face is the EPA’s revised Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELGs), issued in September 2015.

Recently at a mine-mouth coal-fired plant with a nominal capacity of 1,600 megawatts (MW), designers had done what they thought necessary to comply with regulatory expectations – they designed for zero discharge of process water. For blowdown water from the cooling tower, they made plans to discharge in a way that would meet National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) limits for the permitted outfall.

Process water is recycled internally for other plant processes, including the air quality control system (AQCS), which incorporates the flue gas desulfurization (FGD) system. However, as the wastewater continuously cycles through the two FGD absorber units, a buildup of chlorides and other constituents occurs. The level of total dissolved solids (TDS) in the purge water is controlled by blowdowns triggered by the TDS levels, and makeup water is then added to the system.

The FGD wastewater can contain TDS in excess of 31,000 parts per million (ppm), total hardness of 30,000 ppm, chlorides of 20,000 ppm, and total suspended solids (TSS) of 10,000 ppm. The blowdown wastewater is purged from the system whenever the chloride concentration in the water exceeds 20,000 ppm of chlorides.

The purged high chloride FGD wastewater is then disposed of by mixing it with fly ash and gypsum coal combustion residual (CCR) material in a pug mill. That mixture was originally disposed of at an off-site landfill, located about 20 miles away.

One seemingly small change caused this design to tip off-balance: the decision by the power plant to start its own landfill on site for disposal of the fly ash mixture. This action opened up the plant to the responsibility of managing the landfill leachate – water from precipitation flowing through the landfill, picking up contaminants along the way. The plant’s operators began pumping the leachate from the on-site landfill back to the plant’s recycle basin for re-use as make-up water. However, they found that internal recycling of wastewater is not sustainable at that location, as it results in the cycling up of chlorides and other factors that increase pipeline corrosion.

As a result, from 2014 to 2015, the chloride concentration in the recycle basin increased to three times the previous year’s concentration. The design for chlorides concentration for the recycle basin was set at less than 500 mg/L, but the data show levels approaching 3,000 mg/L within two years. These concentrations seemed likely to go on increasing unless measures were taken to manage the problem.

Problems such as these have been found at many coal-fired power plants. At the root of the problem is the fact that the water-management systems were set up to support the efficient combustion of coal to produce power. However, environmental regulations concerning water use and disposal have become more restrictive. This change has put an increasing operational focus on efficient water management to lessen the discharge of water from the plant and reduce materials of concern in that wastewater.

Thus environmental regulations, such as those intended to support zero liquid discharge (ZLD), now have an increased effect on operations, moving water management up on the priority lists of power plant operators.

One of the most common issues at many coal-fired power plants is the one seen in the story above – that, in many cases, the plant’s operators do not have a comprehensive plan for water use. They lack detailed, accurate data on which parts of the plant use water, how much those parts use, and what constituents the processes add to that water.

Many plants combine their wastewater inputs into a central flow and then treat the water that comes from that single pipe. In such cases, a more focused and cost-effective plan could be developed by segregating flows so that each stream receives only the level of treatment it needs. Segregation of wastewaters can generate substantial opportunities for recycling part of that water flow and limiting the most costly treatment and disposal methods to only the streams that need it.

For example, consider pump seal water. Many plants use clean water around the outside of the seals to reduce the possibility of the pumped fluid escaping. The pump seal water that drips out is gathered and then generally is just placed into the plant’s overall wastewater flow. Since this water is virtually clean, it would make more sense to capture this water separately so it can be treated at low cost, rather than being part of the larger, more complex wastewater flow.

Comprehensive analysis of the many water flows within a plant may be able to point to similar opportunities to segregate wastewater streams so that not all water needs to be treated with expensive methods. Specific data on water use at various points within the plant can help guide the choice of treatment approaches. At the plant described above, an astute review of the wastewater components saved the owner millions of dollars that would have been required for a new treatment plant. Instead, the plant managers were advised to use low-cost techniques for reducing the chlorides in their wastewater flow.

It is important to remember that as the plant’s operations change, the effects on the wastewater stream must be considered. The above-mentioned power plant was impacted by just such a change – the new landfill’s leachate forming a new source of chlorides to be managed.

Each coal-fired plant is different – the type of coal, equipment, and other factors such as local geology – so the following steps may be useful in finding an appropriate solution:

Analyze the current situation: One of the first steps for preparing for the new ELGs is to collect data on the flow and composition of wastewater streams and characterize typical wastewater flows.

Develop plans: Review various limiting strategies, such as reusing wastewater to reduce discharges, and then use mass balance and chemistry modeling tools to evaluate reuse, treatment, and discharge strategies to meet these new limits.

Choose management options: The choice for selecting the appropriate management tool depends on yet another wide range of factors that are better understood after carrying out the first two steps. The toolbox can include:

  • Discharge to a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW)
  • Evaporation Ponds
  • Flue Gas Injection
  • Fixation
  • Deep Well Injection (depending on factors such as geology – experience has found that the tight rock formations of Pennsylvania, for example, are less useable for this purpose than the more appropriate geologic formations of other locations, such as Florida)
  • FGD wastewater treatment system (WWTS) Effluent Reuse/Recycle
  • Settling Ponds
  • Constructed Wetlands, Phytoremediation, and other Natural Based Systems
  • Vapor-Compression Evaporation
  • Physical/Chemical Treatment
  • Physical/Chemical with Added Biological Treatment
  • All the above can be components of a Zero Discharge approach

Other approaches utilities should consider include measures such as using existing evaporation (from cooling towers and FGD absorbers), using blowdown water for conditioning of fly ash, and other water reuse and conservation measures to reduce the amount of wastewater requiring treatment.
Working with a qualified professional with experience in each of these technologies can lead to wiser choices around which systems may be best, given the site-specific factors.

If you have any questions regarding your plant, please contact the post author, Ivan A. Cooper, P.E., BCEE, a principal based in CEC’s Charlotte, N.C., office, at icooper@cecinc.com; (704) 226-8074.